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Phil Mickelson helps Aviara Golf Club celebrate its 25th Anniversary

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson at the recent 25th anniversary celebration of Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.
Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson at the recent 25th anniversary celebration of Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

Guests at the 25th anniversary celebration of Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad last week received an unexpected gift of their own when five-time major champion Phil Mickelson showed up to teach a special golf clinic.

The native San Diegan offered an insightful lesson on the basics of chipping. He revealed his best tips, warning players, “Never chip with the ball in between your feet. It’s not a committed shot.”

He made the crowd laugh when he added, “I know many of you do that. I’ve seen it.”

Mickelson graciously answered questions, demonstrated the swing that has won him 42 events on the PGA Tour and, along with Aviara Golf Academy’s Kip Puterbaugh and former PGA player Dennis Paulsen, shared personal stories about the legendary Arnold Palmer.

Palmer designed the course, which hosts the annual LPGA Kia Classic Tournament and which was recently named one of the top resort golf courses in the country by Golf Digest and a 2016-2017 Premier Golf Resort by Golf magazine. Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, home to Aviara Golf Club, was awarded the distinction of number one golf resort in San Diego by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

To commemorate this special anniversary, the bridge on the third hole of the course was dedicated to Palmer and will now bear his name as well as a permanent plaque.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating a quarter century of exceptional golf and unforgettable memories made at Aviara Golf Club,” said Renny Brown, director of golf. “We are proud to honor Arnold Palmer on this anniversary as we have him to thank for this incredible course that has brought so many wonderful experiences to so many people over the last 25 years.”

During a brief ceremony, Brown read a declaration from Palmer himself: “To my friends at Aviara Golf Club, I am pleased to send my greetings to all at Aviara Golf Club as you celebrate your 25th anniversary.

“I was delighted when I was chosen to design and oversee the construction of Aviara and was pleased how well it turned out. It obviously had withstood the test of time, considering its choice as a tournament site for the LPGA Tour.

“How nice that my name will be forever posted on the bridge at the third hole. I certainly appreciate that gesture.

“Here’s to another great 25 years and many more.”

With its distinctive coastal layout, Aviara Golf is considered one of the most difficult courses in Southern California. A par 72 stretching 7,007 yards, the course is sculpted through rolling hillsides, with lakes and native wildflowers providing an often-needed calming backdrop.

Because it’s so challenging, when Palmer designed the course in 1991, he generously provided insider tips for playing each hole.

For example, Hole #8: “This medium length, downhill par 5 is very reachable in two shots, but water and bunkers at the green demand accuracy. The fairway short of the water has a right-to-left slope; so if you lay up, play to the right side of the fairway. Players should lay back enough to give themselves a full shot over the water to the green.”

All of Palmer’s original tips are available on www.aviara.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/golf.html.

The 40 golfers who played to celebrate Aviara’s anniversary made sure to read them before their shotgun start round of golf.

Guests also had an opportunity to experience the food and drinks of Argyle Steakhouse, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, as well. Located at the Aviara Golf Club overlooking the 18th green, Argyle is honoring this milestone with brunch, lunch and dinner specials throughout the month of August. It’s also introducing its exclusive new Steak Knife Concierge Program.

An expert concierge will guide diners through Argyle’s extensive knife selection, explaining the appropriate use of each one and helping them choose the best one for their specific entrée.

Apparently, looking sharp is a key tenet of Aviara – both in the restaurant and on the golf course.

For tee times, log on to www.golfaviara.com/teetimes. To make a reservation at Argyle Steakhouse, call 760-603-6908.

Photo by Lois Alter Mark