Day 4 – The Vineyard at Escondido www.vineyardatescondido.com
Of the list of golf courses to be reviewed on our California trip The Vineyard at Escondido joined Coronado Golf Course as one of the two golf courses I had a historical connection with and it was great to be back. When you have been as fortunate as I have to play golf in many countries around the world, you also struggle at times to remember the specifics of any given golf round. That was not the case with The Vineyard though as it never left my mind that I recorded a great eagle on this course all those years ago.
The Saturday morning of our day at the Vineyard was the nicest of all the days so far, the sun felt warmer and the breeze was soft as a baby’s breath, conditions couldn’t be better to be sharing it with Myra.The drive to the course was a scant one mile from our place we were staying in Escondido so well rested and ready to go we ventured on. We arrived our usual one hour before tee off and thanks to a very accommodating GM Mr.Brad Van Horn were provided with an 11:00 AM tee off, a personal favourite of ours while holidaying.We were greeted by a very efficient and friendly member of the Vineyard pro shop team, Events Coordinator Dominic who took just the right amount of time to check us in without neglecting the line up of golfers waiting to do the same. He pointed out where Mr. Van Horns office was and I went in to say hello and thank Brad for the opportunity to review the course. He was a very laid back and easy going man and I shared with him my time here some 20 years earlier.
We were provided with a power cart from Ryan in the cart service area and after hitting 20 odd warm up balls on the range we set off. To our pleasure Tom, the starter had paired us with a single, Larry a really great guy who hit some amazing shots on the day. I pointed out to Myra that “this guy has played some golf” which means he had played some “good” golf in the past, did in the present and would in the future. You get to know the character of someone when you play golf with them and Larry was what I call a “good guy”. We were about equal off the tee in distance which is great for me sometimes as it makes me focus a little more than usual. The Vineyard has really good looking and playable Par 3’s which is rewarding when I am playing with Myra. As she is not a big hitter its these holes where she challenges par and plays them quite often as an equal to the other members of the group including me.
Looking back, playing the course reminded me of going to a restaurant whereby the appetizers were good but the main course was great.The first few holes were the appetizers, tasty but not enough and the main course for me began on the ninth, that hole that 20 years earlier I made a really great eagle. Not particularly long the reward in playing this 503 yard hole comes from converting a good drive which I had at 285 yards off the tee and going for the green in two. Although my attempt at eagle this time came from a 30 yard pitch shot, rolling in the 8 footer for birdie was rewarding in itself.
The course has a great lay out and as we approached our second shots on ten it all came flooding back to me. There is a greater amount of elevation changes on the back nine and I would have to say it is more scenic and green.
Holes like the simple but challenging Par 3 12th are really good for golf, with a moderate length of 154 yards from the blue and guarded slightly left by a pond, simply hitting the green is a smile maker. The modest homes in the background create a decent backdrop too
Vineyards are present off the side of a a couple of the fairways and as is with the great Par 5 13th hole, the dramatic contrast between the outlaying areas of rugged, arid, boulder laden hills and valleys common to this region makes the back nine of the golf course seem even more oasis like. Numerous times on the back I seemed to have a few “aha” moments as I said to Myra and Larry, ” I remember this hole now!” The Vineyard is a very affordable and enjoyable course to play and I would certainly frequent it if I lived in this area of the worId. It possesses most of the attributes of a golf course I require, really good greens, large and fair to the golfer, excellent bunkering and wide landing areas off the tees and as mentioned earlier fun Par 3’s. After all a day of golfing is supposed to leave you with a smile on your face, which is probably why they were lining up to pay earlier and also why I picked a great “The Vineyard” hat from the pro shop as reminder of our great day out with our new golfing friend.