Worth Your Money: Pasatiempo, a MacKenzie Course You Can Play

Tired of hearing about how great a golf trip to Pebble Beach or St. Andrews is? No kidding. These days we're looking for a golf trip that makes sense for our games and our budgets. So we've started a weekly feature on Golf.com called "Worth Your Money," where Golf Magazine's travel editors find a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out the Alister MacKenzie-designed Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. THE DESTINATION: PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB IN SANTA CRUZ, CALIF.

Pasa_640 Pasatiempo Golf Club, 6,125 yards, par 72, pasatiempo.com

The problem with the masterworks of Alistair MacKenzie, the Michelangelo of golf architecture, is that many are held in private collections, accessible only to the privileged few. Not Pasatiempo, which informed Mackenzie’s design of Augusta National and sits just up the coast from his Cypress Point layout. Like those iconic courses, this one bears the architect’s distinctive imprint (deftly restored by Tom Doak in recent years), with wide, buckled fairways, rollicking greens and beautiful minefields of blinding white bunkers. It even sports a hole -- the humpbacked 16th, which spills over a gorge to a three-tiered putting surface -- that Mackenzie described as the finest par 4 in his portfolio.
The difference here, of course, is that everyone is welcome. Though you pay more than you would for an average round, the experience is everything that you could ask for, from the opening tee, backlit in the distance by the Pacific, to the final iron shot -- the course closes quirkily on a par 3. Along the way, you get a glimpse of MacKenzie’s former home (it overlooks the sixth fairway) and clearer insight into why his name is spoken with such reverence. If that sounds worth it to you, join the club. WHERE TO STAY

Chiminade Resort & Spa. This mountain-top, Mission-style retreat sits less than 10 minutes from the course and features sweeping views of Monterey Bay. From $99. 831-475-5600, Chaminade.com Four Seasons, Palo Alto. All the usual Four Seasons luxury in the heart of California’s high-tech capital -- perfect if you’re pairing Pasatiempo with a Silicon Valley business trip. From $250. 650-566-1200, Fourseasons.com/paloalto WHERE TO EAT

Le Cigare Volante. The signature restaurant at Bonny Doon Vineyards, an iconic Santa Cruz winery, turns out a seasonal menu of locally sourced Cal-Med cuisine. 831-425-6737, Bonnydoonvineyard.com

Manresa. David Kinch, the greatest chef you’ve probably never heard of, is the magician at this Michelin-two-star restaurant, set in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Well worth the short drive after the round. 408-354-4330, manresarestaurant.com (Photo: Courtesy Rob Babcock)

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