Rams Hill Golf Club: A sleeping beauty reawakens in the southern California desert

BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. -- For four years, the Montesoro Golf & Social Club sat closed and neglected, as its once lush fairways and greens slowly returned to desert scrub. The private course shuttered in 2010, just three years after Tom Fazio did wonders redesigning the original 27-hole course built in 1983 by Ted Robinson.

Fazio's 7,232-yard masterpiece had become another victim in the boom-and-bust cycle of this remote desert community cut off from society by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the biggest state park in California. Enter Bill Berkley, a Rancho Santa Fe real estate investor who bought the course and surrounding neighborhood in 2013. Rams Hill Golf Club, the course's original name, was reborn in November 2014.

Millions of dollars have been invested in getting Rams Hill in PGA Tour-caliber condition, updating the clubhouse and solving water issues. Rams Hill might be the most scenic round of golf in southern California not on the ocean. Mountains tower in the backdrop, turning shades of pink and orange at twilight.

It's quite the journey along winding canyon roads to find Rams Hill, although the reward is a premier golf experience. Fazio's magnificent bunkers dance along firm fairways and snuggle tight to rolling greens. There are many good holes -- the par-3 10th and par-4 11th come to mind -- but it's the finish that embodies the fun of playing Rams Hill.

There's little reward in swinging driver on the short 331-yard 17th hole, so lay back and hit a good wedge to a difficult green. The 577-yard 18th hole wanders along a once-dry lake before climbing to a green near the clubhouse.

Rams Hill gets nearly unanimous five-star reviews on Golf Advisor.

In his review posted April 28, 2015, MrFeb14golfer wrote: "Been hearing alot of great things about Rams Hill and finally played on 4/25/15 and WOW it held up to the HYPE! This course is absolutely a must play and awesome! I definitely recommend it and would say a top 5 course in Southern CA!"

May 11, 2015

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.