Tag Archives: par-3

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Highlight Hole: No. 17 at the Grand Del Mar

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The blog is about to go on a mini-vacation, but wanted to post this from my round this week at the Grand Del Mar before signing off. I’ll be writing more about the Grand after the break so you can look forward to that. It was one of the biggies I hadn’t played in San Diego, so it was nice to finally have the experience.

I’d heard about golf at the Grand in general over the years, but not in specifics. Well, here’s one of the secrets its keeps from golfers who don’t play their rounds at that price point: They might have the toughest par 3 in San Diego.

I haven’t spent much time pondering that list – No. 11 at Torrey (South) comes to mind along with No. 17 at Encinitas Ranch and, if we step a couple paces past the county line, No. 17 at Journey at Pechanga is worthy – but let’s make 17 at the Grand the tentative No. 1 seed.

Difficulty isn’t your first thought when you come to the hole; it’s beauty. I mean, look at it.

Tom Fazio built a masterpiece here with a half-island green guarded by water on the left and a postage stamp of a bunker on the right (“That’s a busy little bunker,” our caddie assured us) and surrounded by a setting that evokes Aviara comparisons.

You admire the scene for a bit, then realize you have to play it … and then the caddie gives you the yardage.

“It’s 242 yard from the pro tees,” he says, “but it plays 256-260 because it’s always into the wind.”

Gulp. We opted not to even play that one for fun. Phil just practiced here. 3-iron? Hybrid? I’d love to watch that.

It’s 216 from the blacks, and 178 from the blues – our tees. I played it like 200 and pulled hybrid. I hit it great, but then the familiar shot shape showed up – starting right, hooking left … uh oh.

My ball bounded off the left bank – but, hey, pin-high – and joined the half dozen other Titleists in the lake. My playing partner fared no better.

I simply took a drop, finished out and doffed my cap to a hole that makes you feel like just got a taste of the PGA Tour. And, appropriately, I was going home within the hour as would be the case at (insert your Tour event of choice here).

While driving to 18, I started to talk strategy for 17 with the caddie and recalled a Tom Watson lament from earlier this year. He wondered my players never check their ego and lay up on a difficult par 3.

It doesn’t take Dr. Phil – or Dr. Bob Rotella, for that matter – to answer that one, but you could certainly make a case for Watson’s strategy here. There is ample room short to place a 7 iron and then wedge it in and hope for a one-putt.

But the fun in that would be … ?

I hope I get another crack at 17 sometime because it just made my list of San Diego holes where I’d like to make par or better. But there’s only one way I’m going to do that …

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Highlight Hole: No. 3 at Aviara

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Editor’s Note: You can find my overview of the playing experience at Aviara at the San Diego Tourism Authority’s web site: bit.ly/1ydQlF4

The short par 3 3rd at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad is the course’s signature hole, and for good reason. It’s as fun to play as it is botanically beautiful. The hole is at its peak this week for the LPGA’s KIA Classic. You know it when the reddish/orange tree in the backdrop is in bloom. It’s simply stunning.

The hole has a longish green that slopes back to front and is surrounded by a creek, ponds, a waterfall and a dazzlingly array of colorful foliage. The green is accessible by a wooden bridge, which only adds to the ambiance.

The hole is played from split tee boxes, which change the challenge and perspective on this hole. It plays to a max yardage of 149 yards and 147 from the blue tees.

Members will tell you that while a front pin may make the hole play shorter, a putt back to a front hole location is a slippery proposition. The better scoring opportunities are middle and back.

This hole also provides a preview of what are arguably the strongest group of par 3s in San Diego. Each are beautiful, and only the uphill par 3 6th doesn’t involve a carry over water.

Simply seeing No. 3 live and in peek condition might be worth the price of admission on its own this week. People I sent the above photo to this week thought it was photo-shopped. Nope. It’s just that good – naturally.

What follows is a photo tour of this spectacular par 3. I hope you enjoy the views.

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3 again

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from bridge

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Highlight Hole: No. 16 at La Costa (Champions Course)

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    As you know about the blog by now, we love to write about golf holes and can spill a thousand words about one at the drop of a hat. With No. 16 at La Costa’s Champions Course, that isn’t necessary. Pictures suffice.

    I’ve played each side of the renovated course twice now and can report this is easily the prettiest hole on the course. I played it again yesterday and was reminded of that. No. 16 is a 160-yard par-3, and you either make the green or you don’t. Besides the traps, there’s a bailout right. I hit an easy 7-iron, but most days it’d be a club less because you’ve got the ocean breeze behind you.

    Everyone in our threesome hit the green – and no one made the putt. I will say, though, that my 15-footer stopped an inch short due to recent maintenance, which created slow green conditions. Any other day, that putt goes in.

    No. 16 comes amid a great stretch of finishing holes that is more scoreable (and fun) that what awaits you on the Legends Course – the famed “Longest Mile in Golf.” I finally got my game together and played the final five holes in two-over. That’s the best stretch I’ve put together in a while.

     Anyway, if you club 16 right, it’s a great scoring opportunity on that home stretch. It’s also one of the holes you see as you arrive at the course. It’s just as fun to play as it is pretty to look at. I hope you get a chance to experience it.

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Highlight Hole: Meadow Lake GC No. 4

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First, the bad news about the par-3 4th at Meadow Lake Golf Club in Escondido: This is where play backs up.

The good news: You won’t mind. This hole is as much a joy to look at as it is to play.

No. 4 plays to 176 yards from the back tees and 160 from the blues, but the significant elevation change makes it play significantly shorter. The yardage book says one to two clubs “under normal conditions,” but it played to three clubs with the wind behind us the first time I played it. That meant I reached with an easy 9-iron.

The next time I played it, however, the wind was coming from the right and a smooth 8-iron found the front left trap. I’ve played it three times now and it hasn’t played the same twice.

That’s part of the fun of this hole, which I’m told used to play to a par-5 – using what’s now the No. 5 green – but it was changed to a par-3 to spare homeowners from errant tee shots.

Meadow Lake is uniquely situated with views of the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain ranges. That makes for several stunning vistas, but none are better than what you see off the tee at No. 4.

While the tee shot is a bit of a guessing game – fyi: there’s ample room short and left – it’s only half the battle. I have yet to par this hole despite three great chances. The green is deceptively slippery, with putts moving right and being unexpectedly quick. It’s tough to prepare for if you haven’t played here previously. I’ve decided I’m going back until I make par or better here.

Southern California is blessed with a bevy of fun elevated par-3s. Add Meadow Lake to list of those check out. I’m banking par will elude you at first and you’ll want to come back, if not for the score then for the view.

JC Golf Spotlight Hole: No. 17 at Encinitas Ranch

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Photo courtesy of JC Golf

There are ocean views from 11 holes at Encinitas Ranch, but water – not the ocean – only actually comes into play on three.

The one hole where you get the most of both is No. 17.

Played against an expansive backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, and often into an ocean breeze, the par-3 17th lurks as potential stumbling blocking toward the end of your round.

Playing to 185 yards from the blues and 160 from the white, the large pond to the right has attracted its share of tee shots over the years. But with the large green to hit and the bailout area to the left, that doesn’t have to be you.

Encinitas Ranch General Manager Erik Johnson says people playing the hole for the first time make a common mistake that leads to bad outcomes.

“You don’t want to go at the right side of that green, even when the pin is over there,” he says. “That doesn’t allow enough room for your miss, and the next thing you know your shot is high, right and caught in the wind and you’re wet.”

(FYI: If your ball finds the lake, the drop zone is about 50 yards from the left front of the green.)

When I played the hole recently, I felt my felt my threesome had a fairly representative experience. My first playing partner’s tee shot met the fate described above. My other partner missed the green short and left.

Having my own history with this hole, I chose to club up and ignore the front pin and try to hit the middle of the green. My hybrid carried beyond the back of the green and right, where I discovered a collection area I didn’t know existed.

The two of us who stayed dry off the tee both got up and down for par. Our third impressively scrambled to save bogey.

We played the hole around 4 p.m., the time when Johnson says the hole is usually play its toughest.

“About 10 or 11 in the morning that prevailing wind kicks up,” he says. “It starts out as about one club and then can become two, especially when the pin is in the back. And people don’t factor in that as the day gets cooler, the fall doesn’t fly as far, so you might lose 10 yards off your 5-iron.”

And from the back tees, largely because of the wind, this hole is a long iron for most players, including Johnson.

“The best strategy I’ve come up with is to take a little bit more club, choke down and always play to the left-hand side of the green,” he says. “I’m going to resign myself to a two-putt or getting up and down if I miss the green.

“But that chip isn’t a gimme. It challenges people.”

No. 17 follows a short par-4 and leads into the par-5 18th. Johnson says there’s a chance for a strong close to your round -as long you don’t let it get away at 17.

“What you really don’t want is double bogey or worse,” he says. “Four is a pretty OK score on 17 and three can feel like a birdie.”

Tom Watson lamented on Twitter recently – yes, Tom Watson is on Twitter – that players who are smartly willing to lay up on tough par-4s and -5s, stubbornly won’t use the same approach on a par-3.

If you really struggle with this hole, that might be something to consider here.

Feel free to share your successes, struggles and strategies for No. 17, especially if you’ve ever made an ace here. JC Golf would love to hear about your experiences with this challenging par-3.

You can also find this post at jcgolf.com, where you can also book a lesson or a tee time at one of their six North County courses.

JANUARY 2014 SOUTHLAND GOLF

Update: Arrowood recorded its first hole-in-one on Just One on Jan. 6, earning the winner $2,000.

Sherwood CC Bonus Hole: No. 17

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Seeing as Tiger won’t be back next year, might as well clean out my Sherwood files, right?

Yesterday’s post got a fairly good response, so thought I’d post another hole. I realized this morning I’ve also got a great shot of the 17th hole at Sherwood, another par-3.

Again, I’ll let sherwoodcountryclub.com do the introductions for No. 17:

The tee shot on the 166-yard, par-3 eighth hole is from an elevated tee to the smallest green on the course. A large, very deep collection bunker gathers most of the shots short of the green, and a small hazard with a waterfall protecting the back of the green. Missing the green to the right will often result in a bounce off the bank onto the green. Needless to say, club selection is very important on this innocent-looking hole.

From the tee, this looks like a sure par. What I didn’t account for was flying the green and having to hack out of a tough downhill lie to a green sloping away from me. That turned par into bogey.

Doubt the pros will make that mistake, but will curious to see how many birdies this hole yields. Hardly the toughest hole at Sherwood, but certainly a fun one.

photo-131The view behind the green

Highlight Hole: No. 15 at Sherwood CC

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Tiger Woods’ World Challenge plays its final rounds at Sherwood Country Club this week, making this possibly the public’s last view for quite some time of a remarkable private golf venue.

Besides seeing how the pros play No. 18, a tight downhill par-4 to a heavily sloped green fronted by a pond, I’m curious to see how the sixth hole represents on TV.

No. 15 is an incredible par-3 and the course’s signature hole, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Before adding my two cents, here’s the description you get of No. 15  from Sherwood’s web site.

The 189-yard par-3 is the signature hole of Sherwood Country Club. You are greeted by a spectacular view over seven pools and 14 waterfalls with beautiful mountains set as the backdrop. The tee shot is all carry over the water to a green that is only 21 paces deep, so make sure you have the right club, or par will become unattainable.

It’s a stunning amphitheater for a golf hole, one you just want to bask in during your round.

The mountain backdrop is absolutely huge and is part of what makes this hole so awe-inspiring. And the water features are some of the most intricate I’ve been around.

Taken together, it should make for great TV, or a destination hole for you if you’re making the trek to Sherwood.

The day I played it, thanks to being probably clubbed by my caddie, I had no trouble hitting the green. The putt, however, was another matter. It was as touchy as any on the course. The green tilts back-to-front and has subtle undulations I underestimated the first time. Curious to see how the pros do.

You can find descriptions for the rest of the holes under the country club tab at www.sherwoodcountryclub.com. Looks like the weather should be better than last year for the weekend and will hopefully make for a memorable sendoff. If you tune in, look for No. 15 and enjoy a last televised glimpse at a truly great golf hole.

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