San Diego golf resorts: Which stay-and-play is right for your SoCal trip?

If we've said it once, we'll say it again: the best golf weather in the United States is in San Diego. That is, if you like 72 degrees pretty much year-round with little chance of rain.

Fortunately, golfers can enjoy accommodations that are on par with the weather — maybe even under par.

From locales that have offered tour events to multi-course facilities, the San Diego area -- which is where many of golf's major equipment companies are located – has some of the most breathtaking golf resorts — some with ocean views — in the country. These places generally come with spas that match or exceed the golf and each of them have their own signature services and amenities.

Here, then, is a quick look at what this southernmost part of California has to offer:

Omni La Costa Resort, Carlsbad

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S1 E1: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

North of downtown San Diego in Carlsbad is the wonderful Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Not only does it have 36 holes of golf and one of the best spas in the world, but an extensive tennis program, highly specialized instruction in both sports and the famous Deepak Chopra Center, where one can transform their consciousness into another realm. More recently, La Costa has added a holistic training program to golf called Beyond Performance Sports, which features leading experts in their fields and is dedicated to covering every aspect of playing the game, from exercise, diet and the best instruction to an incredible approach the mental side of the game.

As for the golf, the two courses at La Costa Golf Club – the Champions Course and the Champions Course -- which have hosted both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, have been renovated in recent years as part of an overall $50 million expansion of the entire resort. (More: Omni La Costa offers cutting-edge fitness and instruction programs)

Fairmont Grand del Mar, San Diego

The luxurious Fairmont Grand Del Mar


Just south of Carlsbad on the Pacific coast you'll find The Fairmont Grand Del Mar, also a AAA Five-Diamond Resort. Taken over by Fairmont Hotels in 2015, this Mediterranean-style estate boasts fine dining (it doesn't get any better than Chef William Bradley's Addison restaurant for dinner), luxury accommodation and outstanding service.

Guests at the Fairmont have access to the private, Tom Fazio-designed Grand Golf Club and outstanding driving range and golf academy that teaches some of the finest juniors in the world as well as professional tour players. Fazio used stunning Los Penasquitos Canyon as his backdrop to create a course with dramatic elevations, his signature bunkering and perfect course conditions. (More: Tour The Grand Golf Club)

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The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla

While Torrey Pines in La Jolla is technically a municipal (yes, the locals play it for a fraction of its $250-plus rack rate), it's also a resort. The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a AAA Five-Diamond Resort, ensures the best possible experience, and booking a stay there does it does guarantee tee times on both the North Course and the South Course, which not only hosts the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open, but also the 2008 U.S. Open, which was Tiger Woods' last major victory.

Modeled after Greene & Greene's famed Gamble and Blacker houses in Pasadena, Calif., the lodge isn't big like many mega-resorts. It features 170 spacious guest rooms – including nine suites – more than 13,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, and a 9,500 square-foot spa. The views on the two classic William Bell championship golf courses are special. And with a little renovation work by Rees Jones (South) and Tom Weiskopf (North), both have withstood the test of time. (More: How to get a tee time at Torrey Pines)

Park Hyatt Aviara, Carlsbad

The lush coastal setting of the Park Hyatt Aviara


Just a few miles from La Costa is the Park Hyatt Aviara. The Spanish colonial-style has the area's only Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and easy access to the beach. The Park Hyatt Aviara has 329 rooms, four restaurants and two bars and, of course, a full-service spa. Guests can make their way to the FAviara Golf Club's two-story Spanish colonial clubhouse, then play the par-72, 7,008-yard golf course geared for players of all skill levels that winds around a natural setting of lagoons. The course doubles as a nature resort, as much of the maintenance budget goes to maintaining the 60 acres of landscaping, which includes purple ice plant, Pride of Madeira and agave plants.

Barona Creek, Lakeside

Barona Creek Casino & Resort


And finally, there's Barona Creek Resort & Casino, located about 45 minutes east of San Diego on the Barona Indian Reservation. There are no homes and plenty of looks from elevated tees to this ample and playable Barona Creek Golf Club course, designed by Todd Eckenrode and Gary Roger Baird. This Bronze Signature Sanctuary Course (Audubon International) is no pushover, however, with more than 100 foreboding bunkers, some tough putts, and ponds and lakes to challenge low-handicappers. As for the resort, Barona Creek offers 400 luxury rooms, a full-service spa, an assortment of dining and big-name entertainment.

More San Diego golf resorts

Sycuan Golf Resort, El Cajon: Hidden in the beautiful Dehesa Valley, 54-hole Sycuan may be lesser known but no golf property in the area has more holes, and golf packages are more affordable than the neighboring luxury brands. The property's main campus features multiple restaurants, the Primrose Spa; an outdoor pool and nice rooms. Entertainment is three miles away at the Sycuan Casino, owned by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. It has grown from a small "Bingo Palace" opened in 1983 into a major gaming hotspot of more than 2,000 slots or video poker machines, more than 40 gaming tables; numerous restaurants; and a 457-seat entertainment venue that hosts national musical performers and comedians (such as Sinbad and Blue Oyster Cult). The GameDay Sports Bar & Grill features almost as many beers on tap (32) as it does large screen TVs (39).

Carlton Oaks Lodge and Country Club, Santee: Carlton Oaks offers a affordable, convenient stay-and-play with an onsite, 51-room lodge that was recently updated. It overlooks a Perry Dye-designed course that is highly regarded among lower handicappers and featuring a walkable routing with mounding and lots of bunkers with wooden-plank faces. Carlton Oaks' main building houses the pro shop, a restaurant/bar and a fenced-in outdoor pool and hot tub.

Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego: Located in northern San Diego, the Rancho Bernardo Inn and Golf Resort recently completed a two-year renovation project, which included new greens, on the half-century old William P. Bell 6,600-yard course. While the course is a longtime favorite in the area, the resort has plenty to offer, including luxury guest rooms, a farm-to-table restaurant, outdoor entertainment at its Fireside Lounge and an award-winning spa. (It's also the closest golf resort to a top daily-fee course, Maderas Golf Club.)

Pala Mesa Golf Resort, Fallbrook: The northern-most resort featured in this story -- located 56 miles north of downtown San Diego -- dates to the 1960s. All 132 rooms and the main lobby and Aquaterra Restaurant were scheduled to receive a facelift in 2017. The tougher, more scenic holes reveal themselves on the back nine.

Welk Golf Resort, Escondido:While there isn't any championship golf at Welk Resort San Diego (there are other Welk locations, including Branson, Mo.), there are two fun golf courses – the Oaks par-3 course and the Fountains, a 45-acre executive course. What really makes this resort unique, however, are the other amenitities, including its villas, recreation centers, tennis, climbing wall, shopping and the Welk Resort Theatre, which features a variety of entertainment, including plays.

San Vicente Golf Resort, Ramona: San Vicente Golf Resort, home to a 28-room, AAA 3-Diamond Lodge and Ted Robinson-designed golf course, isn't far from Barona Creek. Recent renovations to the rooms and pro shop and a turf reduction program on the 6,633-yard course in 2015 has spruced up the place.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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San Diego golf resorts: Which stay-and-play is right for your SoCal trip?