Imagine a world-class championship golf course in the rustic countryside of Tuscany. Now transport the entire landscape to the spectacular foothills of San Diego’s North County. What you have is The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive, gated, residential enclave and extraordinary golf club. The Bridges Club is a private membership club located within The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe residential community in San Diego County. In addition to the world renowned championship golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, The Bridges Club offers an award-winning clubhouse, sports centre, pool facility, tennis, and events lawn.Membership to this exclusive club is available in 3 categories: FULL GOLF MEMBERSHIP, which offers unlimited access to all of the clubs amenities and privileges and provides an equity interest in the club’s facilities with voting rights; NATIONAL GOLF MEMBERSHIP, which offers a limited non-equity membership available only to non-residents of Southern California with members enjoying the same rights access to the club’s facilities and amenities as Full Golf Members; and SOCIAL MEMBERSHIP, which is a non-equity membership available only to owners of property within The Bridges and entitling members to use of all non-golf facilities, including sporting, dining, and social activities in the clubhouse (golf privileges are not included in this category).
What appears at first to be a centuries-old Italian country village is actually a magnificent 36,000 square foot clubhouse at the heart of the community. The architecture of the community’s landmark buildings reflects the timeless designs of old-world rural villas. The clubhouse offers 360-degree views of the golf course, lakes, creeks, hillsides, and bridges. The complex is notable for the quiet intimacy of its many elegant rooms and galleries. There is no vast banquet room here; only a succession of delightful spaces, striking in their perfect scale, their rich finishes and fine antiques. Besides the formal dining room, the clubhouse includes a comfortable club grill with indoor-outdoor seating, a living room, and an upstairs wine loft with a handsome private dining room. Tasteful men’s and women’s lounges and card rooms occupy opposite ends of the clubhouse, as do the separate locker rooms, steam rooms and spas. The large, fully stocked golf shop overlooks the 18th green. There is a comfortable atmosphere of casual elegance that surrounds the confines of The Bridges Clubhouse. Striking archways, stone walls, polished woods and exquisite Italian and French country antiques are just a few of the authentic and well-appointed features that give these grounds the ambience and flare synonymous with luxury! The sumptuous dining options offered by the team of culinary experts are only complimented by the club’s extensive wine collection. Besides the club’s private reserve estate bottled wine – made with Sangiovese grapes from their own vineyard- there’s an extraordinary selection of fine California and European labels in the upstairs Wine Loft and still more in the cellar!
The Bridges course is among the most recent triumphs of the prestigious Robert Trent Jones II Group, creators of such highly regarded courses as Princeville Golf Resort in Hawaii, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Southern Highlands in Las Vegas. With 5 sets of tees playing to nearly 7000 yards from the tips, the course reflects a stimulating design precept where distance is but one element to the degree-of-difficulty. The multitude of forced carries off the tee or on the approach is one aspect that gives the course a unique character and feel. Many of these carries span large canyons and native areas, usually from well-elevated positions, and require full attention from players of all levels. Certainly one of the most satisfying shots in golf is the successful carry of a long shot over water or canyon. The course is impeccably maintained throughout the year and the greens are some of the fastest and smoothest in the region. These greens, while large, are divided into much smaller sections by subtle ridges making them effectively play much smaller. Many times players hit the green only to find at arrival that their ball lies in a different section than the pin, minimizing my chances at even a 2 putt par! While hole #10 is listed as the signature hole, Head Golf Professional Rick Peters tells me that hole #18 generates the most oohs and ahhhs from players seeing the course for the first time. Indeed, the view from the #18 tee box looking down to the green and 36,000 square foot Tuscan themed clubhouse is quite awe-inspiring. But don’t let the view lull you into a sense of complacency! With prevailing sea breezes coming straight left to right and a large set of deep-faced bunkers on the right, it’s easy to lose your tee shot to the wind and be forced to lay up from the bunkers in front of the large water feature that protects the green. A slight draw will hold its line against the wind and is the best play from this tee box. Even if you are lucky enough to find the fairway off the tee, your challenge for par has only just begun. From a downhill lie in the fairway, you now face typically a 140-170yd approach dramatically uphill over water with numerous bunkers underneath the green. A high-trajectory mid-iron is the play here. This can be accomplished by taking an extra club, aiming at the left side of the green, and striking the ball with a slightly open face to add loft. As mentioned previously, the 18th green is one of many that have a ridge running through the center from back to front, which effectively divides the green into 2 smaller greens. Miss the green on the wrong section and/or above the hole and you will be looking at a 10 footer just to 2 putt!While the 18th hole might be the most dramatic, there are numerous holes that would qualify for “signature hole” status here; there is not a bad hole on the course!