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|Beautiful but deadly: Four Seasons Aviara Golf Club is no walk in the park, especially on the closing hole. (Courtesy Four Seasons Aviara Golf Club)|
Non-golfers may rag on it from time to time, but golf is not a sport to be taken lightly. After all, what do you think is harder - finding a way to get a tiny ball into a hole more than 400 yards away using nothing but a bent stick, or falling on top of people between huffs at an oxygen tank?
One of the biggest challenges in golf is hitting the elusive birdie. For the average duffer, going 1-under even once can be the highlight of an entire golf trip. The rush is powerful enough to keep you coming back for more punishment.
The taste is sweeter still on a hole that made your heart sink when you stepped up to the tee. San Diego's got plenty of ball-busting holes, and it's best to know what's in store if you have any chance of making a tweeter.
Here's a quick guide to the toughest holes to birdie in the San Diego area.
Barona Creek Golf Club, No. 13: This 534-yard par 5 weaves through valley and brush, sloping to the right in a dramatic dogleg. The drive is critical, as short balls will likely wind up in the hazard running along the right side of the fairway.
"This is the kind of hole you wish you had two chances at, one to learn how to play it, one to take your best shot at it," Chris Baldwin wrote in a GolfCalifornia.com review. "There is an uncertainty about the best way to go for the green here, a real thinker's delight."
La Costa Resort & Spa, North Course, No. 14: Arguably the most beautiful hole on the course, this 447-yard par 4 is also the most dangerous. A creek cuts the fairway twice, the second time about 125 yards in front of the green. Ego-shattering though it may be, you'd be wise to lay up twice in your approach to the green, which is narrowed by as many as six gargantuan bunkers.
Four Seasons Aviara Golf Club, No. 18: A huge lake on the right and bunkers on the left make it extremely difficult to touch down on the fairway on this par 4. Should you be so lucky to do so, you're still not out of the woods: The path to the green is narrow, with water on the right and large bunkers on the left.
Torrey Pines Golf Course, No. 4: This 453-yard par 4 carries a No. 1 handicap rating. It is brutal. The ocean runs along the left side, so any hooked shots are likely to wind up in the drink. The green is blocked by trees on the left, guarded by bunkers and thick shrubs on the right. As if that weren't bad enough, the green is so small there's almost no room for error.
"Fairway bunkers guard the landing area, and the extremely large green is also well-guarded by sand traps," reviewer Ben Malone wrote of the closer at the former Meadows Del Mar Golf Course. "Just getting on this green isn't enough. You must put your approach shot close in order to feel confident about a two-putt."
December 1, 2006
Here are the best 36-hole facilities open to the public. All of them share a clubhouse and offer two exceptional 18-hole golf courses. Most of the clubs are part of a resort, and in some cases you even stay on site. No matter which you visit, you can't go wrong playing 36 holes at any of them.
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