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A SAN DIEGO GOLF COURSE REVIEW

Arrowood

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Arrowood: Riparian Golf In Oceanside by Martin Olivera

No, you don't have to look it up. I did it for you. It means "golf by the river bank." One more proof that golf can be part of a sensitive environment. Not only golf can coexist with nature, golf -- if you ask the purists -- IS indeed part of nature. At least it should feel that way. Well, okay, there is titanium, synthetic balata and other high tech stuff that come with it these days. But when it comes to sports that blend natural environments and a ball, golf reigns supreme. You WILL get this feeling at the Arrowood golf course.

Designed by prominent local architect Ted Robinson Jr, the Arrowood golf course is a par-71, 6,721-yard layout imbedded in the newly developed village of the same name. Located in Oceanside, adjacent to Camp Pendleton and only 35 miles north of San Diego, Arrowood sits on a scenic hilltop by the San Luis Rey Valley, only about 10 miles from the coastline. Panoramic views abound and the mid-morning to late afternoon sea breeze plays a definite role in the playability of the track. "This course is different from others we have designed in San Diego because of the topography and the extent of the natural areas adjacent to the holes. It feels open and unconfined," remarks Robinson. Many holes are bordered by undeveloped riparian habitat, which give the course a feeling of natural seclusion. While the open spaces conduce to a sense of relaxation, the golf holes are not there for the taking. The course will challenge players of all abilities. It's a concentration roller-coaster. At one instance it invites the player to swing away with abandonment, while at the next shot there is elevation changes, a stern breeze and bunkering to consider for an accurate approach. "Like running through rapids," says Robinson. "There are calm stretches allowing one to relax, followed by moments when the blood should be racing." The greens are pure bent grass, firm and fast. "We'll try to keep them rolling at 10 to 11 (stimpmeter)" indicates Head Golf Professional Domenic Labate. "This course will offer something for everyone," we further points out. Four sets of tees ensures that there is a golf test to suit any skill level. And the two-club wind adds to the variety: play early in the morning under no wind, calm conditions and you will find a docile course. The ocean breeze will wake you up later in the morning. It usually peaks when you get to the more difficult part of the round, the final three to four holes.

The front nine is highlighted by a long, downhill par-5 second hole (622 yards from the back tees), a strategic medium-length par-4 fourth that requires strategy off the tee -- slight forced carry to a terraced fairway -- and two well balanced par-3's: one, the third, with a deep undulating green; and the other one, the eighth, longer with a shallower, flatter green. Picturesque wooden bridges connect the fourth green with the fifth tee, and the sixth green with the seventh tee. The back nine has more "teeth". The final three holes will test a player's concentration and stomach fortitude. While 16th seems to be the popular favorite: a long par-4 into the prevailing wind, with a forced carry over water approach into a severely sloping green, I think it's the 18th the one that takes the starring credit: not as long as its brother 16th, but perhaps equally difficult while visually more appealing. Their in-between cousin, the 17th, is a dog-leg left that presents a challenging tee shot to a narrow fairway with an environmentally-protected ravine guarding the left side. Cut too much off the tee and the ball goes into the thickly vegetated ravine. The second shot is blind, into an elevated, wavy green.

In several areas throughout the golf course players will notice the sign: "Protected Habitat: Keep Out". Any ball getting in there cannot be retrieved. That shows the degree of concern for the riparian habitat framing most of the holes. Of course a player would also have to deal with snakes and other "local residents" that won't like it a tiny bit if the sign is not observed. Rare, endangered species of songbirds inhabit this sanctuary.

In addition to magnificent golf, Arrowood offers upscale amenities. A luxurious single-story, 6,700 square-foot clubhouse features California craftman-style architecture that includes a casual place to dine -- the Arrowood Grill -- with spacious seating areas and panoramic views of the golf course. It also includes a Golf Shop with the latest in apparel and equipment. The practice facilities are superb, featuring a driving range with mat and grass tees, and putting greens that mimic the conditions on the course. The Luiseño Park, a 10-acre public park nearby, enhances the Arrowood developing community. It offers picnic areas, lighted ball fields and tennis courts, and a children's playground.

For more information about Arrowod visit http://www.arrowoodgolf.com, or call the Pro-Shop at 760-967-8400. For all your golf information and outing needs in the San Diego area, visit San Diego Golf at http://www.sandiegogolf.com/.

Click to book tee times, corporate golf events or read more information about Arrowood Golf Course or any of "The 20 Best Golf Courses" in San Diego."

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