William Bradley doesn’t have much time to play the Tom Fazio-designed course at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. The avid golfer would like to—he once shot a 74 on the 7,160-yard layout—but his job keeps him too busy. And for that, visitors to the resort should be very happy.
The 40-year old Bradley is the Director and Executive Chef at the resort’s Addison Restaurant, the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Southern California. A dinner there is the highlight of any resort visit, although there are many more reasons to make the trip, including lavish accommodations, four heated pools, a spa (try the golf revitalization massage), and a three-to-one staff-to-guest ratio.
All of which helps explain why Fairmont, which longed for the chance to run the 249-room resort since it opened in 2007, acquired 88 percent of ownership last year. All of which also explains why few major changes were needed at this high-end hostelry 30 minutes north of San Diego International Airport.
Fazio’s layout, which encircles the resort, is a long and winding journey through the 400-acre property. “It’s visually challenging but forgiving at the same time,” says Bradley. “There are a lot of banks around the greens that bring shots back into play. I recommend using a forecaddie your first time here to help with course management.”
The course has a number of high and low points, topographically speaking. Play starts on a downhill par four back-dropped by Los Peñasquitos Canyon, then rises to its apex at the 450-yard 4th hole, which offers a good view of the fog that often hugs the Pacific coastline but never reaches the resort, which is five miles inland. The round continues its up-and-down ride through ravines and hillsides, with one of its highlights the 17th hole, a 242-yard par three with water left of the green. “It’s one of the hardest I have played,” Bradley says of his favorite hole. “I’ve hit everything from a 3-wood to a 4-iron and have only birdied the hole once in all the times I have played it.”
Director of Golf Shawn Cox and head instructor Derek Uyeda teach out of an impressive complex at the back of the driving range, while the resort offers plenty of non-golf activities as well. A complimentary shuttle (complete with beach chair set up and towels) stands ready for the 15-minute drive to Del Mar’s 18th Street beach. And when the thoroughbreds run at Del Mar racetrack from the middle of July through early September and again in November, a shuttle departs the resort an hour before the first race and returns 15 minutes after the last. The resort has its own equestrian center with seven horses available for rides in Los Peñasquitos Canyon, while hikers can traverse 37 miles of trails. The surrounding area is also rich in activities for families, including the San Diego Zoo, LegoLand, and SeaWorld. (The resort can arrange tickets.)