Designed by Arnold Palmer, the 18-hole championship course was groomed to the height of perfection when we played. The only improvement I could suggest would be better-kept tee boxes; the grass seemed a little thin. The course is set in a natural canyon, so some of the layouts can be a challenge. Nearly the entire course is lined by high hills lush with brush or by a gorge. Either way, there’s no hope for stray balls.
The course overlooks the Batiquitos Lagoon, which feeds its many water hazards. Both Golf and Golf Digest have named Aviara one of the best golf resorts in the United States. Wildflowers were in full bloom when we played. The challenging layout winds through rolling valleys, offering views of the Pacific Ocean. Palmer took advantage of the natural landscape to create a course unique from other great California courses like Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach that highlight ocean vistas. Reportedly, designers took a full decade to work out a layout that would complement the natural topography and preserve the environmentally important wetlands.
The Palmer course is a 7,007-yard par 72 from the tips and has been open since 1991. Greens fees range from $175 to $195 for 18 holes. Twilight rates are offered.
Holes 1 and 2
The first two holes on the course are back-to-back par 4s offering golfers an introduction to Aviara. They’re not too difficult, but bunkers seem to be perfectly placed for landing. Of course, straying off line can be hazardous.
This par 3 over water will test your skill. Water on the right side of the green and two bunkers in the back catch long shots. It’s a make-or-break shot for the green.
A par 5, this hole is 543 yards from the “Palmer Tees” with waste bunkers running up the right side of the fairway to an elevated green. The entire hole is an uphill battle to the green and is said to bring many a golfer to his knees. The back of the green, framed by landscaping and wildflowers, is the reward for a hard-fought battle.
A 195-yard par 3 to an uphill green that requires a blind tee shot. The green is some 60 feet above the tee box.
At par 3, it’s not a spectacular challenge, but it is an enjoyable — and beautiful — hole. A waterfall runs along almost the entire right side of the hole beginning at the tee box and ending in a pond (of course) in front of the green. Flowers abound, disguising bunkers that make it essential your play is accurate.
Wildflowers blooming on both sides of the fairway make this par-3 hole a memorable experience. From the elevated tee, it’s 201 yards to the green with water in front.
At 443 yards, this par 4 was voted most difficult finishing hole in San Diego County by PGA professionals in 1991. You’ll face two bunkers and a lagoon to the left of the fairway and the green. A perfect tee shot by my partner still left a long shot to the green guarded by bunkers in the front right and rear and by the lagoon on the right.
Style and elegance permeate this Southern California golf resort.
Four Seasons’ first ocean-view golf and tennis resort in the mainland United States, Four Seasons Resort Aviara is set on 200 landscaped acres of rolling valleys overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon (www.batiquitosfoundation.org) wildlife preserve. Its name, Aviara, is a creative term coined by blending aviary, meaning home for birds, and terra, meaning earth, to reflect its unique position adjacent to the sanctuary that is home to more than 130 species of shorebirds, waterfowl and a variety of natural vegetation.
The resort features 329 guestrooms and suites distributed among a series of low-rise Spanish colonial-style buildings. Rooms open to either a private balcony or, in the case of first-floor rooms, a landscaped terrace. Standard amenities include multichannel televisions wired for Web-TV and Sony Playstation access, high-speed Internet data ports, two-line telephones with computer/fax connection capability, and marble baths with glass-enclosed showers and deep soaking tubs.
Four Seasons Resort Aviara
7100 Four Seasons Point, Carlsbad, CA 92009
tel 760 603 6800, fax 760 603 6801
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