From Bingo To Golf

Petco Park, in A Trip of a Lifetime
January 20, 2020
Celebrating 50 Years
January 20, 2020

Chances are you will never hear B-4 or N-33 called out on a golf course. Probably FORE!, but not B-4. However, if it weren’t for bingo numbers like B-4 and N-33, there would be fewer golf courses in the US . Profits from bingo and casino gaming have helped Native American tribes rebuild tribal communities, build schools and hospitals, and provide care for tribal elders. Profits have also helped US tribes diversify their business activities by building or purchasing golf courses. Today, according to Kansas Native America Golf Pro Steve McDonald, there are 27 golf courses owned by Native American tribes.

Prominent tribal owned courses in the San Diego area include the Barona Creek Golf Club in Lakeside and the Sycuan Resort and Casino courses in El Cajon .

The subject of this issue’s column is the 18 hole Par 72 championship Barona Creek Golf Club. Next issue, on the eve of its 50 th Anniversary, we’ll review Sycuan Resort and Casino’s two championship courses, Oak Glen and Willow Glen, and Pine Glen, its executive course. The Barona Creek Golf Club, built and opened in 2001 by the Barona Band of the Mission Indians, is a championship public, daily fee course. Located in a wide picturesque valley surrounded by rock-strewn hills, Barona’s rolling terrain makes for a most enjoyable links-like experience. It has beautifully maintained fairways and large, fast greens that have both subtle and dramatic breaks. Over 100 bunkers combine with challenging slopes, creeks, boulders and 170 native oak trees to make club selection extremely important.

When you play Barona, make use of the excellent GPS system in each cart to help you select the right club. There are five sets of tees on Barona’s 7088-yard course. If you choose the tees suitable to your golfing ability, and bring your straight drives, you’ll find the fairways wide and accepting and the golf ball swallowing native grasses no problem. However, if you have a tendency to spray your tee shots, bring an extra ration of balls and forget about chasing the course record of 62.

My favorite holes are the 406-yard Par 4 ninth hole and 176-yard Par 3 sixteenth hole. The ninth hole, the number 9 handicap, is not the hardest but it is certainly one of the most scenic. A lake borders the fairway to the left, a rambling creek runs across the fairway near the green, and Augusta white bunkers at the green beckon with a come hither look. With the 400 room Barona Valley Ranch Hotel and surrounding hills in the background, this front nine finishing hole will make you stand for a moment to take in the majesty of your surroundings.

The Par 3 176-yard sixteenth is also a favorite but for different reasons. I love the challenge of shooting to its narrow green nearly surrounded by bunkers. Once safely on the green the challenge is not over as the green is wide, fast and undulating. Even from the second longest tees at only 137 yards, this 18th handicap hole is not a pushover. When Director of Golf and PGA Class A Professional Don King was asked to describe golf at Barona Creek he said, “Barona will challenge you but will allow you to play your game”. Touring pros Phil Mickelson, Chris Riley, Scott Simpson, Lon Hinckle and Notah Begay have all played Barona and enjoyed its challenges. Average golfers also like Barona’s challenges but say they can still play their game and have a fun time. Bob Fagan, co author of California Golf Universitee, a catalog of California golf courses, says “Barona is right up there with the very best public-access courses in all of Southern California . It is architecturally solid and a good value to boot”.

Other kudos Barona has receive include ranking as the 3 rd Best Resort Course in California, and 18 th best resort course in the United States by Golfweek Magazine, and, rating as the 2 nd best golf course in San Diego by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Following golf, relax and enjoy a meal in one of the resorts many restaurants including The Branding Iron Cafe, The Ranch House Buffet, the Ho Wan Asian Restaurant, or the upscale Barona Oaks Steakhouse. If you get the urge to tempt lady luck, you can do so in Barona’s 300,000 square foot casino. You might even hear B-4 or N-33. Visit Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino’s website at, or call the Barona Creek Golf Club at 619-387-7018 when you are ready for an outstanding golf outing in the San Diego area.