Back in the fall of 2018 ,I began researching and contacting various golf course general managers, directors of golf and even owners for our 2-month golf review trip. We had spent time reviewing various courses in the greater San Diego area a couple of years ago. So familiarity with this beautiful part of the US was not a challenge.
Although we are generally invited back by most operations to play as guests, we typically seek out courses we haven’t ever played before. Playing a course again is certainly a kind and generous offer and perhaps one we’ll take up in future years. Presently our mandate is to play and expose to the golfing community a variety of playable courses.
You will see our reviews range from public to private membership, resort to daily fee courses. On this sunny, fairly warm southern California day, we were scheduled to play Bonita Golf Course which is just a short drive east from San Diego, greater San Diego so to speak. Recent heavy rains had rendered the driving range closed. Off the first tee box, a small fast flowing stream of water was running through the bottom wash area of the course. There was plenty of standing water which is a bi-product of the extended drought conditions this area has had to deal with over the past couple of years and now the heavy rain.
When the ground dries out and becomes hard pan over an extended period of time, there is very little opportunity for absorption. Pour a glass of water on a piece of 80 grit sand paper if you need to witness it on a smaller scale.
There was an indication that Bonita Golf Course was a place to come and enjoy golf, perhaps a mantra more golf courses should follow with the emphasis being upon happiness more than frustration. Signage was displayed mentioning “happy golfers” which sets you in the right frame of mind.
Also, being greeted by 2 guys with similar names like Brandon and Branden in the pro shop lends itself to a few chuckles. The guys were really accommodating and after a few minutes on the practice putting green, which was in great condition, we set off.
If it wasn’t for the fact we have a bit of camera gear and notepads needed for reviewing, we would have opted to walk this day. Roughly 80 per cent of the golfers were walkers and on a “cart path only“ day you essentially walk quite a bit anyways.
Th greens on the course replicated the practice putting green and the recent “verity-cutting’ which had no negative effect at all, meant they were in beautiful condition. There was a bit of a theme to the course with wooden barrels and short corral style fencing defining cart paths placed near tee boxes. We often get positive feedback from readers that we often review courses that have simple, pleasurable layouts. Also because of the diversity in the experience and skill level between Myra and myself, with our handicaps being 24 shots apart, I make sure I book us on courses she will be able to play and excel at.
Bonita Golf Course is fairly forgiving off the tee, allowing me to pull out my number one club, my M4 Driver on at least 10 occasions. The tree lined fairways had excellent demarcation of eucalyptus and pine trees throughout. The approaches to the greens were void of protective bunkers allowing for shots to often run up onto the green. The bunkers had a very playable fluffy consistency and the greens were generally consistent in shape; large and round with a few quite sloped. With a short nap on the aprons putting from 20- 30 feet off the green was advisable and effective.
The course was busy with the pace at times a little slow, but it added to interaction with the three US Navy guys in playing front of us. A few times we were standing on the tee with them and found out they were from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois. Really, friendly guys who were taking a good rip with their drivers. We totally enjoyed the course and its simplicity while we overlooked the casual water and a few muddy pathways. It’s a common occurrence and clothes can be washed anyways.
There’s a number of fun holes as well as a few challenging ones like the downhill Par 3 10th and my favorite the Par 4 17th. Back to back 40s didn’t hurt my feelings and yet again a score of 80 a common thread on our review trip, a round in the 70’s only one putt away again.
Part way through the round,if you need to rehydrate or are feeling a little hungry, there is a snack shack that you pass by a couple of times throughout the round. Bonita Golf Course proudly promotes itself as playable for all levels and families too. The combination of it being such a friendly, affordable environment is an obvious key to its popularity.