I haven't been to Bethpage yet, so it's safe to say this is the best muni I've played in the U.S. What a fabulous 36-hole, nothing-but-golf setting overlooking the ocean the whole way. The clubhouse ain't much, but the first hole, headed straight towards the ocean, revs you up for what you know will be a thrilling round. The front nine wastes no time getting you out towards the coast. The par-3 3rd is marvelous with an infinity backdrop and the 4th is a long par-4 with nothing but a steep drop off between you and the waves.
The back nine is really interesting too. The par-5 13th and its intimidating bunkers simply ate my lunch, but I managed to finish pretty strong down the stretch to salvage a respectable round not too high above my handicap.
It's pretty tough to make any penalty strokes here. But I have to say, I can't believe they keep the rough this thick. It's been a wet winter in SD, and the Famers is just weeks away, so I get it. But man, given the fairways are pretty narrow, it's a constant easter egg hunt for groups spraying it a little bit. I'll say this: If you want the hack-and-wack U.S. Open experience, you've come to the right place. Greens were fast but not lightening, but in excellent shape. I'm told the rough tends to die a little bit in the warmer months. Frankly I think the layout is good enough to need to keep the rough that thick, but it's got a pro golf rep to uphold.
Pace was a little rough and we were behind a five-some, but the course didn't seem crazy busy (on a weekday). I couldn't help but notice that a pro golfer, John Rahm, was a few groups behind us. It was cart path only but I walked, paired up with two guys who rode. This wouldn't be a fun round in a cart w/cart-path only because if you're like me, you lose the line of your ball when it's in the rough when you have to walk across the fairway from the cart path.
Be sure to stop into the bar at the next door Lodge for a pint and lunch. It's a great cozy spot. (it was cold and rainy so no one was outside, but I'll bet it's a festive scene on a nice day).
$192 for an out-of-towner like me is pretty good compared to the rates at high-end courses like Aviara and Maderas, etc.