It's no secret that San Diego probably has the best golf weather in the United States. Or that it can be a fairly expensive place to visit. But there is affordable golf in San Diego.
So if you've got $200 and two or three days, I've got a trio of courses for you to try. And they're not bottom-of-the-barrel courses. In fact, they're among my favorite courses in the San Diego area, price notwithstanding.
Maderas Golf Club
Consistently ranked among the top two or three courses in the San Diego area, Maderas Golf Club isn't cheap to play during normal hours, but catch a twilight slot, and you've got yourself a bargain.
While it's not on the ocean, the Poway course has some of the best views in southern California. Designed by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves, there are hills, cliffs and elevated tees everywhere. Translation: lots of panoramic views. Plus it's always in impeccable shape (at least it has been the times I've played it).
Normal green fees approach $200, but twilights during the week, which begin around 3 p.m., are around $85. And, yes, you should be able to get your round in if you can nab a 3 p.m. tee time. So my recommendation is to arrive in the San Diego area by early afternoon, and head over to Maderas.
Encinitas Ranch Golf Course
I first played Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, a terrific muni, a couple of years ago on the recommendation of other golfers in the area. I did not regret it.
The green fee there is $65, and the golf course, which is excellent shape, is well worth it. Again, a few elevated tees, but better yet, there are some ocean views. And the course is very playable by all levels -- wide fairways, bunkers that aren't too severe and large greens that don't do anything too crazy.
Plus, the clubhouse, which also has ocean views from its adjoining patio, offers a nice menu and drink selection.
Coronado Golf Course
Another municipal, this one owned by the city of Coronado, is really in the heart of San Diego. Not far from the airport, Coronado G.C. is a good one to schedule before your departing flight or heading into the Gas Lamp District for a meal.
Coronado, a 6,600-yard par 72 that opened in 1957, is a longtime local favorite. The course is solid, but what makes it so special is the setting. It's right on the water next to the Coronado Bridge with sailboats and downtown San Diego in the background. And at $35 during the week or $40 for green fees (twilight is $20 and $22), you still have enough money for a beer or two in town.