Carlton Oaks Golf Club is an 18-hole championship course in the small valley town of Santee, California, located just 20 minutes northeast of downtown San Diego. It s a favorite tee time among local and visiting golfers who appreciate good value and revel in a varied and challenging layout that makes excellent use of a scenic river valley setting. Good players gravitate to the club. Over the years Carlton Oaks Golf Club has built up a rich tournament history, having hosted numerous prestigious collegiate competitions, the Canadian Tour, and qualifying for the PGA Tour's annual stop at Torrey Pines. This is also one of the courses Phil Mickelson grew up playing as a junior. Though the original parkland-style course (a welcome contrast to San Diego s many canyon-style layouts) opened back in 1958, Carlton Oaks Golf Club s renown soared when the late Perry Dye redesigned the playing field in 1989. Perry Dye worked on Carlton Oaks Golf Club on his own, but it s clear his work was influenced by his illustrious dad, Pete Dye. Many of the bunkers are lined by railroad ties. You ll also find some pot bunkers, large waste areas, mounding, and, on the signature 11th and 12 holes, which sit on opposite sides of a pond, peninsula greens reined in by bulkheads. Locals have dubbed the tough stretch from 10-12 "The Oak Trap, but the most enjoyable stretch of Carlton Oaks Golf Course follows, as the holes play amidst cottonwood trees. Long hitters delight that they can bring out their driver on this playing field that tops out at a whopping 7,410 yards. The course plays long overall, but with five additional sets of tee markers, everyone can find an appropriate distance to play from. The forward tees measure 5,039 yards. Just beware that in typical Dye-family fashion, Perry Dye s fairways narrow in spots. The design calls upon players to approach from the proper angle to hold the large, tricky-to-read putting surfaces (there are lots of double breaks) that are another strong suit of Carlton Oaks Golf Club. The club s practice facilities include a driving range, a chipping area with a sand bunker, and a putting green. In addition to the pro shop, the clubhouse is home to The Oaks Bar & Grill, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can eat inside, where you ll find an abundance of big-screen TVs or out on the patio. Santee residents rate the restaurant as one of the town's best. Carlton Oaks Golf Club may not have the cachet of some of San Diego s higher-end playing fields, but this tournament-tested Dye-designed layout is one of the best deals in the area.