My Town: Rod Laver's Carlsbad
Known for his tennis, this Hall-of-Famer finds lots to like in his adopted home
One of tennis' legends, Laver won 11 Grand Slam events and 200 tournaments overall. He was the No. 1 player in the world for seven straight years (from 1964 to 1970). He also helped Australia win four straight Davis Cups. In 1981 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the first of Rod Laver's two tennis Grand Slams, and it finds him playing more golf than tennis these days. "Arthritis in my wrist," Laver explains.
A native Aussie and a 12-year resident of Carlsbad, Calif., Laver, 73, is a member at La Costa Resort and Spa, which not coincidentally has a tennis club to which he became acquainted with decades before he began taking golf seriously. Career victory No. 195 (of 200) came at La Costa in 1975. He also has a membership at Fairbanks Ranch CC in Rancho Santa Fe and plays to a Handicap Index of 12.1.
"I didn't play much golf when I was competing," he said. "I never did try to combine both. But I'm fairly fortunate. I played tennis left-handed, and I play golf right-handed. It's almost like my hitting a backhand."
Does tennis' only two-time Grand Slam winner ('62 and '69) think a golfer will complete a Grand Slam?
"You've got to be superhuman to do it," he said. "I've got to think it's not going to be possible."
La Costa, which has two courses and is open to public play, is great, and I've enjoyed every bit of it, from the tennis to the golf. They've just revamped both courses and did quite an amazing job. It's a little more challenging than it was. They did a lot of it with the bunkers and elevating the greens. They have more ponds too.
Aviara GC is across the street from La Costa and is in an excellent location, adjacent to Bataquitos Lagoon and close to the ocean. The last six or seven years I've played in the American Airlines Celebrity Golf and Tennis tournament benefiting the Susan B. Komen Foundation there. It's a wonderful weekend.
Of course, I have to recommend Torrey Pines GC in La Jolla. It has to be a thrill for anybody to play the South course on which the U.S. Open was played in 2008. It's a great facility, and they continue to improve it.
When you come to San Diego County, Mexican food is in order. I recommend Las Olas (translation: the waves) on South Coast Highway 101 in nearby Cardiff. It is across the street from the Pacific Ocean and has great sunset views. It is known for its margaritas, its Dawn Patrol burrito and its carne asada.
For a sports bar, try Jimmy O's in Del Mar, a block from the beach and a mile from the Del Mar Racetrack.
WHERE TO STAY
This is pretty easy. All three of the courses I've mentioned have excellent hotels. The La Costa Resort has been renovated and all the rooms upgraded. It has a great lounge area. The Park Hyatt Aviara used to be a Four Seasons and has always had terrific rooms. It is a great dinner spot too. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is relatively new and overlooks the South course and the Pacific Ocean.
For those with families, a visit to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas adjacent to Carlsbad is a must -- the perfect San Diego County beach experience. It has lifeguards, fire pits, volleyball courts, a playground and, of course, the ocean.