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A SAN DIEGO GOLF COURSE REVIEW

Park Hyatt Resort Aviara Golf Course

Click to book tee times, corporate golf events or read more information about Aviara Golf Club or any of "The 20 Best Golf Courses" in San Diego."

Golfing Back To Nature by Martin Olivera

Sometime during your round of golf at the Aviara Golf Club you will feel like you are playing through a botanical garden. The abundance, variety and beauty of the local vegetation is, in my honest opinion, unparalleled in San Diego county. This is the only golf course in San Diego designed by Arnold Palmer. This 18-hole championship, 7,007-yard, par 72 layout with some ocean views was built around the natural topography of three valleys and a lagoon. It's adjacent to the Batiquitos Lagoon, in coastal Carlsbad, which is home to more than 130 species of shorebirds and waterfowl. Due to the ecological sensitivity of the lagoon, and with sensitive San Diego environmental issues on the line, this San Diego golf course took almost a decade to complete, opening to play in 1991. The developers took special care in making sure the wetlands were preserved while building the course. This is a fabulous golf course built in harmony with nature.

The design of the track speaks for itself. The water hazards look like extensions of the neighboring lagoon. As you get to the tee of the 149-yard par-3 third hole you have your first encounter of what constitutes superb landscaping. A waterfall surrounded with streams and native wildflowers plays havoc with your game mindset. At one instance you are trying to decide which club you will use to carry the large pond between you and the green, and next thing you know you find yourself admiring the picture and forgetting about the shot. If golf is "one shot at a time," Aviara is "one picture at a time."

The front nine holes of this San Diego golf course are mostly tight, meandering through canyons with luxurious Spanish colonial homes overlooking the Bermuda grass fairways from high above. The wind is swirly and deceiving. Clubbing, on a windy day, could be nightmarish. Eucalyptus-lined fairways, Santa Rita flowers and lavender "Fray Madera" bushes guide your way through the first nine holes. The layout follows the slope of the terrain, making sure the course is part of the environment, not in spite of it.

The back nine is more open, more exposed to the wind, which is more consistent in direction. The sea breeze is more conspicuous, particularly if you are playing in the afternoon. You can smell the pacific ocean among the aromas emanating from the nearby flowers. Eucalyptus are now joined by Torrey and other varieties of pines. The entire golf course is challenging in several ways. If it's a short par-4, you can bet your new Titleist you'll find compromised stance situations from the undulating fairway, and a well-protected green with bunkers or water nearby. Longer par-4 and par-5 holes demand accuracy off the tee to be able to have a shot at the large Bent-grass greens. The 10th hole, a "short" par-5 (515 yards from the back tees), is a typical example of a risk-reward situation. It's a sharp dog-leg left with water on the left side. An accurate, well placed tee shot will leave you with, maybe, an iron shot to the green. Cut the leg too much and you are wet, and a too conservative tee shot might drift you too far right into the trees. "A thinking man's par-5" says the yardage book. Par-3's are either a dangerous carry over trouble (3rd and 11th), or a dramatic change in elevation with wind in the equation (6th), or all of the above (the breathtaking 14th). You look at the fancy ParView GPS system in your golf cart and have to take the yardage information with a grain of salt. Those other variables, wind and elevation change, are not there. On the positive side, in addition to getting the "raw" yardages you can also order food and keep your score. Fancy. One old golf adage holds very true here, the old mental approach of "playing the hole from green to tee," which is a credit to the architect. Even with eight holes having water coming into play, this course is not a "monster," it's fun and it's beautiful, but it's also demanding and will test all aspects of your game to the very end... which is a devilish, longish (443 yards) par-4, into the sea breeze with water protecting the entire right side. You overswing this one off the tee or on the second shot, and you may put a serious dent on your score.

If before your round you were impressed with the attentive up-scale service provide by everyone at this San Diego Golf Resort you'll still be enjoying the same first-class "Aviara Golf Club treatment and comfort after you've finished playing this beautiful San Diego golf course. The clubhouse features elegant men's and women's locker rooms, a well appointed and comfortable lounge and the Argyle restaurant with its wrap around patio-balcony for dining overlooking the 18th green and fairway and the Batiquitos Lagoon. In fact, if you didn't have enough decision-making situations during the golf, here's another one: Which restaurant in the resort should we go to? Vivace and its Italian cuisine, with dazzling ocean views? California Bistro? Or just relax and stay at the Argyle and enjoy all the amenities of a fabulously upscale clubhouse?

Golf is just one of the many experiences offered by the Park Hyatt Resort Aviara (Formerly the Four Seasons Resort Aviara). Opened in 1997, this San Diego Golf Resort & Spa is one of the best in the country. Its 329 luxurious rooms built on 200 landscaped acres include marble bathroom features and all the amenities of modern life, like high-speed Internet and fax machines in every room. Ample meeting and banquet facilities can accommodate almost any social or business function. They include state-of-the-art audio-visual technology for all types of presentations. The resort has six lighted tennis courts (two clay and four hard surface), two outdoor family swimming pools with underwater lighting, whirlpools, men's and women's spas, a fully equipped exercise room with trainers, a luxurious spa and fitness center, and even kids programs (age 4 to 12) which include a variety of games, arts and crafts under professional supervision.

Several San Diego Golf Packages are available at this AAA Five Diamond resort. It may be a two or three day golf school at the renowned Kip Puterbaugh's Aviara Golf Academy, or some time of tranquility with a pampering Aviara Relaxation Spa Package. Or even one of their many a Romance Packages. Aviara has all that a world-class resort should offer. In June and July, the resort offers a jazz concert series which may be attended by those opting for the Jazz Package on Friday nights. Tickets to the concert can also be purchased for $50 each and are available to other resort guests and the general public.

Aviara has won many awards and accolades. The Gold Medal Award by Golf Magazine in 2004, Top Spas in North America Award by Conde Nast Traveler, and the AAA Four-Diamond Award for the Vivace Restaurant, among many others. But the best award, the one that really counts, will be the one coming from you, after you spend a few wonderful days at this San Diego Golf Resort - Aviara - in harmony with nature.

Click to book tee times, corporate golf events or read more information about Aviara Golf Club or any of "The 20 Best Golf Courses" in San Diego."

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