Road Holes — 29 December 2012 by Jim Street
Top Five: Southern California

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.

Golferswest.com continues its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. Today, the 25-part series focuses on: Southern California.

NO. 1 COURSE: TORREY PINES

LOCATION: La Jolla

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN DIEGO: Take I-5 north to Genesee Ave. and turn left, heading W. Genesee Ave. will curve to the right and become North Torrey Pines Rd. Turn right at the large, green ‘Golf Course’ sign on the right just after Science Park Way. Follow the curve under North Torrey Pines Rd. At the stop sign, turn right into the parking area. From North County, take I-5 south, exit Carmel Valley Rd. and turn right, heading west. Turn left on Camino Del Mar which then becomes North Torrey Pines Rd. Continue on North Torrey Pines Rd. Continue past Torrey Pines State Beach, Torrey Pines State Preserve and the Torrey Pines Golf Course Driving Range. At the Torrey Pines Golf Course parking lot, turn right.

PHONE(S): 858-552-1662; 877-581-7171

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: torreypinesgolfcourse.com

OPENED: 1957 (Architect William P. Bell; South course remodeled in 2001 by Rees Jones)

LAYOUT: South course, par 72, 7,0521 yards (five tee positions); North course, par 72, 6,601 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Torrey Pines has long been recognized as one of the nation’s premier municipal golf facilities. Often referred to as a ‘golfer’s paradise’, the Championship North and South courses provide views of the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Fog, rain and wind often sweep the seaside courses, testing even the most seasoned players skill. The course takes its name from the indigenous Torrey Pine, native to the area and to Santa Rosa Island. The tree is distinguished by having clusters of five pine needles.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 6, par-3, 206 yards. The downhill hole on the north course looks serenely photogenic with its ocean backdrop, but at 206 yards from the tips and surrounded by a canyon left and bunkers, it requires complete focus — and not from a camera lens. It probably will be one of the most memorable holes you will play.

NO. 2: PELICAN HILL

LOCATION: Newport Beach

Pelican Hill

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN DIEGO AIRPORT: Follow Harbor Drive out of the airport to I-5 north for approximately 65 miles. Merge onto CA-73 and go north to Long Beach (toll road).Take Newport Coast Drive exit. Turn left and go right on Pelican Hill Road South. From John Wayne Airport: Take a right out of the airport onto MacArthur Boulevard for approximately 2 miles. Merge onto CA-73 south (toll road) toward San Diego. Take the Newport Coast Drive exit and follow to Pelican Hill Road South.

PHONE: 949 467-6800

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: pelicanhill.com

OPENED: 1991 (North Course); 1993 (South Course). (Architect: Tom Fazio)

LOWDOWN: The fundamentals of golf may not vary, but the way you experience the game certainly can. Tom Fazio designed 54 holes of golf, including Pelican Hill’s 36 championship holes on the Ocean North and Ocean South courses and 18 holes at nearby Oak Creek Golf Club, to be unlike any that you’ve ever played before.

To further enhance your game, add Pelican Hill’s unmatched service and amenities; professional forecaddies, luxurious locker rooms, practice facility, shoe attendants, club cleaning service, golf shop and golf academy.

SIGNATURE HOLES: North course: No. 13, 131-yard par 3. This game of a hole offers some spectacular ocean views and features dual greens. South course: No. 17, 558 yard, par 5. A lone Cypress tree is the focal point of this challenging hole.

NO. 3 COURSE: ANGELES NATIONAL

LOCATION: Sunland

DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES: Take 110 Freeway North to the I-5 Sacramento to the 2 Freeway North to the 210 Freeway West, exit at Sunland Blvd. Go straight through the traffic light onto Fenwick. Turn left on Foothill Blvd. From West Los Angeles: Take I-10 Freeway East to the 405 Freeway North to the 118 Freeway East to the 210 Freeway East, exit at Wheatland Ave. Turn left and proceed to Foothill Blvd. Turn right. From the San Gabriel Valley: Take 210 Freeway West, exit at Sunland Blvd. Go straight through the traffic light onto Fenwick. Turn left on Foothill Blvd.

PHONE: 818-951-8771

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: angelesnational.com

OPENED: 2004 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,141 yards (four tee locations)

LOWDOWN: Nestled at the base of the Angeles National Forest and the only Nicklaus Design golf course in Los Angeles County, Angeles National Golf Club sets the standard of excellence and beauty for all golf courses in Southern California.

Angeles National features a championship golf course with magnificent views, generous fairways and immaculate emerald greens. The course presents a challenge for golfers of all skill levels with four sets of tees accommodating both the professional and beginner golfer.

The course was ranked by Travel & Leisure Golf magazine as one of the Top 30 Best New Courses Worldwide and One of the Top Ten Best New Public/Resort courses in the U.S.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 6, par-4, 459 yards. Although it is difficult to tell from the tee, this is the widest fairway on the golf course – and the most difficult. Once the golfer reaches the fairway they will find what appears to be a large green with an arroya cutting across the front of the green and another arroya to the right of it. But there is trouble ahead if not careful and precise with your second shot.

Clubhouse at Strawberry Farms

NO. 4 COURSE: STRAWBERRY FARMS

LOCATION: Irvine

DIRECTIONS FROM JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT: Take I-405 South. Take Exit 4 to University Dr. toward Jeffrey Rd. Turn right on University Dr. Turn left on Ridgeline Dr. to San Simeon. Go left to Mirador. Destination is on the left.

PHONE: 949-551-1811

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: strawberryfarmsgolf.com

OPENED: 1997 (Architect: Jim Lipe)

LAYOUT: Par-71, 6,700 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The course is set amid canyons and wetlands, offering picturesque vistas across the 35-acre reservoir, large rolling greens surrounded by wildlife and natural vegetation and scenic hills studded with granite boulders and natural waterfalls.

Developed by Doug DeCinces, former California Angel third baseman, Strawberry Farms Golf Club is sure to provide golfers with the finest golf experience in Orange County.

SIGNATURE HOLES: No. 10, par-4, 369 yards. As long as you stay right, this is a relatively simple hole. But hit anything left and you are playing another ball as a reservoir runs from tee to green and there are six bunkers hugging the left side as well. No. 12, par-5, 630 yards. This is the longest hole in Orange County and plays to a par 6 for the women. The key to playing this hole is keeping the ball straight as the fairway is long and narrow. The green is 31 feet, front to back.

NO. 5 COURSE: AVIARA

LOCATION: Carlsbad

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN DIEGO AIRPORT: Take I-5 North to Exit 45 for Poinsettia Lane toward Aviara Parkway. Turn right on Poinsettia Lane and second right into the resort.

Above Aviara

PHONE: 760-603-6900

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: golfaviara.com

OPENED: 1991 (Architect: Arnold Palmer)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,007 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Golf Digest’s No. 1 Golf Resort in San Diego (No. 32 in Top 75 Golf Resorts in America), The Aviara Golf Club offers one of the finest golf experiences available in southern California. The course is sculpted around the natural topography with water hazards positioned as visual extensions of the nearby lagoon.

Aviara’s memorable 18-hole coastal layout is the only course in San Diego designed by Arnold Palmer. Overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon, these panoramic vistas enticed Palmer to take on this project. Inspired by its stunning terrain, Palmer created a series of unforgettable shot-making challenges. Framed by abundant native wildflowers, the challenging layout winds through rolling valleys of Carlsbad and La Costa, and offers sneak peeks of the Pacific Ocean.

The Aviara Golf Club’s tees, fairways, and greens are manicured to meet the most demanding standards and many acclaim that a round of golf at Aviara “is like playing golf in a botanical garden.”

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 3, par-3, 147 yards. The distance sounds easy enough, but most of the yardage is consumed by water that stretches from tee to practically the green. Don’t be short.

– Jim Street

TOMORROW: Colorado/Denver area  

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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