Pasatiempo Golf Club maintains elite status with redesign

By Links MagazineFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Marion Hollins was the preeminent female athlete of the 1920s, earning accolades in tennis, golf, polo and steeplechase. Hollins was also involved in real estate, and managed the development of the Cypress Point Club.
She was also the visionary behind Pasatiempo Golf Club, one of the finest public courses in the country. Hollins teamed up with another giant of the era, Alister MacKenzie, to build the layout in Santa Cruz, north of the Monterey Peninsula.
Its one of Americas treasures, and the most MacKenzie of MacKenzie courses, says Tom Doak, a MacKenzie expert who led the recently completed restoration of Pasatiempo. At other great MacKenzie courses like Augusta National and Royal Melbourne, he left behind his ideas for others to implement, says Doak. But MacKenzie lived on Pasatiempos 6th fairway from 1929 until he died in 1934, and he was constantly tweaking and tinkering even after construction.
For the courses opening on September 8, 1929, Hollins enlisted Bobby Jones for a match. The U.S. Open champion on the eve of his Grand Slam season found a kindred spirit in MacKenzie, who shared Jones affinity for the Old Course at St. Andrews. There is little doubt that this meeting at Pasatiempo played a key hand in Jones later decision to draft MacKenzie to design Augusta National.
But over the next few decades, Pasatiempo didnt age as well as some of MacKenzies other designs. Throughout the Great Depression and into the 1940s and 50s, the cost of maintenance resulted in the filling in of many bunkers. In the 60s hundreds of trees were planted to bring in a parallel structure that didnt exist in the original design.
The courses 50th anniversary in 1979 triggered an interest in the courses origins, and former club historian Bob Beck uncovered a collection of photographs, including some from the opening-day exhibition by famed celebrity photographer Julian Graham, that showed how much the course had transformed over the years.
In the mid 90s, when shareholders of the semi-private Pasatiempo decided to explore a restoration effort, the obvious choice was Doak, co-author of The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Doaks presentation to the shareholders was simple and direct. I told them it didnt have to be complicated, Doak says. They didnt need us to draw a blueprint; they already knew what it was like from the photos.
However, there was still some hesitation. So the plan was for Doak to prove his mettle with a relatively benign restoration of No. 12 as a test case. After it was deemed a success, the overall project gained momentum.
Even so, due to the lack of a strong consensus among the shareholders, the project took almost as long to complete as Bostons Big Dig. Doak and associate Jim Urbina performed much of the restoration piecemeal'one hole at a time, followed by an evaluation before receiving approval to start the next hole. When Doak finally completed the entire course in 2007, the project had taken more than 10 years.
In the end, Doak and Urbina restored 36 bunkers'most dramatically a large cross bunker on the uphill 214-yard 3rd hole'that had been grassed over, rebuilt several others, removed more than 50 trees, and recontoured the greens, as well as enlarging all 18 by a total of 26,000 square feet.
The results are dazzling'improving vistas, playability and MacKenzies belief that golf was about more than just pure distance. He wanted to design courses players couldnt just overpower, and 6,500-yard Pasatiempo remains a perfect example.
Located just miles off the Pacific coast, Pasatiempo has virtually no water on the course. Yet the back nine has plenty of hazard stakes marking steep ravines that skirt the holes. Almost as treacherous are MacKenzies bunkers, with lips so formidable they could more correctly be characterized as walls. Finally, the severity of the greens'due in part to elevation changes of 300 feet on the site'make three-putting simply an accepted way of life for regulars.
These bold features are in abundance at the 387-yard 16th, MacKenzies acknowledged favorite. A blind tee shot leads to an approach to a triple-tiered elevated green in the sky, guarded by barranca, stream, false front and a restored bunker that is, in Doaks words, stunningly rugged.
But reaching the green is not the end of the considerable task on this hole. Should a player be unfortunate enough to have misjudged the approach and leave a putt from above the hole on one of the more menacing and unforgettable greens in golf, the ball will simply not stop on the lower portion of the putting surface.
Similarly unforgettable is the 392-yard 11th, which dares players with a severely uphill carry across a diagonal barranca to a sloping green that demands precision. For those who like challenges, this is one of the most memorable holes in the game.
Like much of the back nine, the closing hole ends with a carry over the imposing barranca. Joining the likes of the Homesteads Cascades and East Lake Country Club, Pasatiempo is one of a handful of great courses with a par-3 finishing hole, 169 yards that is virtually all carry to a green guarded by a group of newly restored bunkers.
Although Pasatiempo always has been a must-stop for Golden Age aficionados making the journey from the Bay Area to the Monterey Peninsula, Doaks restoration rightfully has brought renewed attention to the MacKenzie gem. In The Spirit of St. Andrews, MacKenzie wrote: Many good golfers consider the second nine holes at Pasatiempo the finest in existence.
Especially now, its hard to argue with him.
Take a video tour of Pasatiempo
Photo courtesy, Pasatiempo Golf Club
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.