Wow, Montesoro Golf Course is one impressive track - scenic, challenging, fun, lots of variety, and very memorable - one of the best layouts we have played. Montesoro was redesigned by Tom Fazio and opened for play in 2007 and the following year it was ranked by Golf Digest as the "Best New Course" for 2008/2009. Fazio has created a desert masterpiece that is as visually stunning as it is fun and demanding to play. Bring your camera - every hole has at least one Kodak moment and a potential poster for your wall. And if you're not a golfer, it's worth renting a cart and just driving the course as it twists and turns up and down the desert.
The fairways roll through the desert like a green carpet with cacti, rock outcroppings, sparkling blue lakes, and desert fauna with a variety of colors. The front nine plays through the Montesoro housing development and some nice homes sit well back off the fairway. The back nine which from our perspective is more spectacular as well as a little tougher heads out toward the desert and then back up to the clubhouse. Both nines offer unparalleled vistas of the Santa Rosa Mountains and the Anza Borrego Desert.
Almost every hole requires club management and some strategic thinking if you want to score well. You need to manage the forced carries, tight landing zones, tough approaches, wind, huge bunkers, and the fairway and green slope and contour. On some holes you might be better off leaving the big dog in the bag and make sure that on each shot study and leverage or play the slope before you hit each shot or you'll likely end up in a deep swale, water, desert, or a treacherous bunker.
But all of that is what makes golf fun and Montesoro one of the best. Some of the other reasons we loved this course include:
Don't let all those challenges scare you - just pick the right set of tee boxes and don't bite off more than you can chew, study each shot, relax, enjoy the view, and have fun. This is a must play course. And you won't forget the 18th hole - a 577 yard par five with a magnificent view from an elevated tee box, a tight severely sloping fairway that dog legs right around a beautiful lake with huge stately palm trees, 9 monstrous deep bunkers, a challenging uphill green, and majestic vistas of the mountains and the desert - a perfect finish to an excellent layout.
Most of the fairways are ample but bunkering and the slope cause you some trouble - I sadly watched what looked like a great shot roll into the desert, water, or a bunker.
Practice putting before you head out - the bent greens normally run very fast, around 11 on the stimpmeter! The greens has gentle to severe slope, undulation, spines, and tiers and some of the greens are elevated and turtle back! And they are all shapes and sizes, most are pretty big. But they hold the ball very well and run fast and true.
The bunkers are something else and you need to do whatever you can to avoid them. They are typical Fazio bunkers - huge, treacherous, steep faced, very deep, and there are lots of them strategically placed just about everywhere your ball wants to go. The white sand is soft and deep.
Montesoro Golf Course was going through some ownership changes when we played and thanks to the economy they were experiencing some financial challenges. As such the conditions were not up to par - the greens were very good (8.5), the fairways were fair (7), the bunkers were playable but showing signs of weeds and grass, and the first cut had been neglected. Prior to the last year, the conditions were near perfect and it's anticipated that new owners will commit to bringing the conditions back to where they should be. Regardless, this is still a fantastic track and very playable and much better than a lot of courses that we have played. If the conditions improve, we think Montesoro would make the Golf Digest "Top 100 Places To Play!"
Rates: $40.00 to $85.00
Service is ok but limited, the pro shop has the basics, and the grill is temporarily closed.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.