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In past weeks, we have looked at the 3 and 4 pars – and now for those most likely to produce a birdie, the par 5s. Along the coast, we have classic risk reward holes to outright monsters. The architects thought of these as 3-shot holes, but modern technology and a younger body may just let you go at them in two. Most of us mere mortals will enjoy them the way they were laid out.


The Ranch Course is not known for its 3-shot holes but nevertheless it has some memorable ones. The 6th hole plays 482 yards and would seem like a reasonable go in two. The only problem is the huge barranca that crosses the fairway at about 250 yards. Most players will be limited by this off the tee, and as a result will have a long second to go for it in two. The green is narrow was designed to receive a short pitch. Numbers 4, 10 and 13 are pretty straightforward, with the former being the most likely to reach in two. Try not to be distracted by the families of deer usually grazing on these scenic holes.

La Purisima

Right out of the box, hole No. 1 is a great par 5. From the tips, it plays 542 yards uphill and a dog-leg left at the end. The drive is relatively tame, but the second must be played with precision as the tree-lined fairway narrows considerably from 100 yards in. Anyone going for this one in two will have to be long indeed – and with a high fairway wood game as the green sits atop a hill.

The 12 hole at La Purisima is perhaps the most intimidating par 5 in our area. It tips out at 609 yards with a slight dog-leg to the right again at the end. From the tee it looks like a mile to the green. The tee shot must carry water, and then the second requires accuracy to allow a long approach. Birdie here is rare, even for pros.

Monarch Dunes

The Nipomo Dunes and surrounding Eucalyptus trees make for great golf terrain at Monarch Dunes. My favorite holes here are two par 5s that sit side by side. No. 8 at 490 yards runs parallel to the 15th, measuring 560 yards. Both holes require accurate tee shots and then some, with the seconds that must navigate water. They both play uphill, making a two-shot landing unlikely. The combination of dunes, trees and water make for a memorable experience.

Rancho San Marcos

Most golfers will find the three back-nine par 5s the most interesting here. No. 10 plays 492 yards and all three shots must be exact.

In order to have a go at it in two, the golfer must carry the bunker guarding the fairway dog-leg to the left. No. 12 goes at 524 yards with a double fairway. The second must carry a stream to set up the partially blind approach on this uphill hole.

The 18th is all about the tee shot, launched from such an elevation as to make this 542-yard par 5 play much shorter. Out of bounds left and lateral to the right. Solve this riddle and the second should be fairly easy.


Again, it is the back-nine par 5s that are worth mention. The 13th hole at Sandpiper is one of the most photographed holes in golf and has been used in countless commercials. At 532 yards, it is usually downwind, making it reachable for big hitters. The tee shot is somewhat blind but does allow for considerable roll on the sloped fairway. The second is an intimidating shot reminiscent of Pebble Beach’s more famous holes.

The green is severely elevated and the entire hole plays along the ocean-front bluff. The smarter play even for the long ball is to bail a bit to the left and take the big number out of the equation. No. 15 right after plays close to 600 yards but much of that downwind. The mountain views in the background take the pain out of this brute.