A weekly look at golf courses open to the public in Southern California.
Mt. Woodson Country Club
Address: 16422 North Woodson Drive, Ramona.
Phone: (760) 788-3555.
Green fees: $55-75 from Jan. 15 to April 15; $47-$68 from April 16 to Jan. 14.
Tee times: Seven days in advance.
The facility: This is a hilly, demanding layout with a 12,000-square-foot stone castle greeting golfers as they drive through the stone-walled entrance. Tucked in the mountains about 40 minutes from downtown San Diego, the course, open since 1991, winds through stands of live oaks and eucalyptus, over ravines and in between huge rock formations. The castle, on the National Register of Historical Landmarks, is open to the public.
The good: The course is short, even from the back tees, but far from easy, particularly for the directionally impaired. There are six lakes, trouble spots on every hole, undulating greens and extraordinary variety in the holes. This is a thinking player's course, where you can score well if you play conservatively and where gambles offer big rewards and big losses. The wooden bridge over an abyss to the No. 3 tee could be a new thrill ride at Magic Mountain. Fine conditions throughout. Exceptional service.