LAKESIDE, Calif. -- Barona Creek Golf Club makes a strong case to be the United States' best casino course outside of Las Vegas.
This 7,393-yard course headlines the four-diamond Barona Resort & Casino, located 30 miles northeast of San Diego. Forget gambling in the casino. There's plenty of risk-reward on this Gary Roger Baird design, where the only consequences are a lost ball not a pile of cash.
Barona Creek sits in a lush valley surrounded by impressive hills and colossal boulders. Wide fairways and five sets of tees offer plenty of forgiveness. Where the challenge lies is making good decisions and executing them.
While the pros at the 2007 Web.com Tour Championship made it look easy by setting records for the lowest tournament score (Richard Johnson at 264) and lowest single round (Michael Letzig with a 60), the streambeds, creeks and massive bunkers create more havoc for the rest of us. Barona Creek Golf Club's back nine climbs to a short drivable par 4 at no. 14 and climaxes at the elevated 15th tee overlooking the entire valley.
Golfweek ranks Barona Creek G.C. fifth among the best public golf courses in California for 2014 and seventh among the nation's top casino courses in 2013. From this perch, it's easy to see why.