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Find affordable golf at this foursome of resorts in San Diego County

Jason Scott DeeganBy Jason Scott Deegan,
Senior Staff Writer
Pala Mesa Resort golf course
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Pala Mesa Resort's golf course has unique subtle-breaking greens that are always in excellent condition. (Courtesy of Pala Mesa Resort)

As one of America's best year-round golf destinations, San Diego County certainly has no shortage of golf resorts.

And while the images of sunshine, fountains and mountain backdrops may make them all appear pretty exclusive, rest assured, there are plenty of great courses to stay and play within your price point.

Here are four resort courses that won't break the bank.

At each, you can stay-and-play for golf-right-outside-your-door convenience or book them a la carte and see various parts of the destination.

Carlton Oaks

Low-handicappers: You don't have to spend a ton of money in San Diego to find a great challenge. In Santee, the golf course at Carlton Oaks, designed by Perry Dye, presents one of the destination's great championship layouts. The course can stretch up to 7,400 yards and has hosted Canadian Tour Qualifying. Curtis Strange also won the 1974 NCAA Championship right here.

There's a small and cozy on-site lodge complete with a pool at Carlton Oaks, so you can stay steps from the first tee, while there's also a full driving range and practice range for those who are loosening up an off-season golf swing.

At GolfAdvisor.com, this single-digit-handicapper rated the course five stars in June:

"They recently held the PGA Canadian Tour Q-School. This is a tough test of golf on one of the best routes in Southern California. Be sure to select the appropriate tee box to have an enjoyable experience."

Sycuan Resort

It's pure seclusion when playing golf at Sycuan Resort in El Cajon. The 54-hole golf complex is surrounded by mountainsides and features a very pleasant and natural setting with classic course design. The two regulation-length courses -- Oak Glen and Willow Glen -- were designed by Ted Robinson, Sr., while there's also Pine Glen, a fine 18-hole executive course that's great for families or a casual afternoon round. The fourth hole at Willow Glen, with an elevated tee, mountains left and ponds right, makes for one of the destination's true signature holes.

At Golf Advisor, top 1000 reviewer CENTURYUGOLF had this to say about a visit in June:

"Great views of the mountains and scenery. Great getaway from the city. Golf carts are some of the best in town with color GPS. I will be back to play again. The food is great and the casino is only minutes away from the course."

The resort has 100 rooms on site, including a pool, fitness center, private putting greens and also shuttle service to the nearby casino. Groups can book a two-bedroom suite and also rent out the private hospitality suite.

San Vicente Golf Resort

San Vicente Golf Resort in Ramona is nestled into the gently rolling hills 35 miles northeast of downtown. Both the 6,633-yard course and 28-room lodge have been remodeled within the past several years.

All the remodeled rooms have comfy beds, a small fridge and a large patio or balcony overlooking a scenic course designed by Ted Robinson Sr.

#SanVicenteGolfResort wonderfully hidden in the hills of #SanDiego. #whyIlovethisgame

A photo posted by Jason Scott Deegan (@jasondeegangolfadvisor) on

A million-dollar turf reduction program completed last year not only saves on water costs but gave the golf course at San Vicente Golf Resort a more interesting, manicured look. Wood chips or native plants have replaced roughly 18 and a half acres of grass on the layout's perimeter. The ponds impacting the first and third holes and No. 14 have been rebuilt with liners to keep from losing water.

The Oaks Grille & The Par Lounge is a fine spot to hang out after golf.

Golf Advisor user Crmitch3ll gave his recent round five stars, writing:

"This was my first time playing San Vicente. What a great layout. Considering we are in a drought the course is in good shape. Greens are very well kept and roll true. I will most defiantly play here again. The staff is friendly and accommodating. Snack bar is well stocked. Overall a great day on the course."

Pala Mesa Resort

This ranch-style hotel in Fallbrook is just minutes away from Temecula wine country. All 132 rooms are pet friendly, if necessary. A heated outdoor pool, four lighted tennis courts and fitness room are available to guests.

As for the classic golf course at Pala Mesa Resort, the narrower front nine morphs into a more open back nine with more elevation changes, all while providing views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.

Golf Advisor review sphommathep called Pala Mesa a "fun golf course" in his four-star review, adding: "It is very nice golf course to play and good layout."

Mike Bailey and Brandon Tucker contributed to this story.

More photos

Sycuan Resort - Oak Glen GC - hole 6San Vicente Golf Resort - hole 2Carlton Oaks golf course

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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