Aviara's par-5 8th presents a slew of challenges framed by water hazards and greenery.
Carlsbad’s Aviara Golf Club is among Arnold Palmer’s best design work
Aviara Golf Club is known for its many on-course amenities. Lush fairways, native wildflowers, rolling hillsides, picturesque views of the Batiquitos Lagoon nature preserve and its seaside ambiance along the Pacific Coast come to mind.
But what most golfers don’t know is the backstory behind one of the course’s most distinctive features: its extra-large, undulating greens.
Back when the 7,007-yard, par-72 Arnold Palmer design was being developed in the early 1990s, somebody involved in the construction made a fairly significant math error, and it wasn’t until nine of the greens had been built that anyone noticed they were each twice the size they were intended to be. After some debate, it was decided to continue forward by increasing the size of the remaining nine greens.
And that’s how the Carlsbad gem came to have some of the largest putting surfaces of any course in Southern California.
Aviara is known for its large, undulating greens, such as on the tantalizing par-3 11th hole.
“The greens are the defense of the golf course; very large with quite a bit of slope and undulation,” said Renny Brown, Aviara’s Director of Golf for more than 20 years, adding that spending some time on the practice putting green is advised prior to heading to the first tee. “It is not uncommon for a player to have 75- to 100-foot putts during their round. Low scores can be had, and good putting is the way to go about it at Aviara.”
Named by Golf Digest earlier this year as one of Palmer’s 10 best designs (among many other awards and honors bestowed on the course over the years), Aviara challenges golfers not only with its large greens, but also with plenty of bunkers as well as several water hazards.
Stream beds border each side of the green to create an island green effect on the par-3 third hole.
Set just a well-struck driver from the Pacific Ocean and right in the center of what has been dubbed the flower capital of the world, the course’s lush landscaping and views make it as photogenic as it is fun.
Among the course’s signature holes, its collection of par-3s are considered among the most scenic in the region.
“The third hole is on the shorter side, stretched out from the Palmer tees to play only 149 yards, but two stream beds come down each side of the green to create an island green effect,” Brown said. “Holes 11 and 14 are also very worthy of being included on that signature hole list, and the par-5 eighth hole, which runs right along our Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, is a wonderful risk-reward hole, with a lake fronting the very reachable green.”
The par-4 18th is a sturdy risk-reward finisher with water along the right side leading up to the green.
Like any great course, Aviara leaves you with lasting memories thanks to the 443-yard par-4 18th, a fantastic risk-reward finishing hole with water all along the right side and a deep but narrow green. It bears a striking resemblance to the famous finishing hole at Palmer’s Bay Hill club in Florida.
“It’s a great hole to settle any wagers, as par is a great score,” Brown said. “You may even find that a bogey or double bogey will win your match.”
Palmer (leaning on truck top) surveys the 15th hole during construction. At right, the finished product.
Aviara has been home to the LPGA’s Kia Classic since 2013. While it was rescheduled and later cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tournament officials expect the world’s best female golfers to return for the tournament’s normal March slot for 2021.
The property will celebrate its 30th anniversary next July, and the staff’s attention to service is fitting for a club that is part of the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, which recently underwent a $50 million transformation.
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