The Crown Jewel of San Diego Golf

By Tim Cotroneo

Renny Brown, the Director of Golf at Aviara Golf Course in Carlsbad, CA, offers a unique visual for what it’s like to golf 18 holes at the course he calls home. “It’s like playing in a botanical garden,” Brown said.

The Arnold Palmer-designed Aviara’s lush playground of tree-lined fairways, rolling hills, and Texas-sized greens. For a golf course just over three decades mature, one gets the impression that Aviara’s 7,000-yards of prime coastal real estate is coming into its own.

In fact, each March, the world gets a peek at all Aviara has to offer when the JTBC Classic arrives along with the LPGA Tour’s finest golfers. For a destination that is a magnet for lovers of the great outdoors, Aviara’s parade of flower-framed golf holes makes for good television and an even better golf tourism campaign.

They Call it Titanium Row

The city of Carlsbad, located 35 miles north of San Diego and 85 miles south of Los Angeles, has evolved into a golf mecca. Club makers Callaway, TaylorMade, and Cobra all call Carlsbad home. For those golfers making the pilgrimage in the hopes of finding a driver that offers more distance, they refer to this golf nerve center as Titanium Row.

Putter designer Scotty Cameron is so much a part of the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort fabric that two of his putters can be found in the Arnold Palmer Suite located on the resort’s first floor west wing. You’ll even find a TaylorMade Performance Center on site at Aviara’s renowned Kip Puterbaugh’s Aviara Golf Academy.

The crown jewel in Aviara’s DNA is the name behind their course. Aviara is the only 18-hole layout in the San Diego area to have Mr. Palmer’s signature on their design. During a 2016 celebration honoring the course’s 25th anniversary, a crossing titled The Palmer Bridge was christened at the back of the Par 3, 149-yard third hole.

5-Star Stay and Play

If you’re looking for a golf stay and play that is luxurious, scenic, and delivers top notch service, then the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort aims to please. The resort recently completed a $50 million renovation, and this fresh makeover is evident everywhere you look throughout this 200-acre property.

The resort’s new Ember & Rye restaurant, led by Chef Richard Blais, is housed in the renovated two-story golf clubhouse. The exterior terrace of the restaurant looks out on Aviara’s 18th green, and there’s a good chance a stunning sunset is on the dinner menu.

For those desiring a little more golf with their golf, the resort has a new TopGolf Suite. The suite is conveniently located next to the lobby and the Pacific Point Restaurant. This location means you can round out your TopGolf experience with food, drink, and music.

Risk Reward Repeat

The smart golfer will quickly realize that 18-holes at Aviara is a risk/reward feast. The fairways appear generous, but then there are the trees, hills, and contours to contend with. The large greens are guarded by plentiful bunkers.

Golfers with a flair for lag putting will do well on Aviara. For those unable to read the speed, contours, and did we say distance, then Aviara may take some getting used to Brown’s best putting advice is to stay below the hole.

What golfers come to appreciate is the water feature trifecta of creeks, ponds, and waterfalls. Three of Aviara’s four Par 3’s include carries over water. The Par 4, 443-yard 18th hole, a great finisher, has water hugging the right side for your final 100 yards. A waterfall to the right of the huge 18th green is another Aviara landscape gem.

Flower Power

Aviara’s long-time Superintendent Kevin Kienast tends to the resort and golf course’s massive acreage like a doting father. Considering Aviara’s delicate mix of immaculate Bermuda grass, towering trees, white sand bunkers, and rainbow of flowers, Kienast still manages to keep the course in year-round optimum shape and primed for a national television audience in March.

Kienast keeps a plant guide of no fewer than 50 flower species within arm’s reach. Regardless of the date on his calendar, Kienast’s team keeps these beauties looking Instagram ready. Mr. Palmer’s design vision saw flowers greeting golfers for decades down the road. Kienast keeps this flower legacy alive with his flower bible that reads like the Garden of Eden.

“To say that Aviara is home to an array of exotic flowers is an understatement. During your 18 holes of golf, you’ll witness just about every color imaginable. You’ll see Bird of Paradise, Lily of the Nile, Pink Escallonia, Star Jasmine, Bonugainvillea, Indian Laurel Fig, and Trailing Purple Lantana,” Kienast said. When asked if there are more, Kienast smiled and replied, “How much time do you have?”

Carlsbad is Calling

ns for visiting Carlsbad are endless: The perfect weather, getting fit for clubs, or playing a course you watched the pros play on television. The question is, “When was the last time you played a world-class course that feels like a botanical garden and was designed by Arnold Palmer?”


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