Designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior and opened in 1960, the private course at Pauma Valley Country Club lies between the Wilderness Gardens Park and the Palomar Mountain State Park in San Diego North County. The club is one of less than a dozen in North America to have its own airstrip, allowing its more affluent members from further afield to land on the nearby 2,700-foot runway, enjoy their round of golf, then fly back home the same day.
Rather unusually for a course designed by its eminent architect, Pauma Valley has only one water hazard in play at the 411-yard 9th, where a small lake sits beside and behind the green. Other notable holes on the card include the left doglegged par five 11th and the 525-yard 17th, which is reachable in two by big hitters.
There’s a very interesting 50-minute YouTube video from 1964 in “Challenge Golf,” part of the “Shell’s Wonderful Word of Golf” series, where Arnold Palmer and Gary Player take on Jack Nicklaus and Mike Souchak in a better ball match play tie at Pauma Valley – it’s fascinating to see how decidedly bare the course looks from half a century ago, when most of the mature trees now lining the fairways had just been planted.