Written by Joe Laing

Orange County golf courses are truly world class. Described as golfers' paradises to golfers' sanctuaries, several of them, in Irvine, will inspire you to improve your game. Whether you are traveling to Irvine for vacation or you live here, the real challenge may be how to pick the course you like best.

How to Pick Your Favorite Course

Here is a short synopsis of four local courses and their unique characteristics. Of course, playing the links is the only way you will know your favorite, so we suggest you play each and see which inspires you most.

1. Strawberry Farms Golf Club

Strawberry Farms is a public par-71, 6,700-yard course set amongst the picturesque canyons just south of the San Diego freeway (I-405) in Irvine. Its rolling greens and natural wetlands beauty include a 35-acre reservoir, natural waterfall and granite boulders. Doug DeCinces, former California Angels third baseman, developed the course.

The club has a great "old school" clubhouse, a driving range, a putting green, and a well-known David Leadbetter Golf Academy training center. The course can be narrow in spots, but overall it is a great, well-maintained course.

Strawberry Farms

2. Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course

Just east of San Diego Creek, you will find Rancho San Joaquin. This course may be more challenging for some golfers as there are various aspects like the rippling furrows of some of the putting greens. These will challenge even experienced players. Golf course architect William Francis Bell designed the course in 1964. Since opening in 1970, it has been a landmark course in Irvine. Rancho San Joaquin is set along a coastal inlet and features three different lakes. This locale is host to various summer camps with more than 200 juniors each year attending their programs.

3. Oak Creek Golf Club

Oak Creek Golf Club made it to the top 50 of public golf ranges in 2012 and 2013. This course, owned and operated by Irvine Company, received this honor bestowed by the Golf Range Association of America (GRAA). It is located just south and west of I-5, in the heart of Irvine.

Designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1966, Oak Creek is home to a true "golfer's sanctuary." Golf Digest has rated it in 2009 with "4 stars" and as one of the "Best Places to Play."

Their large practice facility features a 100-yard wide natural grass practice tee, three practice greens and a large practice bunker. Golfers have access to many resources to help them improve their game including the Oak Creek Golf Academy where any level golfer can take advantage of private, semi-private or group clinic-style lessons.

Oak Creek Golf

4. Tustin Ranch Golf Club

While technically in Tustin, the Tustin Ranch Golf Club is just a short drive north on I-5 and CA Rte 261 from Irvine. Readers of the Orange County Register voted this 6900-yard, Par 72-course, "Best Orange County Golf Course 2009." It also has won a 4-star rating from Golf Digest Magazine several years in a row. Rated very highly, this course with breathtaking scenery is a golfer's paradise; a public club with a private feel. It is very popular with locals and visitors alike.

With the unique approach of the Golf School at Tustin Ranch, you can have your golfing abilities assessed as well as your golf fitness. You can get in shape and improve your golf performance at the same time.

Two more noteworthy golfing spots in Irvine:

5. PGA Tour Super Store, 107 Technology Drive
Just off the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) at Barranca Parkway, you will come to Technology Drive. Besides being home to many high-tech chip makers, Orange County also hosts a PGA Tour Super Store to help you learn to make the most of your chip shots. Here you can find everything from high-tech Callaway Big Bertha Drivers to Nike Short Sleeve Polo shirts and ECCO Street Retro Golf shoes. Find just about anything you need for golf at the PGA Tour Super Store.

6. OC Indoor Golf, 17145 Von Karman Avenue
In this unique indoor setting, you can choose to play golf on any one of 43 courses around the world. There is the real-life simulation of the greens and fairways of St. Andrew's Old Course or Spyglass Hill at Pebble Beach, the doglegs and sand traps of Abu Dhabi National Course and Carnoustie's Scottish course, just to name a few. Travel the world's best courses without ever leaving home. You can make an appointment for expert coaching from owner, George Henry, PGA Pro.

With some of the best year-round weather for golf, and some of the best courses and golf clubs anywhere, Orange County and Irvine area golf courses are recognized as some of the best golf destinations in the world. Find your favorite course here and come back often.

About the Author: Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. His website is http://www.elmonterv.com/