Monterey Peninsula proves its a golf destination for all types

By Erik PetersonFebruary 9, 2009, 5:00 pm
bayonet
The 18th hole at Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif. (Joann Dost)
 
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Long before the term Golf Destination became popular, California’s Monterey Peninsula was the mecca for worshipers of golf. Though some may not consider jagged coastline and occasionally dense fog to be favorable design characteristics, when balanced with rich inland soil and a dry climate, the result is one of the most dramatic and natural settings for golf anywhere in the world.
 
For more golf on the Monterey Peninsula, or to plan your next trip, visit MontereyGolf.com
The crown jewel of the peninsula is, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. It was designed by Jack Neville and opened in 1919 with a modest green fee of $2, though now it's $495.

What began as a visionary residential project quickly grew into one of the most desirable golf destinations in the country, eventually ascending to a status no other public course has achieved. No price seems too high for some to play Pebble Beach.
 
It has hosted four U.S. Opens and four U.S. Amateurs and is the host of the PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Year after year, despite consistent rate increases, Pebble remains one of the busiest courses in the country, averaging more than 60,000 rounds per year while your typical golf course gets about 27,000.
 
Among Pebble’s oceanside neighbors are three other public courses: Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Poppy Hills Golf Course and The Links at Spanish Bay.

Spyglass Hill is widely regarded as second-best on the Peninsula, and many Tour players actually prefer its layout to that of Pebble.

The inland Poppy Hills is the home of the California State Golf Association, while Spanish Bay is one of the most unique courses – bagpipers give it a distinctly Scottish feel. Rates are $330, $200 and $260 respectively.
 
The new kid on the block
For one of the most impressive redesigns you’ll ever see, head north to Bayonet/Black Horse. This 36-hole facility in Seaside is situated on the property of Fort Ord, a former U.S. Army post. The vision for the golf course came together in 1954 while the base was still open, under the direction of General Robert B. McClure, who enlisted the design help of one of his soldiers stationed at Fort Ord, eventual World Golf Hall of Famer Ken Venturi.
 
In December 2008, both the Bayonet and Black Horse courses reopened after a $13 million redesign by golf course architect Gene Bates that included overhauls of the routing and bunkering. Trees were removed or trimmed to allow sweeping views of the nearby Monterey Bay to shine through.
 
“The project’s goal was to make the quality of the golf courses commensurate with the best and most storied layouts of the Monterey Peninsula,” Bates said. “We made a concerted effort to open up views of the bay – now 10-12 holes have unobstructed views. There are only a handful of these great sites left in the world.”
 
Rates are $160 during the weekends, $115 during the week. Afternoon, replay and junior rates are priced even lower. Not bad for a high-end course on the Monterey Peninsula. A 275-room Fairmont Hotel & Resort is also in the works, scheduled to break ground in 2009.
 
Blue collar golf
For a more blue-collar experience, check out Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. Often referred to as Poor-Man’s Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove offers two distinct nines. The inland front nine is your everyday municipal course, while the back nine let's you feel the sensation of golf on the Pacific. At $45 its easily your least expensive option for ocean golf on the peninsula.
 
“Players like it because it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Pebble Beach courses,” said Joe Riekena, head golf professional at Pacific Grove.
 
At $45 it’s a shoo-in on any Top Courses Under $50 list. For an even better deal, show up before 8 a.m. when they allow play on the back nine for $20. “A lot of people will show up and play the back nine early in the morning before they go out and play another course in the area,” Riekena said.
 
Less than a mile inland is Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey. It's the original course in the Pebble Beach family, and is the oldest continuously operating golf course west of the Mississippi River. It is a parkland-style design, rich in history and heritage, as evidenced by the photography that adorns the clubhouse. Small greens make this relatively short course deceptively tricky.
 
For another innocent looking course with plenty of bite, head south on Highway 101 to Carmel Valley Ranch Resort. This semi-private course etched in the Santa Lucia Mountains features two distinct nines and is known to have some of the truest putting surfaces on the peninsula. Rates are $225 with twilight rates of $125.
 
Another close option is Rancho Cañada Golf Club, a 36-hole facility just down the road from Carmel Valley Ranch. It offers two 18-hole courses and greens fees are a modest $70.
 
If you spend any considerable time inland, don’t forget that vineyards abound. Monterey County ranks third in terms of value of wine grapes in North America with more than 40,000 acres of vineyards planted.
 
Also check out Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s one of the most famous racetracks in America. Placed in a dramatic mountainous setting, it's the most scenic inland course on the peninsula.

Where to stay
The question of where to stay is answered simply by knowing how much you want to spend. A night at the Lodge at Pebble Beach will cost you $700 or more. Spanish Bay isn’t far behind at $600-plus. If to you the experience of staying at the Lodge is worth it – and who can blame you – then go for it.
 
For more modest alternatives, Monterey is centrally located to restaurants, and isn’t far from the ocean. Hilton and Marriott both have hotels here.
 
How to get there
120 miles south of San Francisco. 75 miles south of San Jose. Non-stop flights into Monterey Municipal Airport from Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
 
If you elect to fly into Monterey, it is advised to rent a car. With so much natural beauty surrounding you, taking a taxi or a hotel shuttle to get around would be a shame. And with that in mind, don't forget the GPS unit.

Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.