Opened at the start of the new millennium, the 18-hole layout at Maderas Golf Club nestles in the rolling hills to the north of San Diego, where it winds its way around a landscape of rocky outcrops, winding creeks and mature woodland.
Laid out by former professional Johnny Miller, in association with architect Robert Muir Graves, the course was one of the last golfing projects undertaken by this esteemed designer in a career spanning almost half a century.
Water comes into play on several holes, including the par four 9th, which features ponds on both sides of the fairway, narrowing the landing area for the drive and challenging the approach to a double tiered green complex.
The hilly terrain is bound to throw up a number of uphill or downhill lies during the course of a round but the biggest obstacle to a good score here is probably the severity of the bunkers as many of these traps are penal with high lips.
I live in the San Diego area and play Maderas a couple of times a year. The best public 'rota' in this area to me are: Torrey Pines (both), Coronado, Barona Creek, and Maderas. I always enjoy my round at Maderas as a 'good' golf course will make you use every club in your bag.
The other reviews of Maderas are spot on, so I will not duplicate. It is a challenging course, but also very enjoyable to play. There are good elevation changes and side-hill lies to make you think a little bit before playing the shots. Approach club selection is probably the biggest consistent challenge. The par 5 #14 is a great example as I typically up-club 3 clubs on the approach.
I do seem to play more driver than they other reviewers. #6 is a great example. The first-timer will see a short par 4 with a very narrow landing area framed by trees. So they will play a long iron on hybrid for accuracy and then a PW. I discovered that the tree on the left is much closer than it looks - think the Road Hole at St Andrews - and rip it over it. The fairway feeds towards the green leaving an eagle chip.
You will might see someone well known on the driving range. Charlie Hoffman and Brenden Steele practice there. Last time I had a UCLA female collegian next to me.
Lastly, I NEVER play there at the rack rate. Yes it is too expensive. But the there are many discount options available.
Nice course and one of the best you can play in the San Diego area, ideally at a $85 twilight rate. Not particularly long but with quite narrow fairways the course presents quite pleasant desert views and several changes of elevations with several spectacular uphill or downhill holes. In particular the last 5 holes are quite interesting with the par 5 14th goiing up and the two par three 15th and 17th and the par 4 16th playng downhill with very nice views. The course was in exceptional conditions with perfect fairways and smooth and fast greens. Definitely fun to play it.
Maderas is one of those courses you enjoy but you can't quite put your finger on why. The routing is narrow and takes driver out of your hands on many holes but that adds to the challenge of trying to figure out the course from the tee box. Once on the fairways you will find them and the rough spongy and without many flat lies but at the same time you will be having fun trying to figure out how to hit it to the green from that lie. The greens are fine although the amount of unrepaired ballmarks is disconcerting for a high end course like Maderas.
The back nine is similar to the front 9 but plays easier although if the wind is up on this course, either 9 is going to be a difficult test.
I haven't played many Johnny Miller layouts but this one has a good mix of water features, strategic choices and the course was in good shape that made it a really engaging round. The course is good but not great and considering the rack rate, it definitely is an expensive meatball and one should try and look for deals if thinking about playing here.