They say that great things come in small packages. That’s because there are limited-size 18-hole golf courses that are definitely worth playing.

You don’t have to do golf layouts in the 7,000-yard-plus range to enjoy the whole experience. The Los Lagos Golf Club more than fits the bill.

Located off Tuers Road and moments from Highway 101 in San Jose, Calif., this short 5,393-yard par-68 course course will more than satisfy your appetite for an enjoyable and challenging round of golf. This picturesque piece of property that was designed by Brian Castello and developed in a park-like setting is completely surrounded by a medium-priced home development that could have been there before the course was opened for play in 2002. Because of this, you will find many holes that are fenced-in by mile-high wire defensive framing.

You can’t say that the fencing helps in the natural beautification of Los Lagos, but there are many holes that are hidden by redwoods, oak, deep under brush and forested creek that more than offset the supporting mesh and metal posts that are around to avoid broken windows and other problems.

There are many holes that are separated from each other entailing long rides through their natural forested environment and over bridges to the following holes. It’s just a matter of observing their designated markers so you won’t get lost. There are also acres of environmentally sensitive areas where looking for lost balls is a “no-no” unless you are in the act of retrieving a Pro V1 within reach of your longest club in your bag.

Los Lagos consists of nine par threes, four par fours and five strong par fives. There is enough strength in some of its holes to make this golf course far from being easy and monotonous. It’s also especially true when you have to contend with water holes at Nos. 4, 6, 9, 12 and 16. They didn’t name it Los Lagos for nothing.

A 500-yard par five starts the proceedings with water to the left side of the four-tee driving area. It’s an upward thrust to an expansive bunker controlling the left side of a generous size green that breaks from left to right. It’s followed by the first of many one shooters that weighs in at 157 yards. This is the only double green that also makes the par-three No. 8 of 197 yards stand out from the rest of the course. The two-level oversize surface that elevates from front to back also breaks sharply from right to left while being backed up by front and back bunkers.

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After a long ride, it’s the No. 3 one-shot hole. A par four of 291 yards makes up for its short distance as it’s accompanied by a large lake on its right side with close trees on its left side, limiting fairway room in-between. If you are looking for action and strength with the driver, you can take a tee shot on a long ride over the water to a green that turns sharply right at the end of the hole.

Los Lagos prides itself on No. 6, its best of the best 567-yard par 5. It takes off on a majestic ride along fenced-in terrain on its immediate left as you make your way along narrowing fairway and downward where a lake hangs around on the right side. The water also faces the right side of the green. There are also two formidable bunkers on its left side. The putting surface is two levels with breaks from right to left that creeps slightly down in the rear.

A testy par three of 113 yards greets you at No. 7 with a substantial bunker covering the right side of the green and another smaller sand trap across the way. It’s where you will also contend with a two-level green with huge breaks that cater from left to right. Then a long ride takes you to No. 8 tee with beautiful foliage to keep your mind off the golf game. What awaits you is 197 yards of fun on the uplifting double, tilting green that undulates from left to right while raising from front to back.

The 485 yard par five No. 9 travels downhill with trees close enough to get in trouble on both sides. If you are looking for a place to stay cool with an interesting left-sided waterscape, you have to wait until you reach the bottom portion of the fairway. There you will find a sculpted pond fronting the elevated kidney-shaped green that slopes slightly downward.

The back side starts the golf ball rolling on 523 yards of uphill, undulating fairway with some quality bunkering especially on the right side where the green says hello. They are not deep but widespread and the putting surface hanging large is noted for its sloping bottom-to-top characteristics. If you are looking for the best of Los Lagos’ three pars, the 177-yard No. 12 gets the grand prize. An expansive pond hangs wet from tee to green with safe but dwindling turf grass on the far right. The oversized putting surface is raised while curving from right to left.

Another par three that shows off its water attributes is the 148-yard No. 16 with aqua on its right quarter. Once the predominantly poa annua green is attained you will find it oversized and slightly undulating with breaks making its way from left to right.

The 583-yard No. 18 ends the Los Lagos experience with everything outstanding and superlative from tee to green. From the driving grounds you will see a faraway sculpted pair of fences as you get close to the clubhouse with fencing throughout the left side of the entire hole. As the well-groomed turf grass continues downhill, you will contend with a bundle of bunkers as the fairway turns right at the end of the course with a slight elevation. Putter land consists of semi two-level property that turns sharply from right to left

What brings out multitudes of golfers at most hours is the course’s lighted, two-tier driving range along with a restaurant and full-service bar. As the San Jose Mercury News said “Los Lagos, a beautiful oasis in the center of urban San Jose.”

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  1. I would also recommend The Ranch if you are in San Jose. Tough track but beautiful and well conditioned. Flip side of the coin from Los Lagos. Not easy, not cheap, imaculately maintained.

  2. Nice review. This is one, if not the top confidence booster courses in the south bay. The greens are iffy in certain spots, but within 15 feet they are predictable and makeable. The rough is usually thick and the fairways/tee boxes are not trimmed properly. However, every par 4 leaves a short iron in and 3 of the 5 par 5’s are easily reachable in 2. Its defintely a good buy every now and then on golfnow.