Maderas Golf Club in Poway, California: One of the San Diego area's top plays

Maderas Golf Club is not only one of the top courses in the San Diego area, it is considered one of the best in California.

Spread across the inland hills of north San Diego, its location off the beaten path in Poway hasn't prevented it from being a local favorite since first opening in 2000.

The course is considered a Johnny Miller masterpiece though Robert Muir Graves also contributed to the design. The layout winds uphill and downhill through forests and across meandering creeks. Throughout the golf course you'll find three lakes, five waterfalls, and more than 40 acres of native wildflowers. The diverse landscape gives each hole with a unique character.

The layout calls for a variety of shot-making skills, one of many reasons it can hold its own among the top resorts in the San Diego area. Be prepared for bunkers lurking along the tricky greens and numerous elevation changes ranging from subtle to dramatic. It's a challenging course but generous landing areas make it a forgiving one as well.

Many of Maderas Golf Club's highlights can be found on the back nine. The par-5 18th provides a memorable finish with both a stunning view from the elevated tee as well as one of the most exhilarating drives on the course.

In a five-star course review at Golf Advisor, pbolland wrote: "We'd heard only good things about this course, but it was better than that. Shot placement was key to scoring well, but the course was very forgiving. Conditions were superb. Staff were very informative and even placed us with local players that helped immensely with course knowledge.

My Nguyen has been writing for the Golf Channel's TravelGolf Network since 2008. She has written about hundreds of golf courses throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as many courses in Europe.

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Maderas Golf Club in Poway, California: One of the San Diego area's top plays