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San Diego Golf Course Review | Maderas Golf Course | Maderas Golf Club

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Golf At The End Of The Valley - by Martin Olivera

Maderas Golf Club, designed by former U.S. Open and British Open winner Johnny Miller in collaboration with Robert Muir Graves, opened to play in 1999 and is located in a small, gentle valley about 30 minutes northeast of downtown San Diego in Poway, California. It's snugly tucked in the hills and canyons neighboring the upscale Heritage Estates community development, only three miles east of the Interstate-15, now a well-known San Diego golf courses corridor.

There is a lot of history in this corner of San Diego county. "Poway" (pau-wi) means "the meeting little valleys" or "end of the valley" in the Diegueño and Luiseño Indians language, which roamed this area several hundred years ago, before the Spaniard conquest. The Old Coach Road, which today leads to the club entrance, is part of the path followed by the stagecoach that ran between Ramona and San Diego in the late 1800's. Long gone are the times of the stagecoach, though. Now golf carts make their way across the old path, adorned with split-rail fences and magnificent stonework, lining the equestrian trails in the vicinity.

Maderas Golf Course will test all aspects of your golf abilities. Tee shots may impose a long forced carry, or simply confine you to a narrow portion of a fairway guarded by a ravine, a creek, or one of the three lakes and five waterfalls. The fairways are very undulating, almost resembling a frozen, swollen sea of green. If you are in a fairway, there is a good chance you will have a compromised stance for your next shot. And you may be facing a semi-blind shot to an elevated green. Ah, but there is where the REAL challenge begins. The old golf phrase "safely on the green" made so popular by TV announcers doesn't apply here. These greens are huge and severely undulating. Double-breaks, triple-breaks... and they are fast. They are maintained in terrific shape, though; so you have that going for you. If you are not on the correct side, three-putting (or more!) is a strong possibility. If the hole is cut in the front and your ball comes to rest on the back, you stroke your putt and start your prayers because it's a loooong and fast to the hole. A prayer perhaps should be part of your pre-shot routine when putting on these greens.

Measuring over 7,100 yards from the back tees, this par-72 course flows calmly through the terrain. More than 170 oaks were planted, along with 40 acres of wildflowers. They all enhance the unpretentious beauty of the site and provide this San Diego golf course with twelve months of natural color. "Maderas" is Spanish for "woods," and these oaks justify that name. Environmentally sensitive areas are marked with green-topped red stakes, and you are advised to stay away from them. In addition to the occasional roadrunner, rabbit, quail or pheasant, in these protected enclosures you'll find poison oak and rattle snakes. You don't want poison oak on any part of your body. It will definitely not help your putting stroke. And a rattler bite can ruin your entire outing.

Elevated tee boxes are perched on hillsides, and greens and fairways are framed by rocky outcrops, oak, olive, and sycamore trees. The layout starts with two medium-length par-4's and a 583-yard par-5, which help ease the players into the surroundings. On the other hand, the last five holes are extremely demanding and will drain whatever stamina is left of the player. The fifth hole is one of the most difficult holes of golf in San Diego county. A fierce 460-yard par-4, it starts off with a very difficult tee shot to a narrow fairway guarded with a ravine and deep-faced bunkers on the left side. It dog-legs left to a narrow green with very tricky sloping. A front-left hole (pin location #3 in the daily charts) is almost impossible to two-putt from above.

Maderas offers complete state-of-the-art practice facilities, which in addition to the customary putting greens and bunkers include a three-tiered driving range with grass tees and two long-pitching areas into real putting greens. You can practice your approaches emulating actual playing conditions. Golf Digest Schools offer a variety of golf lesson packages for all levels of play, and private lessons from the knowledgeable staff of PGA professionals are also available at Maderas Golf Club.

An Italian-style villa 11,000 square-feet clubhouse features a bar and The Grille restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and panoramic views of the course and valleys. To complete the up-scale ammenities they offer full service locker rooms and the Pro Shop is stocked with everything a golfer needs.

But what makes this entire facility stand out is its meticulously superb Troon course conditioning and first-class service. Personal attention to the guest is given from the parking lot to the first tee and everywhere in between. It's no wonder this San Diego golf course was voted the #1 Golf Course in San Diego and #6 Golf Course in California in the 2003 and 2004 Zagat Survey; and rated four and a half stars by Golf Digest in 2004. Maderas Golf Course should definitely be in the "must-play" category for any golfer in town on a San Diego golf vacation or in town on business and a little free time to play one of best golf courses in San Diego.

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

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