As a rule, downhill par 5s in golf are just fun. Throw in some scenery and you’ve really got something special.
That’s what you have in No. 8 at Aviara in Carlsbad, home of the LPGA’s KIA Classic.
No. 8 plays to 519 yards from the blues and 489 yards from the whites, but you can throw those numbers out because of the topography. It plays much shorter.
The tee shot is one of those that gets your juices going. There’s nothing but downhill and an interstate-wide, tree-lined fairway in front of you. Ideally, you want to be right here for the best approach angle and the good news is that you can go even more right than it seems. But the left side is manageable too; you just won’t be harboring hopes of getting home in two.
Strip one 290-300 on the right and you’re in the go zone here, but with an asterisk. The green is fronted by water – a creek to the left that fills a pond on the right. If the pin is front right, you’re laying up. A narrow green and surrounding water make it too much of a risky play.
However, pin middle or left and you’re likely thinking eagle, as the LPGA players undoubtedly do.
I’ve never gone for it here. My usual play is driver then 6- or 7-iron to a comfortable wedge shot. The approach amphitheater is one of the best on the course. At about 150 yards, you have a waterfall in the left, creating a bucolic setting.
Looking down on the sizeable green, this is an approach shot you can feel comfortable sticking from a ways out, but I’ve always felt most comfortable about 100-120 yards out on the right side. A correctly judged shot should leaves you with a look at birdie, though there’s always that putt, which at Aviara tends to be slippery.
The walk to the green from behind gives you another view of this beautiful hole to appreciate, looking back over the water and up the fairway.
The par 5s at Aviara, as at most courses, are your chance to really make a mark on the scorecard, but that’s particularly true at the 8th. You’ll be kicking yourself a bit if you let this one get away. No. 8 falls within a trio of downhill holes at Aviara that set up for a strong close to your front nine.
The recommendation here is to play the percentages, take a little time to appreciate the views and best of luck with the putt.