Pebble Beach Golf Links
Ranked second on Golf Magazine’s Best Courses You Can Play in the U.S. and seventh in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World? The green fee is high and the pace of play is not the fastest, but the dazzling landscape, the golf history played out on its fairways and greens, and the immeasurable wow factor all place it in the priceless category at least once in any serious golfer’s life.
Home to arguably the best five opening holes in golf, this Robert Trent Jones Sr. design debuted in 1966 and is ranked second on Golf Magazine’s Best Courses You Can Play in California.
Always the toughest course used in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the Spy impresses with sea views, sand dunes and elevation changes on those first five holes, and then challenges you even more on the heavily wooded and less dramatic back nine.
Pasatiempo Golf Club
Designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie in the hills above Santa Cruz, 40 minutes north of Monterey, Pastiempo debuted in 1929 and was restored to its full glory in 2007 by Tom Doak.
From a view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Crux boardwalk on the opening tee to the closing par-3 18th, this 6,500-yard course repels every attack with rolling terrain crisscrossed by barrancas, lots of bold bunkers and nightmarishly quick greens.
Par 4s form the meat of this meal. Ranked third on Golf Magazine’s Best Courses You Can Play in California, Pasatimepo has also been home to Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who grew up in a house on the 14th fairway, and MacKenzie, who spent the last years of his life living in a home overlooking the sixth fairway.
The Links at Spanish Bay
Ranked sixth on Golf Magazine’s Best Courses You Can Play in California, this layout, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Watson and former USGA president Sandy Tatum, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
A superb opening par 5 sets the pace; the green affords a panorama of Spanish Bay. Purists say there are too many woods, wetlands and forced carries to call it a true links, but with the breeze, the firm turf and a bagpiper sounding his tune along the first fairway at dusk, this could pass for Scotland — except that the Scots never had it so cushy.
Bayonet Black Horse, Bayonet Course
Ranked 16th on Golf Magazine’s Best Courses You Can Play in California, Bayonet has benefited greatly from a complete renovation in 2008.
Originally designed in 1954 on what was then the Fort Ord military base by a U.S. Army General (a lefthander, which reportedly explains an abundance of dogleg lefts on the back nine) Bayonet’s tight fairways make it the toughest track in the area. Stay and play packages are available with multiple local hotels.
Bayonet Black Horse, Black Horse Course
A decade younger than the adjacent Bayonet course, Black Horse is a bit less sturdy but also much improved after a thorough renovation that included the creation of a brand new par 3 (the 15th) on the back nine.
Pacific Grove Municipal
After experiencing sticker shock at the prices around Monterey, calm your blood pressure amid the massive sand ridges at Pacific Grove Golf Links just outside the gates of 17-Mile Drive.