The ultimate golf dream today is the same as it was 25 years ago — win the lottery, move to Monterey and play every day at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and, in the fantasy sequence, the very private Cypress Point.
You need serious coin and connections to access that
triumvirate regularly. The question is, can regular guys
enjoy a golf vacation on the Monterey Peninsula and still
have money left over?
Absolutely. Save Pebble for special occasions. Here’s where else you should play in Monterey.
Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s also roughly half the
price of Pebble Beach. This gorgeous layout begins
at the sea, eases through marshes and dunes,
climbs into the forest and finally returns to the sea.
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.
For years, Pacific Grove was known as the poor
man’s Pebble Beach. The unique setting and undersized greens fee make it one of golf’s great values. Pacific Grove is as close to a seaside British Isles experience as you’ll find in the United States. Chandler Egan’s wooded front nine dates to 1932 and while only a couple of holes there offer memorable challenge or terrain, the back nine is scenic and fun, characterized by ocean views, a lighthouse and some of the tallest dunes this side of Ballybunion.
Once the property of the Army’s Fort Ord, the Bayonet
will slice you to ribbons, especially if you play military golf (left, right, left, right). Bayonet torments players with an inordinate number of uphill doglegs, all hemmed in
with cypresses, pines and damp rough. The golf is honest —
if difficult — and thankfully, on a sunny day, ocean views are not scarce.
Poppy Hills is an exceptional course that’s lacking in drama compared to its neighbors. The course is framed by pines, which, while attractive, block out ocean views. But sharp-eyed golfers will relish the strategy demands. With its huge, wildly heaving greens and clever fairway bunkering, Poppy Hills is worthy of its status as co-host to the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach event.
• Where to stay
The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble
Beach is worth every penny. Rooms
start at $565 (800-654-9300,
If you need to be in the heart of
Monterey, the Monterey Plaza Hotel
& Spa is your best bet. Rooms start
at $190 per night (831-646-1700,
• What to see
Carmel’s Ocean Avenue is home to a splendid collection of shops, restaurants and art galleries. Monterey offers Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (831-648-4800).