Spyglass Hill Golf Course

Resort, 18 holes, $350 - $385

Spyglass Hill has been ranked as one of the top courses in the U.S. by Golf Magazine's panel of experts.

Spyglass Hill suffers in the long shadows cast by its neighbors, Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, but many serious golfers will claim under oath that Spyglass is harder than its more celebrated neighbors -- and more than a few will whisper that it's better.

The first six holes may be the most dramatic in the world. The first is a long par 5 that plummets down a hill and doglegs left, giving golfers a magnificent view of the Pacific. The second hole is a short, narrow, uphill par 4. The fairway is surrounded by ice plant, an indigenous weed that thrives in the sandy soil of the Monterey Peninsula. The 3rd hole, a mid-length par 3, again goes downhill toward the water to a green that is guarded by sandy mounds.

The 4th hole is one of Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s favorite par 4s. Players must choose between playing it safe off the tee, which means attacking the pencil-thin green (in some areas it is less than six paces across) from farther out, or challenging the ice plant and sand on the left to set up a shorter approach. The 5th hole is a 197-yard par 3 that plays toward the ocean once again.

Critics complain that, after the sixth tee, you're done with the ocean and the ice plant. That's true, but the inland holes are gorgeous and tough. Two are among the most underrated in golf: the reverse-cambered par-4 8th that slopes to the right but doglegs left, and the brutal 16th, a par 4 where merely hitting the green in regulation is cause for celebration. Recent improvements in drainage have Spyglass in its best shape ever.

For more information, go to pebblebeach.com.

Design - Golf Course at Spyglass Hill Golf Course
  • Year Built: 1966
  • Designer: Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
  • Greens Grass Type: Poa Annua Grass
  • Fairways Grass Type: Poa Annua Grass
  • Water Hazards: Yes
  • Sand Bunkers: 71-80
  • Yardage Markers: 200, 150, 100 Yard Markers