Bayonet & Blackhorse on the Monterey Peninsula
In Carmel Valley along the Carmel River below the dramatic Santa Lucia Mountain range, the parkland-style East and West courses at Rancho Canada Golf Club undulate between sycamore and cottonwood trees. The 192-yard hole #13 on the East calls for a carry across the river to an elevated green up against the mountainside. At 6,357 yards, the West is a challenge, including #9 where an uphill dogleg left requires a lay-up short of the water for the average player. Golden eagles, bobcats, deer and 60+ species of birds share the fairways.
Pebble Beach Company’s hidden gem, the oldest course in continuous operation West of the Mississippi (since 1897), Del Monte Golf Course runs 6,357 yards through an oak, cypress and Monterey pine forest. Fairways are tight, greens are so, so small. Start right out with a 505-yard 5-par on #1. Johnny Miller calls it, “Sneaky hard and fun to play."
A 130 slope rating hints at the challenge of Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, a 71 par, 6,161-yard beauty with elevated greens and tons of doglegs, designed into rugged landscape by both Jones Sr. and Jr. The 13-acre natural grass practice facility has been called the best in the county. Online specials at Laguna Seca.
After a multi-year, $13 million renovation, 36-hole Bayonet & Black Horse is back and better than ever. Hole routings were adjusted, and new tees, bunkers and green complexes were added; now 21st century Bentgrass stretches from tee to green and players get unobstructed views of Monterey Bay and Point Pinos. At 7,104 yards, Bayonet is considered by some to be the most difficult track on the Monterey Peninsula. 7,024-yard Black Horse is an ideal companion, with Pacific Ocean views, and millions of splashy, serrated-edged bunkers and super-undulating greens.
Known as the "poor man’s Pebble Beach", Pacific Grove Golf Links has fab ocean views. The front nine moves through deep forest, while the back, designed by the legendary Jack Neville, original designer of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, brings the dunes and ocean into play. Signature holes include #12, a scenic 513-yard par 5 that runs to the waterfront and into prevailing winds.
Across the street from Pebble Beach Golf Links, Peter Hay Golf Course is the only 9 hole, par 3 golf course open to the public on the Monterey Peninsula--a perfect practice ground for the short game, and for kids and other beginners. The 17 Mile Drive gate fee is refunded with purchase of one green fee.
Host to many tournaments including the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (until the 2010 season), Poppy Hills Golf Course weaves through the Del Monte Forest. A 74.3/144 force to be reckoned with, the popular Robert Trent Jones Jr. design is the home course for the Northern California Golf Association. NCGA members get nearly a 75% discount off the $200 public green fee.
Green fees do run up at Spyglass Hill Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and part of Pebble Beach Resorts complex. The layout rolls through seaside dunes and cuts through a dense pine forest with elevated greens and maddeningly-placed bunkers and lakes. With a course rating of 75.5 and a slope rating of 147, this spectacular course is no slouch. Spyglass was ranked #11 on "America's 100 Greatest Public Courses" list by Golf Digest for 2009/2010.More about golf in Monterey County.
Founder/editor of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld, Karen Misuraca is a travel and golf writer from the California Wine Country. She follows the little white ball around the world and blogs about International Golf Travel. And, she also writes a blog on Sustainable Travel.