The elements of a fine golf course design don’t emerge suddenly; they evolve, and only during repeated site visits and reworking of the original plan. Daily-fee golfers at Barona Creek Golf Club, 25 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, can be excused for thinking that the daily-fee/resort course they play earned its ranking of No. 82 on Golfweek’s America’s Best Modern Courses list thanks to its native site features. But the design team that created the course in the late 1990s knows better.
Veteran architect Gary Roger Baird had some concerns when he first visited the large valley that the Barona Band of Mission Indians had destined for a casino and golf resort.
“I like to see gently undulating terrain,” Baird said. “But that was lacking. What we did see was a lot of exposed rock and good, mature oak trees. But I knew it would not be easy fitting holes into a long, gentle slope that didn’t have interior contours. It was a big canvas to fill.”
The 240-acre parcel of the Barona Valley offered dramatic long views and plenty of slope – almost 200 feet along its northeast to southwest axis.
A creek bed ...