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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an all-too-brief list of some of the most camera-phone worthy holes in San Diego.
1. 3 (South Course) at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)
The view from Hole 3 at Torrey Pines is worth the greens fee alone.
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.
You’ll feel like Paul Bunyan when teeing off from Journey at Pechanga’s #6.
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 a 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.
If this hole doesn’t make you want to play golf, I don’t know what would.
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.
Enjoy unobstructed views of the bay from #3. Photo courtesy of www.greenskeeper.com
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.
The par-4 7th at Encinitas Ranch isn’t so much about what’s in front of you as what’s behind. Photo courtesy of jcgolf.com
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.
Tee off where the pro’s play with a round of 18 at Aviara Golf Club
Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, the annual host of the LPGA’s KIA Classic, is routinely rated one of California’s top resort courses and is the only Arnold Palmer design in San Diego. Impeccable landscaping and being situated next to the tranquil Batiquitos Lagoon define the property, which also features dramatic elevation changes on the front nine.
Each hole is truly a unique experience at Aviara.
The property’s amenities include: a two-story, 32,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial clubhouse and the adjoining Argyle Steakhouse with indoor and outdoor balcony seating; showers, locker rooms; an upscale golf shop, driving range and an oversized practice putting green.
For those unfamiliar with Aviara Golf Club, we provide the following five highlights of the course and overall playing experience.
1. Immaculate landscape
On the first tee, the starter welcomes you to an 18-hole botanical garden, and that’s exactly what Aviara Golf Club is. An amazing array of plants and flowers accent every hole. The course is truly a visual treat. There’s always something in bloom at Aviara.
2. Oversized greens
Aviara is known for having greens the size of helipads. Get ready to stroke some of the longest putts you’ve ever hit if you can’t knock it close.
The greens are the course’s defining characteristic, which is funny considering they were originally a construction mistake. The construction crew doubled the size of the greens on the front nine. Rather than tear up the greens, course officials chose to double the size of the greens on the back to match.
The result is what you might term a happy accident, as players now look forward to the sizable undulating greens at Aviara Golf Club.
3. Outstanding par 3s
The strength of the course is its par 3s, which many consider as a group to be the best in San Diego. Three of the four feature carries over water and are, again, impeccably landscaped. No. 3, a short par 3 with ponds in front and right, is considered the course’s signature hole. No. 6, the only one without water, is the toughest of the bunch. It’s a long uphill, a nearly 200-yard carry, to a blind green. An ocean crosswind can complicate matters even more here. The two par 3s on the back are all carry over water, with No. 14 being from an elevated tee box. You will want an iron and a camera phone on the par 3s because they are truly beautiful golf holes.
4. Sweet Treats
Aviara loves to tempt your sweet tooth. There are fresh-baked cookies available next to the putting green and a special treat waiting for you on the course. The course marshal usually greets you on the 8th green with a bucket of Tootsie Pops. Hopefully you’re walking off the green with birdie, but if not, you’ve at least go a consolation prize.
5. 18, a beauty and a beast
Besides having the best par 3s, Aviara may also boast the toughest closing hole in the county. This dogleg right offers a beautiful view of the Batiquitos Lagoon from the tee. Savor the view because you might not like what happens next. There’s water right, OB left and likely an ocean breeze in your face. Ideally, you want to place you tee shot just inside the fairway bunker on the left and we recommend clubbing down to a 3-wood if necessary to do it.
You just want to be in the fairway here and not the water. Then you’ve got a long, narrow approach into a green where water is still in play on the left, cascading down a gorgeous waterfall. Par is a great score here, but here’s guessing it’ll take you a few rounds to card one. After playing this course nearly a dozen times, I’m still waiting.
See how the perfect club is made and take one home with you after a custom fitting during a tour of San Diego’s three leading golf manufacturers
As the home of the headquarters of TaylorMade Golf, Callaway and Cobra, Carlsbad, in San Diego’s North County Coastal region, is akin to the Silicon Valley of the golf equipment industry.
The game-changing birth of the metal wood occurred in Carlsbad and those companies been leading the technology boom that has revolutionized the game ever since.
Carlsbad presents a rare opportunity to visit all three of these influential brands at once. They are all headquartered within a few miles of each other.
TaylorMade, however, is the only one still offering regularly scheduled public tours. They take place every Thursday at 10:00 AM. Cobra books private tours by appointment, while Callaway only books club fittings.
The following is a look at highlights and tips for taking the TaylorMade Tour, followed by information for booking appointments at Callaway and Cobra.
Please Note: TaylorMade is suspending tours for the rest of 2017 and is unsure as to when tours will restart.
Learn the everything from the manufacturers to the pros on a tour of the TaylorMade Headquarters
As most any golfer knows, TaylorMade is the world’s leading equipment manufacturer. Their campus encompasses two buildings – only one of which you see on the tour – and the driving range, the hallowed Kingdom, a domain for the pros and other elite players.
The TaylorMade tour offers some insight into the company’s latest club technology – the new R15 driver is under glass in the lobby with the club head dissected– as well a peek at the manufacturing process and an overview of golf’s technology revolution.
A rotating team of TaylorMade volunteers hosts the roughly 45-minute tour every Thursday, so your experience may differ depending on their experience. For instance, our host was an engineer named Matt, so we got a more technology-based tour.
Regardless of the host, be prepared to provide your ID and sign an electronic confidentiality agreement while you’re waiting. Note: No photos or phones on the tour.
While you’re waiting for the tour to begin, you can peruse the latest TaylorMade equipment, which is on display in the lobby along with the staff bags as such TaylorMade Tour players as Justin Rose, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia.
The tour begins with a bit of history about not only TaylorMade but its parent company, Adidas, a high-performance sports apparel manufacturer. For golf, the most pertinent history is the story of Gary Adams bringing TaylorMade to Carlsbad to pursue his dream of launching a medal wood to supplant the wooden clubs of the past.
That history is displayed under glass in the next story of the tour – the Wall of History. There, 12 clubs are exhibited that capture the evolution of the metal era. There’s everything from TaylorMade’s first driver, the head of which is about the size of a modern-day rescue club, to the latest, the state-of-the-art R15.
In between, you witness club head sizes growing, metal materials changing and then club adjustability coming into the picture. Even for those who know their club history, there’s likely something to learn and appreciate here.
The next stop is the manufacturing floor, where 10,000 clubs are assembled each day. You see everything in production from putters to drivers and learn what a golf assembly line looks like. The manufacturing floor shares space with the massive warehouse where thousands of equipment orders are being processed and shipped daily.
The tour concludes with a look at one of the most exclusive parts of TaylorMade – The Kingdom. Golfers are usually only granted access here with permission of a club pro and to be professionally fitted.
Otherwise, this is where TaylorMade’s professionals come to get their equipment updated in a state-of-the-art environment and to practice on the driving range.
The Kingdom has a country-club feel all its own, complete with a posh lounge just inside the entrance. Worth perusing: the guestbook at the front desk. Inside, you’ll find photographs and signatures from touring pros and celebrities who’ve visited The Kingdom. It’s a veritable Who’s Who.
Who was Adidas’ first sponsored athlete (hint: think track)? Where does TaylorMade gets its name from? Why did Gary Adams chose to relocate his company to San Diego? What does the R stand for on TaylorMade’s drivers?
If some of those questions pique your interest, the TaylorMade tour has answers for you.
If your visit coincides with one of the professional tour events in San Diego, you might end up keeping company with a tour pro. To register for the Thursday tour at TaylorMade, call 760.918.6000.
Get everything you need to a day out on the course during a visit to Cobra Golf’s headquarters
Cobra Puma, the company represented by the stylish Rickie Fowler, has designated times of the month when tours are available, but they are by appointment only.
Cobra has more modest facilities than TaylorMade, but there are still things to be seen, including the hitting bay and swing simulator the pros use at Cobra. There’s also a warehouse and merchandise area where the colorful array of the Cobra Puma product line is displayed.
The tour can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on what guests want to see. Working in a club fitting can add another hour or two.
To schedule a tour, a fitting, or both, call 760.710.3502.
Getting Fitted At Callaway
Make you club perfect for you during a custom fitting at Callaway’s Headquarters
Callaway Golf no longer offers public tours, but the headquarters does accommodate club fittings.
Tiger says “See You At Torrey!” Photo courtesy of Stan Badz/PGA TOUR.
The PGA Tour’s annual spotlight on San Diego will shine again on February 5-8, 2015, at the Farmers Insurance Open at scenic Torrey Pines.
Held in San Diego and at Torrey since 1952, the PGA’s annual stop is part of the Tour’s West Coast swing. The tournament falls between the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale and the AT &T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach.
Highlights of the Torrey Tourney
Warm weather, a world-class course and the regular presence of such Tour stars as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Woods is a seven-time winner of the event besides being the winner of the iconic 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Whether it’s to golf star gaze or spy a glimpse of a migrating whale, there are many great reasons to “See You at Torrey,” as the ad slogan says.
The tournament utilizes all of Torrey’s 36 holes. Play the first two days is held on both the North and South courses and moves exclusively to the South for the weekend.
Last year’s champion, Scott Stallings, emerged from a crowded field of Sunday challengers to capture the crown by one shot. Defending champion Woods missed the secondary cut, the precursor of a year he’d miss much of recovering from back surgery. Local favorite Mickelson ended up withdrawing for the weekend from the 2014 tournament with back pain.
Both are scheduled to return healthy for the 2015 event.
Farmers Insurance Open Schedule & Entertainment
Tournament week begins with practice rounds starting February 2 that are free and open to the public.
Wednesday is Preview Day for the tournament. The Zurich pro-am will be taking place.
The tournament begins on Thursday and will introduce two new changes of note for fans:
For security reasons, the main entrance has been moved from near the practice putting greens to near the Glider Port.
A new post-round concert series begins.
The post-round concerts will take place inside The Fringe presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal and will be located behind the 15th green of the South Course.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, entertainment will begin after play has finished on No. 15 (3:00 to 3:30 PM without delays) and continue until sundown (5:15 to 5:30 PM)
The University Day Challenge and University Day
The University Day Challenge and University Day will also return on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Tour players with the support their alma mater’s mascots by competing in a glass-breaking competition on the North Course. The winner will have $10,000 donated to their alma mater’s golf team.
Competitors and patrons are encouraged to sport the colors of their college on Saturday.
Shortly after the conclusion of the tournament, a long-awaited renovation of the North Course will begin. The course will be closed during its construction phase.
Pros Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman are also again scheduled to conduct a free youth that is part of the tournament’s charitable mission.
Since its inception, The Century Club of San Diego has generated more than $28 million for the San Diego community, with $2.8 million raised in 2014 alone.
As the host organization of the Farmers Insurance Open, The Century Club of San Diego is able to provide partnership fundraising programs and experiences for charities, local military families, community organizations and schools.