I recently took another trip of a lifetime with Saints Golf, the University of St Andrews golf team, to Northern California and Monterey. The line up of courses included The Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club, CordeValle, Pasatiempo, Monterey Peninsula, Poppy Hills, and Spyglass
Our travels began in San Francisco. We started our trip with playing our first round on the Ocean Course at The Olympic Club. The second day we played the Lake Course, which hosted the 2012 U.S. Open where Webb Simpson won his first major. The Lake course was much more of a challenge, compared to the Ocean Course, with more difficult greens and more slant and slope in the fairways, which demanded shaped tee shots just to keep the ball in the fairway.
Additionally, Olympic has one of the best par 3 courses I have ever played! The 9 hole short course was literally on the ‘cliffs’ and had the most breathtaking views of the entire club property. If you are ever at Olympic you should take an extra hour to play the Cliffs course!
Our next stop was San Francisco Golf Club. The original Tillinghast design lived up to its reputation as not only a great layout, but also a true test of golf. Each hole of the course was simply great. What you see, you get. That being said, do not underestimate the challenge the course presents. SFGC required a variety of different shots… and a strong bunker game! If you ever have the chance to play here definitely check out the History Room in the upstairs of the clubhouse. I loved it just as much as the course!
We then drove just over an hour south to San Martin, CA to play CordeValle Golf Club, host of the 2016 Women’s Open. CordeValle is definitely one of my favorite courses to play as it is a fun track and is very different from its other nearby ocean-lined competitors. CordeValle, meaning “heart of the valley”, has beautiful scenery with green grass contrasting against the darker colors of the vineyards and mountainsides in the distance.
Pasatiempo, located in Santa Cruz, was our next round. This Alister Mackenzie design was interesting because every hole was very unique. The course played much longer than the overall yardage and the greens were quite challenging. Pasatiempo was a course that I did not hear as much about when compared to the other big names courses on this trip. But, Pasa deserves just as many compliments as the other courses. I would highly recommend adding Pasatiempo to any Northern California/Monterey golf trip.
Later we journeyed down another hour south to Monterey Peninsula Country Club. First, we played the newly Fazio renovated Dunes Course. The sand dunes lining each hole gave the course a rustic look. But don’t be fooled, you do not want to miss the fairway because hitting out of these sand dunes is not a day at the beach!
MPCC Shore Course was next on the list. The Shore course greens, which did not have as severe of undulation as the Dunes Course, could be compared to putting on an ice skating rink. Yes, they were really that fast! The best view of the whole week was standing on the tee of the 11th hole, par 3 181 yards. With Cypress Point in the distance the view was so stunning it did not even look real!
The next day we played Poppy Hills, former co-host of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It was a fun round, but the course was more average compared the rest. The green were fast and smooth and the course was in surprisingly great shape for how much traffic it gets. And Spyglass was our last stop! Even though the first few holes of the course have the ocean view, I definitely preferred the inland holes that followed.
Overall, it was another unforgettable trip that I was fortunate enough to experience thanks to Saints Golf!
Wow, what a trip, hitting almost every heavyweight in SanFran/Monterey! Super jealous that you got to play MPCC and SFGC :)!
Just curious, was there a particular course that you enjoyed more than the rest, a “play it every day if I could” course or were they all great?
Thanks for the comment! I really enjoyed all the tracks. But, if I had to pick a “play it every day if I could” course it would be MPCC Shore Course!
What a trip Alexa! Met you with your Dad at St Andrews when you first arrived! Keep up the great golf and stories. Best, Declan