The Crossing at Carlsbad is a fantastic track – fun, scenic, challenging, good conditions, and a fair value. The course is owned by the City of Carlsbad and managed by Kemper Sports who do a fantastic job of keeping the courses they manage in above average condition, well manicured, and staffed with a friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff.
Greg Nash designed The Crossing and it opened in 2007 and shortly thereafter was voted by GOLF Magazine as one of the "Top 10 New Courses You Can Play." One of the things that makes playing at The Crossings so much fun is that each nine is different and memorable. The first hole on the front nine sets the stage for this nine – a good view of the Pacific Ocean and an intimidating carry over a deep ravine and then downhill to a dog leg left to a big tiered green. On the rest of the holes on the front nine, you'll encounter:
- blind uphill as well as downhill shots
- some severely sloping and roller coaster fairways
- plenty of mounding and berms, some of which seem like small mountains
- elevation changes that provide some good views of the ocean
- forced carries over deep ravines
The last three holes help define this nine – #7 is a beautiful and memorable 556 yards through a minefield of bunkers and mounds on the left side of the fairway and a ridge along the right side which leads to a cascading waterfall lined by vibrant red, white, purple, and yellow flowers which feeds a pond fronting a green with 4 bunkers around the backside. That scenic hole is followed by a risky opportunity off the tee box to hit a blind shot that needs to carry a berm and ravine to try and stuff it on or near the green for a birdie or you can try the safer approach along the fairway but you'll need to leave the driver in the bag. And #9 is a short par three with the impressive clubhouse as a backdrop.
As good as the front is, we thought the back was even more fun. Nash has chiseled this nine out of the side of the mountain and it starts at the top and traverses down to the valley to play beside a wetland and then climbs it's way back up to the clubhouse. As such, #10 and #11 offer tee shots from a dramatically elevated tee box down what seems like 500 feet to the fairway – it seems like the ball is suspended in the air for several minutes before it finally plops to the fairway. The last three holes really make this nine fun and challenging:
- #16 is a 558 yard par five that from an elevated tee box you'll need to stuff it on a fairway with big bunkers along both sides and a deep ravine along the entire right side – spray the ball right and you're history
- #17 is a 191 yard par 3 with a big bunker on the left and a green that has a very steep and deep ravine covering the entire right side
- #18 requires an accurate tee shot thanks to a lake, ravine and bunker that squeezes the fairway – survive that and pull out your most accurate club to try and stuff it on a green that has no room for error because it is perched on the precipice of a deep ravine
The fairways are lined with berms, mounds, and natural areas that are environmentally sensitive – meaning land in them and you get a free drop. Nash must have moved millions of tons of dirt to create the valleys and heavily contoured and rolling fairways, some of which are like roller coasters. The fairways were in transition when we played but they looked like they would normally be in above average condition during the season.
The greens are large but treacherous thanks to tiers, spines, ridges, slope, and some elevated fronts. The pro shop told me that they purposely keep them a little slow, around a 9 and a half,. When we played they had just been aerated and were sandy and a little bumpy. They looked like they would normally be in very good condition and that was also verified by a local golfer that we played with.
The bunkers were perfect – white, thick, fluffy sand. They are all shapes and sizes and the faces range from manageable to steep. Beware of a couple hidden pot bunkers in the middle of one of the fairways.
The clubhouse is fantastic and from the bar and restaurant you'll have an outstanding view of a couple holes and the blue sparkling water of the Pacific Ocean. And the food is excellent. All of which is why the clubhouse was voted Golf World's 2010 Readers' Choice Award as the #1 Public Food & Dining Facility.
Bottom line – The Crossing at Carlsbad is a fantastic layout that is fair but challenging, scenic and memorable with very good conditions and a good value.
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Service is good, the clubhouse and food are excellent, the pro shop is well stocked, and the practice facility is very good.