Top Five: Southern California

Torrey Pines, overhanging the Pacific Ocean



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: 858-552-1662; 877-581-7171 (web site:

GREEN FEES: South Course for City of San Diego resident $61; non-resident, $183 for non-resident, Monday-Thursday; $76, for resident and $229 for non-resident, Friday-Sunday. Twilight, $46 resident, $137 non-resident. North Course: Resident $40, non-resident $100, Monday-Thursday; Resident $50, non-resident $125 Friday-Sunday. Twilight, residents $24, non-residents $60 Monday-Thursday; residents $30, non-residents $75 Friday-Sunday.

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.


LOCATION: Carlsbad, CA

DIRECTIONS 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.

PHONE: 760-603-6900 (web site:

GREEN FEES: $215 (Monday-Thursday); $235 (Friday-Sunday) per round Monday through Thursday and $235 per round Friday through Sunday.

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.



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 (web site:

GREEN FEES: Week days: $50 – $90; Week-ends: $75 – $120

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.



DIRECTIONS FROM SAN DIEGO AIRPORT: Located 37 miles from the airport, take I-8 East to CA-67 North. Turn left on Archie Moore Rd. and first left into golf course.

PHONE: 760-788-3555 (web site:

GREEN FEES: Weekdays: $25- $65; Weekends: $35 – $75

OPENED: 1991 (Architects: Brian Curley, Lee E. Schmitt)

LAYOUT: Par 70, 5,784 yards (three tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Mt. Woodson Golf Club is one of San Diego County’s most popular courses for a number of reasons, one being the spectacular setting. Nestled in the Ramona Valley, the course is sprawls across a dramatic landscape of towering oak trees, enormous granite boulders, and sparkling blue lakes.

Nearly every hole on the golf course provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. It is also known for being one of the most challenging and well maintained layouts in the area. The tight fairways and small greens demand accuracy. There are also plenty of interesting elevation changes throughout.

The golf course offers true target-style golf that will test the shot-making abilities of even the most experienced players. One of the most unique features of the course is the 450-foot wooden bridge that winds through the treetops.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 17, par-4, 335 yards. The hole most golfers will talk about it is the 17th, down hill from a tee that’s one of the highest points in San Diego County. This short dogleg left is drivable if you’re lucky, depending on what kind of bounce you get in front of the green or in between the ancient boulders that guard the entrance.



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; (web site:

GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday; $110; Friday-Sunday, $160. Twilight Monday-Thursday, $75; Friday-Sunday, $100; Monday-Thursday super-twilight, $50; Friday-Sunday, $75; Junior and Senior rates offered.

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.

– Jim Street