As summer approaches local golfers start to think about traveling north to play some layouts less than a two-hour drive away. For a short stay Avila Bay is a great place to drop anchor and partake in the San Luis Obispo golf scene. The town of Avila Bay has undergone a remarkable renovation with all new children’s parks and buildings along the oceanfront. The upscale Avila Lighthouse Suites is one of the new buildings located across the street from the ocean, about a 300-yard drive from the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

The Avila Beach Golf Resort is a course with lots of character. The clubhouse is located at the mouth of a tidal estuary with sweeping views of the Pacific and Avila Bay. Desmond Muirhead designed the course with two completely different nines. The front nine flows through an oak-lined canyon with a small creek running through the middle. The seventh hole is a classic dogleg left par-4 measuring 378 yards. The creek runs the length of the fairway at about 270 yards, so big hitters beware. The approach shot is uphill and must carry a large deep bunker fronting the green that is severely pitched from front to back, making an accurate second that much more important.

The back nine is the more scenic of the two, crossing the tidal estuary several times. The par-4 10th hole is a dramatic start at 430 yards. The tee shot must carry the estuary and avoid large palm trees on both sides. After a good hit off the tee the golfer is likely to face a long second shot into a small green. The 18th is a scenic finishing hole. This 350-yard par-4 requires a 200-yard carry from the Blue Tees. Normally into the wind it plays longer than the yardage as does much of the course, which is walkable with most of the legwork occurring on the front nine. The Blue Tees play 6,513 yards; White 6,053; and Red 5,041 yards. For more info visit www.avilabeachresort.com or call 805-595-4000.

There are plenty of choices for another round of golf nearby. In Nipomo, just 20 minutes south, you have Monarch Dunes, Cypress Ridge and Black Lake. Hunter Ranch is about 35 minutes north while Morro Bay and Dairy Creek are about a 20-minute drive. If you can arrange it San Louis Obispo Country Club is well worth the visit, about 15 minutes inland from Pismo Beach.

The Avila Lighthouse Suites is brand new and features a nautical theme. Many suites face the ocean just across the street. There is a large pool and Jacuzzi area, as well as a giant chess board for family amusement. The new children’s park is no more than 50 yards away. Just up the street from the Avila Lighthouse is the retail area, which has been totally renovated with new restaurants, markets and shops. We ate at The Custom House Restaurant, seafood being the specialty, of course.

For more info visit www.avilalighthousesuites.com or call 627-1900.

Tom Kite Critical of USGA

Tom Kite has joined the growing ranks of accomplished players who are now openly critical of how the USGA is managing golf. Kite, along with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beaman are in favor of reigning in golf ball and club technology, which has allowed big hitters to gain 40-50 yards over the last several years.

”If the manufacturers continue to run the game, I think the game is in for a long, tough road,” Kite said in the latest edition of GolfWeek’s “SuperNews.” “The rule-making body (USGA) is not making the rules for the game. The manufacturers are, and their number one goal is to sell product. The game has changed so dramatically the last six to eight years. What’s happened is a joke. It’s mind-boggling, compared to how much change there was the last one hundred years. Everything is based on speed. It’s not based on ball-striking. If you want a good game, you can go buy it.”

Jack Nicklaus has long advocated cutting back the golf ball by 15 to 25 yards. This would really only affect players with clubhead speed of 110 miles per hour or greater.

One of the prevailing worries is that if the USGA doesn’t act, the great majority of older courses in the U.S. will be obsolete. In our area this is particularly true with Valley Club, Birnam Wood, Montecito Country Club and La Cumbre, all 6,500 yards or less with no room to grow.

The answer could be the so-called “Silver Bullet” ball, which would control the bombers without causing a loss of distance to the average player. If the manufacturers were forced to go in that direction I am sure they would find a way to make such a ball.