This closing par 5 starts with an elevated tee shot that can involve carrying a culvert and ends with an uphill approach to a triple-tiered green fronted by a creek and surrounded by two ponds with fountains.
The green view is the glimpse of the course that greets golfers at Rancho Bernardo Inn, and it’s stunning.
But for all its scenery, it’s a hole that requires more strategy than any other on the course. Rancho Bernardo Inn Director of Golf Bryon Penfield says No. 18 is one of the ultimate examples of a hole solved over time and rarely on the first try.
“You’ve definitely got to strategize there,” Penfield says. ”If you’ve playing it for the first time, you might get into some trouble.”
The hole is equal amounts trouble and temptation, which is another reason the hole is a local favorite.
“That hole is the most talked about amongst our regular players and guests,” Penfield says. “It’s got a unique design. It’s not your every-day golf hole.”
William Bell, the architect of Torrey Pines and many other public courses in Southern California, designed Rancho Bernardo Inn.
“His courses usually have some character,” Penfield says, “and No. 18 is a great example.”
Curiously, No. 18 was a much different golf hole when the course opened in 1962. Penfield says only a lake is present in photos of the hole’s original design.
“It was all grass and a lake,” Penfield says. “William Bell came back and added the water features later.”
And the lost ball count was forever changed.
The hole plays to 544 yards from the black tees, 527 from the blues and 508 from the whites. Not matter the tee, the tee shot immediately presents a challenge and a decision that makes this hole play as two different games – the first being a lone-drive contest.
A culvert crosses the fairway and comes into play off the tee. From the black tees, Penfield says it’s a 260-yard carry to cross, all be it often with a tail wind.
(Rule note: There is a bridge for golf cart crossing at the canal. For the most part, everything left of the bridge is considered a free drop by local rule and to the right is the water hazard. The area is marked in red.)
This is where the hole tempts the ego perhaps at the better judgment of strategy. It’s a macho moment to carry the culvert, but it doesn’t always prove to be the best play, Penfield says.
“There are a lot of different strategies there depending your length. Some guys will just fly it,” he says. “I’ve learned to play it as a three-shot hole.”
As have I. “Successful” crossings have sometimes left me blocked on the right side by trees. The rule here, Penfield says, is not to comprise your second shot with your first. Play short of the culvert and to the left of the fairway bunkers.
“The second shot is really big there,” he says. “Even if you make it, you’re still 220 out to an uphill, three-tiered green looking at creek and waterfall. That’s a challenging shot, probably a hybrid for most people. But a good par 5 does present that challenge.
“What people don’t realize on their second (laying up) is that the fairway slopes severely right to left. You’ve got to know to land it on the right side. If you’re even middle left, it might trickle into the water.
“You’ve got to pick your spots on every shot on 18 starting right from the tee shot. It’s a hole that always has you thinking.”
Penfield favors an iron shot on the second.
“The best way to do in most cases is to drive it short of the channel, then take a 7-iron or so layup and try to be between 80 or 90 yards in. Then you’ve got a full sand wedge to an uphill green.”
The mistake many make on their third is to under-club and bring the water into play, or they try to get too precise to a front-pin on the triple-tiered green.
What few realize, Penfield says, is that the hole offers a significant bailout area long and left. He factors it on the occasions he does try to go for eagle.
“If I go for it, I set up left and try to hit a cut. That way, if I don’t hit the cut I’m still OK,” he says. “But I’ve made it a couple times.”
Those who’ve reached in two, however, are far outnumbered by those who’ve found a watery grave for a potential birdie or par.
That sinking feeling is something nearly everyone who plays the hole has experienced, Penfield says, and it seems to only make them more determined the next time.
“We give people a golf course that makes them think a little bit,” he says. ““Our men’s and ladies’ clubs have played that hole for years and it still keeps them guessing. But that’s what a good golf hole should do.”
What’s been your experience at No. 18? Strategies? Successes? Failures you learned from? Please share your stories with us.
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.
A routine round of golf for Kerry Everett in his Wednesday men’s league at Temecula Creek Inn in April turned into something rare and special when his second shot on a par-5 found the bottom of the cup for a double eagle.
Everett’s rare feat occurred on the dogleg right 519-yard par-5 7th on the Oak nine. After a solid drive, Everett’s rescue from 220 yards found the hole, much to his surprise and his group. Shielded from a view of the green by trees, no one saw the ball go in, Everett said.
“I knew I hit good and I knew it was pretty close to the flag, but none us saw it on the green,” he said. “When I got up there, I looked behind the green and in the bunker and didn’t find anything. Then I checked the hole, and there it was.”
The shot was the highlight of round where Everett, a 4 handicap, shot 68.
“It was a really good day,” he said.
A double eagle, also known an albatross, is considered the rarest shot in golf because it takes toward good swings as opposed to just one for a hole-in-one. Golf Digest pegs the odds of a hole-in-one for an amateur at 12,500 to 1. It hasn’t established the odds for a double eagle with such mathematical certainly. Or at least a Google search on the topic was inconclusive.
Whatever the math, Everett takes it to another level because this was his second double eagle. He scored one in Laughlin, Nev., 10 years ago, he says, when he wasn’t taking the game as seriously as he has the past seven.
Shortly after scoring his second double eagle, Everett says the irony quickly occurred to him of what he’d accomplished without ever having a hole-in-one.
“I’ve come close,” he says of getting an ace. “Hopefully in my lifetime I will, maybe even more than once.”
Everett lives in Temecula and has been playing in his men’s league for a year. He regards Temecula Creek Inn as his home course and says he appreciates the challenge of the layout and the quality of the course conditions.
“With all the trees they have, it’s not an easy course,” he says, “but it’s a very well-kept course. The greens are always nice, and a little quick, but they take great care of it year round. It’s always in good condition, which I like.”