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Rancho Bernardo Inn

By David R. Holland

SAN DIEGO, CA – Rancho Bernardo Inn is a timeless, modern throwback, classic resort that reminds you of a day when Bob Hope hung around, played golf and entertained.

Add perfect 70-degree weather year around and RBI becomes the perfect getaway for snow-strangled easterners getting cabin fever.

The golf course at 6,667 yards at par 72 is a William Francis Bell design that opened in 1962 and hosted the 1964 San Diego Open that Art Wall won, besting Tony Lema and Bob Rosburg by two strokes.  Wall deposited $4,300 for the win.

The LPGA came to RBI in 1978 when Nancy Lopez lost to Sally Little in a playoff and Joanne Carner won in 1979 and in 1980 she nudged 18-year-old Judy Rankin to win $22,500.

In 1986, Ted Robinson Sr. added the water features seen on nine and 18 and in 1998, the course was upgraded by Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt, who added a fourth set of tees and reshaped the 61 bunkers. The greens were also redone.

Rancho Bernardo Inn: For All Skill Levels

Open long before the area’s golf boom daily fee courses like Maderas, Aviara and Grand Del Mar, this is a fun golf course that will reward straight drives and accurate approaches without beating you up.  You will need to avoid trees on doglegs, negotiate some deep splashed bunkers and avoid water.  The par-3s are fun and very playable from the forward tees.

The neighborhood setting in northeast San Diego County uses the beautiful views of the San Pasqual Valley foothills.

“Rancho Bernardo Inn has the strongest history for daily fee golf courses in the San Diego area,” said Evan Biundo, Director of Golf. “Our golfers all have memories of RBI growing up playing the course with family and friends. Those memories make our guests feel personally connected to the property and the staff, allowing RBI golf course to feel like home to them on each visit.

“The course is a gem resort-style course. Most holes allow for drives that miss the fairway right, to still have an approach shot at the green. The par 5’s allow good scores for all skill levels but the par 3’s will test the most skilled golfers with forced carries over water hazards and narrow catty-cornered greens that are challenging to hit.

“Hole 18 is my favorite on the course – it’s the perfect cherry on the ice cream sundae. A downhill drive followed by an uphill approach over a creek guarding the 3-tiered green makes our golfers finish their round saying, “Wow, when can we come back?””

The 18th,  a 544-yard, par-5, can be a beast going downhill from the tee and back uphill past Robinson’s spewing fountain and lots of water that trails in front of the green and behind with rock-strewn ponds and trickling wetness.  And then the green has three tiers.

The ninth is short, but a risky 306 yards because the water in front angles your ball into the pond if you get the wrong bounce. The course is very walkable.

Rancho Bernardo Inn:

Live Music, Awesome Food, Swanky Hotel And A Spa

There was once a time when RBI hosted a concert series on the driving range that was the biggest happening in Rancho Bernardo. It was called Symphony on the Green, featured the San Diego Symphony, and for 20 years of summer concerts brought luminaries like Mel Torme, Doc Severinson, Henry Mancini, Debbie Reynolds and Marie Osmond here. It ended after a 1992 appearance by comedian Bob Hope.

Today most nights include live music at Veranda Fireside Lounge & Restaurant that includes a view of the final hole. Don’t forget it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

AVANT is RBI’s top-notch contemporary restaurant that draws on the best of wine country dining in a relaxed atmosphere. The culinary team serves up dishes and drinks that embrace items foraged, farmed, hunted or fished.

AVANT Kitchen, a private demonstration kitchen, offers small groups of up to 12 direct access to AVANT’s chefs, their secrets to spectacular results and private experiences in the intimate space.

The 287 hotel guestrooms and suites were completely updated and California-Spanish architecture abounds. Enjoy comfortable platform beds, workspace, marble spa-style shower and vanity, separate bathtub, along with a 42-inch, flat-screen TV and WiFi.

My private balcony displayed the spa and pool along with the foothills and a great sunset.

There’s also more than 40,000 square-feet of flexible meeting space in the Aragon Ballroom. They can accommodate an intimate gathering for 16 or a grand event for 1,000 guests.

The Spa features state of the art treatment rooms, temperature-controlled outdoor treatment casitas, relaxing water features and sunning lounges right next to a beautiful swimming pool.

Rancho Bernardo Inn is abiding by strict California Covid-19 guidelines, so check the website for instructions.

Photos courtesy Channing Benjamin