Last week, I added a new tool to my social media toolbox when I began dabbling with the new Layout feature on Instagram.
For those aren’t familiar, Layout, as it suggests, arranges your photos into layout templates that you can manipulate to create collages. Those who know me know this is the kind of thing that can send me down a creative rabbit hole for hours – or days – and it did. I’m still experimenting and exploring as the possibilities became apparent.
My immediate application was for my golf course photos. I’ve received many compliments on them in the history of the blog – thank you – and sometimes for how I present them on social. Well, here’s the best way yet. The possibilities are far beyond just what I’m showing you here, but here are some samples for courses you should recognize from golfing in San Diego and following the blog.
What I immediately love about this is that when someone asks me about a local course, I can kick them one of these layouts because I think they capture the experience between than a single shot or series can.
Hope you like these. Get used to them because I can see manifest uses for this feature to enhance the visual presentation of the blog.
In case you aren’t following at Instagram: @socalgolfblog. I already have a veritable trove of videos and photos over there – and much more to come.
Editor’s Note: I had planned to write this after my last round at Torrey in June, but the summer schedules, projects, etc. got in the way. I was prompted to revisit what I started, however, when Golf Digest named the South Course at Torrey the 17th toughest course in the country so I’ve revived and completed that post. I can asked about Torrey all the time when I travel. Here’s the underlying truth beyond all the unbeatable views and dreamy scenery: It’s tough.
Playing the South Course at Torrey Pines reminds me of the joke about eating an elephant.
How do you eat an elephant?
Punch line: One bite at a time.
Same thing with the South Course, although you never eat the elephant; the elephant eventually eats you (or more like sits on you). But you learn to savor the little victories, such as:
I’ve played the South six times. I’ve parred the postcard-perfect par 3 3rd five of them, including in June. Little victory.
I stayed out of the right traps off the tee for the first time during that round. Little victory.
I finally hit the fairway on No. 12. Then … reality showed up.
But first a little of my personal history with this hole, because I think I can sum up the challenge of the South Course for amateurs in one hole.
The 12th is a straightaway par 4 played back toward the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of several long par 4s at Torrey that eventually grind amateurs to dust – and here’s why. Being 280 off the tee doesn’t cut it here as it does as many courses. At Torrey, that often still leaves you 180-190 or more (given the wind) to get home. Amateurs might connect on one or two long irons or hybrids like that a round, but not five or six. But that’s what Torrey does – it seems like you’re always one club beyond your comfort zone, even when you’re playing well.
From the blue tees, No. 12 plays a daunting 462 yards, but you can forget that number. Add 20-30 for the wind. It’s now a short par 5 posing as a par 4.
This outgoing par 4 shares a common boundary with the parallel par 5, No. 13. I’m acutely familiar with this territory because I’ve visited it off the tee – nearly every time. And I’ll never forget the first time.
After pushing my tee shot right, I finally located my ball in some deep rough (Note: I found five others first. Yeah.). Fully prepared to take my medicine, I pulled out a 5 iron and simply wanted to get back in the fairway. I hit it flush and then watched my ball come out like a dying quail. The best shot I had in me came up 5 yards short of the fairway and left me still battling the rough.
This is the emotional toll that Torrey takes. Exasperation with a side of double bogies becomes your fate.
With that in mind, let’s go back to No. 12 last June. The Cobra Fly-Z driver I’m playing is the straightest I have ever owned, which left me hopeful I might fare better on the difficult par 4s and particularly No. 12.
And sure enough, I hit a bomb right down the middle which … still left me 185 yards into the ocean wind.
Playing the shot more like 200, I flushed a hybrid that started right of the green (good) and then started to draw (holding breath) and then got pushed by the breeze into the left greenside trap (uh-oh) and into a recovery with an awkward stance (ugh).
My recovery flew into the opposing trap. My next out ran off the front of the green. I ended up taking 7 – from what’s Position A for most of us. That’s the South Course.
Feeling like I’d like just suffered scorecard whiplash, I turned to my playing partner, a local head pro, and asked, “So I was supposed to take 7 iron there and play for a wedge shot and par?”
He replied, “Maybe … but what fun would that be?”
And that’s how scorecards become virtual confetti on the South, which is why I don’t keep one. You learn to live for the pars 3s and 5s, the far better bets for your scoring chances.
And, to be clear, Torrey isn’t a good walk, it’s a great one. I recommend it to everyone but with a caveat to be prepared for a dose of tough love about your golf game on a tough golf course. I’ve taken the test of the South Course and prefer to break it down into pop quizzes.
And if I ever “ace” No. 3, I’ll be more emotionally bulletproof about a round at Torrey everafter.
The week Comic-Con arrived in San Diego, a friend and follower of my work asked me if I was going to blog about it.
I told him it hadn’t occurred to me.
“Well, it’s travel, right?” he stated, to which I replied, “Yes.”
“And doesn’t golf have a super hero?” he asked, to which I, after a contemplative pause, responded, “We used to.”
The headline hit my email inbox the Friday of the British Open, a day before Tiger Woods would officially miss the cut, but that conclusion was already foregone.
The Golf Digest headline popped up: “Tiger Woods Officially Finished”.
I copied it and popped it into a text to a few golf friends and contacts.
One replied immediately: “No, he isn’t.”
The dissenting voice was my former instructor, and golf swing mentor, at the Golf Academy of America, Michael Flanagan.
He followed with a text briefly backing up his belief. I offered to take up the matter with him in a future blog post. He agreed. And here we are.
One day in school in 2012 that I’ll never forget is the first time we were shown how to use V1, a video analysis program to teach the golf swing.
Among the many things you can do on V1 is take professional swings and break them down through sequencing and slow motion. You can also draw on the screen, which is done primarily to reinforce how well the pros maintain their posture.
The first swing we were shown to demonstrate the system was Tiger in his prime at the Masters. When you study a swing, the first thing you do is draw two lines – one along the spine and a vertical behind their behind. Then you draw a circle around the head. This tells you how well a player holds their form.
The instructor did this with Tiger’s swing … and pushed play.
Tiger tore into the golf ball and the video stopped just past impact. He hadn’t moved a micron within the circle or off his lines.
The instructor turned to the class and asked, “So what was there to fix?”
Being an instructor and a student of the game, Michael Flanagan studies golf swings the way Ron Jaworski studies quarterbacks. He has studied players past and present and can tell you exactly what makes a player’s swing his swing … in great detail. For instance, he can tell you, and show you, the 15 things that define Ernie El’s golf swing.
He’s analyzed swings for decades now – Hogan to Weiskopf to Woods – and is something of a swing Yoda. When he tells you something about a swing, it’s the truth. Whether you chose to believe or not is up to you. When he’s teaching you, his bluntness comes at you like a crowbar, but a bruised ego is a necessary part of the process when you’re trying to find the elusive greatness in your golf swing.
So what does Flanagan see when he looks at Tiger? A fundamentally flawed player who used to be the avatar of swing perfection.
“From a technical standpoint, the biggest issue he has is in his backswing. He lowers his head, which we call bobbing. When he swings, he’s got to pop up to clear. If he could just stay level, he’d be fine.”
And that’s it?
“Yes. He’s just got to stay level in the backswing, no matter what pattern he’s using.”
Wow. He could make that fix in the morning and win a major in the afternoon.
“Then he needs to just get out of his own way and let it happen. I’m telling you, he’s close.”
Unbeknownst to Mike, while he was teaching class, Tiger had reeled off his first four-birdie binge in nearly two years at the Quicken Loans National in Washington, D.C.
When you’re trying to figure out the state of Tiger’s game by listening to him talking, it gets confusing. But it turns out, it isn’t so much about reading between the lines with Tiger as it is speaking Tiger-ese. Not surprisingly, Mike speaks Tiger.
Here’s a Tiger term: Patterns. Explain.
“What he really means is technique. Great athletes, like Tiger, feel they can adapt to any swing technique, which he calls patterns. He’s got his patterns mixed up. And you can’t mix and match. You’ve got to be committed to one belief.”
Then Mike begins to deconstruct Tiger through his coaches and you see what he means. In basics, the philosophies of his four professional coaches are the four swings he’s tried on tour, three of which he’s won with, two of which had him on pace to be the greatest player of all time.
Those swing “patterns” conflict. It’s like speaking English, French, Chinese and Arabic. Trying to speak them all at once would be communication chaos. Even two at would make tongue-tied, or swing-tied in Tiger’s case.
“And I think Sean Foley (Tiger’s third teacher) was really trying to get him to swing around his limitation (his knee),” Flanagan says. “But there are a lot different ways to swing the golf club. The method employed is of no significance as long as it’s repetitive.”
So Tiger is having trouble scrubbing his swing hard drive? His formula for success is just rinse, swing, repeat?
He’s that close?
After a recent round where he spent another day moonwalking the leaderboard instead of charging up it, Tiger mentioned that he needed to check his “spin rate.”
This had the heads of the largely golf ignorant mainstream media spinning.
“His what?!?!?!?” was the outcry.
Those who know the teaching side of the game recognize this as TrackMan talk. TrackMan is the revolutionary swing tracking system that has literally changed the game in the last five years by being able to detect things imperceivable to the human eye, such as face angle at impact. (My favorite TrackMan term is Smash Factor – a number that quantifies centerdness of contact and velocity.)
Tiger is talking about a stat that, among other things, tells you how far your shot is offline. High spin means low fairways hit. Get it?
Which brings us to our next Tiger topic, which is him saying he can’t take his game from the range, where he’s rumored to strike it beautifully, to the course.
Mike has seen this before. It’s the difference between range mentality and game mentality.
“He’s not letting it happen on the course. He’s trying to make it happen. On the course, he’s thinking about mechanics, not his target, which is the course. He’s ball-bound.”
So does Tiger need to play more or practice more to get it back?
“I think you should practice as much as you play and play as much as you practice. But he needs to play more and get back in the heat of the competition. “
Oh, and lose his coach.
“Tiger knows enough now that he doesn’t need a coach. He knows more about the golf swing than most instructors do because he’s won at all levels, no matter what swing technique he’s used.”
Speaking of winning, Tiger now hasn’t won a major since the U.S. Open at Torrey in 2008, where he famously won a playoff with Rocco Mediate while playing on a broken leg.
So the last time Tiger played truly healthy is more than seven years ago. We might just be seeing it again now.
“Health is important to a golfer. You’ve got to be physically strong to play this game. Look how much they walk. They’re on their feet all day playing and practicing.”
If Tiger’s truly health, Mike still trusts the talent.
“How many guys have won on a broken leg?”
In fact, Mike was a believer for the British. In case you didn’t hear, that didn’t go well.
But maybe there’s hope for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in two weeks?
“Most people will think he has no shot. But he’s striking the ball well and just needs to see results. If he gets that driver under control …
“You’ve got to be able to drive it, wedge it and putt it. Tiger has always been able to do those three. But without any one of those three, it makes it difficult to play the game … for any player.”
Mike is keeping the faith Tiger will find his driver. Yes, he’s predicting a comeback.
“He will be back because of his work ethic. He’s dedicated to the game. He stills loves it and stills wants to excel. And he still wants to win majors.”
Tiger’s decline has denied the sports world – not just golf – the greatest sports storyline of our lives – Tiger surpassing Jack’s 18 majors. As we all know, he’s been stuck on 14 since Torrey. Mike doesn’t believe he’ll stay stuck.
“He can still win golf tournaments, including majors.”
What stands against him, even if he returns to his peak, is his age and the field … and time.
“He’s 39, and he’s past his prime. But with is experience, which is worth a lot, he can still get it done. Hey, Jack won at 46. That’s 24 majors away for Tiger.
“He’s still got all the tools in the toolbox. But he’s got to use them all to accomplish it because of all the talent that’s out there on the PGA Tour today. There was nobody close to him when he won the Tiger Slam.”
Now there’s Rory, Rickie, Dustin and, of course, Jordan.
“He inspired those guys and now he’s got to compete against them. But I think he can.
“Golf is the power game, the short game, the putting game, mental game and the course management game. He’s got to use them all.”
And if he does …
“He can win a major and even more than one.”
While Tiger’s victories have gone away, his galleries have not. Mike finds this fascinating … and telling.
“Everybody’s waiting for him to show up. They want to see it one more time because it was so unbelievable when he was doing it.”
So there’s a chance Tiger could be standing on the tee with history on deck at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2021?
The Century Club of San Diego, the nonprofit promotion arm for the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines, derives its name from the original donation amount asked of members.
When the club formed in 1961, members were asked to give $100, a gesture of support for their commitment to help raise funds for the fledgling tournament then known as the San Diego Open.
Just as the cost of membership has gone up – it’s now $1,250 – so has the significance, influence and impact of The Century Club.
In May, The Century Club announced that the tournament generated $3.1 donation to local charities. Century Club CEO and President Peter Ripa says awarding those donations is among the most meaningful parts of his job.
“We work with a lot of medium to smaller-sized charities,” Ripa says. “The numbers we are able to provide to them are meaningful, more so than they might be for some of the larger charities. For some of them, they’re able to do an entire summer program for kids that they otherwise couldn’t have done.”
For its overall contributions to the community, the San Diego Hall of Champions honored The Century Club with its 2015 Humanitarian Award in February. Ripa says the award had dual significance.
“The award is named after Ernie Wright, who started Pro Kids First Tee San Diego, which is one of our primary beneficiaries,” he says. “So it was ironic and special all at the same time.”
In his fourth year as CEO, the tournament has enjoyed the type of success Ripa envisioned when he took the job after serving in a similarity capacity for The Colonial, the PGA Tour’s stop in Fort Worth.
“I saw the opportunity of what this event represented. San Diego. Torrey Pines. Late January. I felt like I could sell that,” Ripa says with a wry smile.
Ripa coordinates the efforts of a group of 60 club members, the ones sporting the navy jackets at the tournament, and says the expectation of members is set from the outset.
“Our first-year members are provisional members,” he says. “Their duty is to provide warm introductions into relationships in the community, those businesses that value promoting San Diego, and let us help drive their business.”
Planning, promoting and especially improving the tournament experience are all year-round duties of The Century Club.
Ripa travels to industry events and at least six tour stops a year to glean ideas and foster relationships and partnerships. His overall emphasis has been to improve the fan experience, a primary example being the relocation of the entrance gate to near the Gliderport last year to improve efficiency of security and ticket checks.
“People were waiting 30 minutes to get in. They only way to improve that was to move the entrance. There wasn’t the opportunity in the old footprint,” he says. “We’re all fans. No one wants a 30-minute wait.
“We’ve now got the capacity, as more of our guests come through, to handle up to a 25 percent increase per year.”
Surveys showed the impact. Ticketholders and guests reported a 97 percent satisfaction rate, up from 96 the year before.
“It shows the incremental improvements from the investments. We’re working toward 100.”
Part of improving the fan experience is expanding it, Ripa says, through attention to concessions, the social experience, etc.
“What we’ve worked hard in promoting is that there’s more to experience than just the golf,” he says. “We’ve worked hard on the social areas to allow people to gather with friends and family and have a sandwich or a beer and enjoy a great day outdoors. We want them to realize the beauty of Torrey Pines and San Diego. It’s a world-class golf course.”
And as another world-class golf event – the 2021 U.S. Open – creeps closer, the Farmers, Torrey and San Diego will all benefit from the anticipation and exposure but will also be challenged to continue to provide a world-class experience.
One area getting lot of attention, Ripa says, is the rapidly expanding world of television, apps and online media and projecting what that will look like in 2021.
“The exposure for golf is growing, which will only benefit San Diego,” Ripa says. “In the end, it’s great for the players, the sponsors and the Tour as a whole, but it’s something you have to be prepared for. We want people from around the world to have access, and we’ll be ready.”
1. “Old” School Is Cool – When I walked onto Chambers Bay for the first time, I immediately felt transported back to my couch in past Augusts at 5 a.m. when the TV greeting of “We’re coming to you live from Royal Birkdale/Troon/Portrush, etc.” would send a giddy chill down my golf spine.
I’ve never been to a British, but it has to feel a lot like this, or at least that’s the impression you get as you start to walk and discover this tree-free (OK, one) and bunkered beautiful behemoth.
It’s an 8-year-old course with the feeling of something much older and ancient because of the aged look of the course and its link to links golf, the birth of the game. Chambers feels like it’s always been here, yet its history is being made in real time. How rare and incredibly cool for golf.
For sports comparison, let’s just say, the first football to fly at Jerry World was probably cool … but not this cool.
2. Background … Check – Chambers is really two experiences in one. There’s the course and then there’s the setting, which is breathtaking. The Puget Sound background would be awesome all but itself, but the touches of the tree and the train are not only stunning scenery but also incredibly smart visual branding of the course (more on this in a second).
On TV, Chambers is doing for the Pacific Northwest what the Farmers does for San Diego: It’s the best TV commercial it could ask for. Someone on local sports radio said as much yesterday … and that was by noon.
Experiencing Seattle for the first time, I can tell you the representation is spot on. The awesome just kind of keeps on going here. The only way it could be better at Chambers is if they could reposition Mt. Rainier behind a par 3 or put it on a floating barge for the week.
A scenic aside: I saw a sunset here on Wed. that blew me away. The mountains not only reflected pink, but a pink shaft of light seemed to connect the mountains to the clouds. As a sunset connoisseur … wow. My only regret is that I was massively out of position for a camera phone photo.
3. Three Words: Trains Are Awesome – I’d been on the course for five minutes when the first train came by. I just happened to be on No. 16 and captured the photo at top. How incredibly cool, and what an awesome way to incorporate the culture of the area into the course design.
The use of the train in the framing of the holes is an absolute masterstroke of course design. It evokes the same appreciation I have for California course designers in the way they use the ocean and mountains. There’s a serious art to this, and it’s my favorite thing about the game from a creative perspective.
Moreover, what the train does is give added identity to holes in a way you don’t see on the British courses. Aside from a few holes on St. Andrews (The Road Hole & No. 18), I can’t conjure exact visual reference of many specific holes in the British Open rotation. No disrespect, but I just see a bunch of heavily bunkered and flat generic holes, which is purely my TV perspective.
By the time Sunday is over, I think golfers will have a lot of visual reference of Chambers, partly due to the train. I realized this as soon as I sent the above photo to a golf friend, who texted back, “What hole is this? I can’t wait to watch it on TV.”
The use of the train as added backdrop for greens and tees is equally brilliant. And my guess is if/when the Open comes back here, someone will have bought a branded locomotive. In the old days, that would’ve been a total TaylorMade move.
4. Nos. 13-18, What A Finish – Watching the holes in progression for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how visually strong this course becomes from 13 (the tough par 4) on. During the practice round near this stretch, I was highly curious how it would translate on TV. The answer: It could scarcely be better.
What I really like is that the visual intimidation factor of the course comes across akin to how it does at TPC Sawgrass. This is made-for-TV golf that totally works and will only become more dramatic and effective as the tournament pressure and circumstances ramp up.
Dear Golf Gods: Can you please send us a Sunday horserace?
5. TV, Take Two – Aside from greens that aren’t well, green, (I had people asking me what was wrong with them), there’s another problem: The ball and hole aren’t always easy to track here, partly due to the lack of white-green contrast you normally get in golf. “Where’s the ball?” was a common refrain in our viewing session. Golf shouldn’t be like trying to track the puck in hockey, but that’s a bit of what we’ve got here. (Switch to orange balls, anyone?)
As for the hole issue, Fox actually highlighted one with a lime green circle late in the round. That didn’t seem to be the answer, but it was good to know someone had at least identified the problem and was trying.
Otherwise, the reverse angles of the course from Fox Island (and a barge perhaps; can I sign up to run Barge Cam?) are added awesome to an overall visual production full of it.
6. The Spectator Experience, The Other Shoe – Following this tournament on the ground is a combination of brutal and impossible, more so than just your usual difficulty at a PGA Tour event. This course is walkable in the same way the Himalayas are … it really isn’t. By comparison, Torrey Pines, for example, is a literal and figurative walk in the park.
On the ground, Chambers Bay is a steep, dirty sand box to negotiate with very few places for foot soldiers to get a great glimpse of the action. (That said, I didn’t get to 15, 16, 17, where it undoubtedly has to better than in the higher elevations.)
In what few view areas they are, fans are herded there like wildebeests meaning hardly anyone sees anything. I “heard” Phil and Bubba hit tee shots yesterday but in reality saw nothing. It’s just not very possible here.
I’m not going to drag this section out as to not detract from an overall fantastic experience. From the hospitality suite (the Trophy Room) overlooking the course on Wed., I had a blast, and that’s the way to play Chambers Bay from a fan’s perspective. You pay a little more, but you enjoy it more, are a lot less frustrated and have a perspective on golf unlike anyone other. It’s a lot like what you see on TV, which is what this place is really all about it. That’s not a criticism, just reality.
I’ve seen it before and am happy to enjoy it that way until the day I actually come here and play, which I suspect millions will want to do after seeing the broadcast this week.
Like the ending to a great book or movie, the 18th hole of a golf course should offer an experience that’s both satisfying and memorable.
Few things in golf beat a walk-off birdie, so consider this a short bucket list of places you’d like be lucky to score one in San Diego. The following is a list of some of the best finishing holes San Diego golf courses have to offer:
1. Rancho Bernardo Inn – William Bell, the designer of Torrey Pines and many other public courses in San Diego, did some of his best work on No. 18 at Rancho Bernardo Inn, a hole that’s as scenic as it is strategic.
This closing par 5 begins with a decision off the tee: Do you try to drive the culvert crossing the fairway at around 250 yards or do you lay up? From there, it’s all about positioning to this uphill hole protected by ponds and a stream. That’s a lot of watery waters for things to go wrong trying to reach this narrow, triple-tiered green. But whether you make birdie or bogey, the setting, which includes two fountains, makes the hole and experience unforgettable.
2. Aviara Golf Club – Possibly the most beautiful finishing hole in San Diego is also its most difficult. This dogleg right par 4 wraps around a lake with a magnificent waterfall and offers a gorgeous view of Batiquitos Lagoon on the left. The lake is a popular destination for tee shots – and second shots, as finding the fairway is no guarantee of anything. The second shot, while played to a sizeable green, is deceivingly difficult. The approach is played into a Pacific Ocean breeze that can push your ball right into the water or out of bounds left. Par feels like a birdie here. The pros on the LPGA Tour are even tested by this one.
3. Maderas Golf Club – This straight away par 5 starts with an elevated tee shot over a ravine to a fairway where a majestic giant oak marks the right side. Aim for the oak and then pour all you’ve got into your second shot on this long finishing hole. The green is situated in front of the Maderas clubhouse, which has the look of an Italian villa. You can putt out and then retire to the patio and enjoy a great view of the hole you just played.
4. Torrey Pines (South Course) – Design-wise, this flat, straightaway closing par 5 may seem fairly ordinary, but what’s happened here makes it extraordinary. As the finishing hole for the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, it gets the most TV time of any hole in San Diego. But the lore of No. 18 really ties back to 2008 and the iconic U.S. Open. This is where Tiger Woods trickled in a tricky 12-foot birdie to force the playoff with Rocco Mediate that made that Open legendary and turned Torrey into hallowed ground in golf. Here’s your chance to recreate history.
Honorable mentions: Golf Club of California, Balboa Park Golf Course, La Costa, The Vineyard, Coronado Municipal Golf Course
With nearly 90 courses to choose from, golf in San Diego is a veritable feast for your game – and your senses.
From jaw-dropping elevation changes and stunning sweeping vistas to breath-taking ocean views and brilliant botanical beauty, San Diego courses have all.
The following is all-too-brief list of some of the most camera-phone worthy holes in San Diego.
1. No. 3 (South Course) at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)
This iconic par 3 on the South Course, site of the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Opens, is San Diego’s most famous golf hole. Golfers worldwide make the pilgrimage just to hit this elevated tee shot and watch their ball soar into the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop. There’s also the captivating view of La Jolla in the distance. Played mostly from 160 or 149 yards, this isn’t the toughest hole at Torrey by any stretch, but it’s certainly the most memorable – and photogenic. Its sister par 3 is No. 6 on the North, which features a nearly 200-foot drop to the green and plays directly into an ocean breeze. A birdie on either hole is a bonus. A whale sighting is a double bonus.
2. No. 6 at Journey at Pechanga (Temecula)
After playing irons shots at Torrey, it’s time to pull out driver to play this awesomely elevated par 4 at Journey at Pechanga. Trust us when we say you will remember the first time you get glimpse of this tee shot. You’re basically hitting the ball off the side of the mountain and watching it soar like a dimpled seagull to the dogleg-left fairway below. The backdrop is a vast overview of Temecula that makes it seem like you can see all the way to wine country. And cheers to you if you hit a big one here. You’ll feel like Paul Bunyan.
3. No. 14 at Aviara Golf Club (Carlsbad)
Aviara, which is literally an 18-hole botanical garden, has several worthy candidates, but we have an affinity for No. 14, which is in the most remote part of the course. Like holes No. 3 and 11, 14 is an impeccably landscaped and elevated par 3 played over water. The green here is huge and gives you a second scenic treat when you reach it. To the left is a beautiful waterfall complex that’s home to an array of water birds splashing in the pond and soaring in the skies. A Golf Channel announcer said of No. 14 once, “If this hole doesn’t make you want to play golf, I don’t know what would.” Our sentiments exactly.
Photo courtesy of www.greenskeeper.org
4. No. 3 Coronado Municipal Course (Coronado)
The setting of the Coronado course – surrounded by San Diego harbor – makes it unique, but the glimpse you get of the Coronado Bay Bridge, a San Diego landmark, on holes 2 and 3 in particular is something special. We’re going with hole No. 3, a par 4, for the list because it gives you the most unobstructed view. As you progress through your round, you’ll also catch glimpses of passing Navy ships, downtown San Diego and the Hotel Del Coronado. Being perfectly flat, it’s an ideal course to walk and take in the evolving scenery around you.
Photo courtesy of www.jcgolf.com.
5. No. 7 at Encinitas Ranch (Encinitas)
The view at the par-4 7th at Encinitas Ranch isn’t so much about what’s in front of you as what’s behind. Looking back from the tee box, you can see a sweeping view of the two previous holes and a familiar blue hue in the background (the ocean). The scene is a pleasant surprise the first time you play the course and something you forward to when you return. And a bit like No. 14 at Aviara, this hole offers two distinct visual experiences. Your downhill approach is to a green accented by two star pines and a vast view of the valley beyond. When walking off the green, don’t forget your clubs – or to take a picture.