PGA Championship Week: Enjoy an Arnold Palmer at Aviara Golf Club

As we prepare for Crave’s coverage of Mercedes-Benz and this week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol, look for coverage of gear and golfer-friendly travel spots.

It’s a compliment for any traveler to any golf course to say a track looks more like a botanical gardens than 18 holes of frustration. You can lay such an accolade on Aviara Golf Club as the Arnold Palmer-designed destination offers up frequent gorgeous vistas to restore the soul — no matter how hard the course plays.

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The host course for the LPGA’s Kia Classic, Aviara adjoins the Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Preserve in Carlsbad, Calif. Just north of San Diego, Carlsbad is one of America’s golf meccas with top shelf courses, media agencies and several big time manufacturers (including TaylorMade, Callaway, Cobra and Titleist). So, Avira is a natural enough place for Hall of Famer Palmer to plant his only flag on California’s oceanside.

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The course is the main sports attraction of the adjoining elite Park Hyatt Aviara Resort – a full-service, luxury venue nestled in between the course and the sea. Players aren’t required to stay with at the resort to gain access to golf, but a shuttle runs continuously between the course and the hotel to allow players access to its bars and restaurants.

As for the course, it’s a challenging — but not to a point that would disqualify it from resort classification. As a rule, resort courses should play a little easier than private clubs or even good quality municipal courses. The report player is on hand to recreate, so he or she wants a pretty round of golf that’s not physically exhausting or ego punishing. 

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To that end, Palmer avoided blind tee shots and often bowled the fairways so errant shots might dribble back into play if they’re not too far gone. Trees and water are frequent, in keeping with Aviara’s naturally lush setting, so the mid-handicapper should pack a few extra pellets.

While not cheap at a weekend rate of $250, this professional level course is a major golf destination for the region. Fortunately, Arnie set it up so you can snag a few pars and head home happy.