Enjoy drama and the salt spray on northern California's coastal courses

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 12, 2012, 5:00 am

When you think of golf along coastlines, such exotic venues as Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, Old Head and Ballybunion in Ireland and the Ailsa Course at Scotland's Turnberry Resort come to mind. Yet California has them beat in one key element -- proximity.

Many of these northern California golf courses, all of them visually stunning and memorable experiences, sit atop bluffs. Even the holes nearest the water at the aptly named Pacific Dunes course in Bandon, Ore., stand imperiously above the waves. The same can be said for picturesque Torrey Pines near San Diego.

In contrast, there are days at Pebble Beach where you can find yourself putting on the seventh green -- that famous par 3 on the rocks -- while a salty mist gently descends, courtesy of the waves crashing on the rocks.

During the winter time, distant storms in the Pacific can propel series of waves that overwhelm the seawall along Pebble Beach's 18th fairway, resulting in the links equivalent of getting a cold shower while hitting a shot.

With that perspective, here is a rundown on northern California's top coastal golf opportunities.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Location: Del Monte Forest.
Visuals: Unparalleled.
Golf: From holes 4 through 10, no course offers such dramatic beauty and challenging golf. Years ago Jack Nicklaus called the approach shot to Pebble Beach Golf Links' eighth green the greatest second shot in golf. It still is. And Nos. 9 and 10 may be even harder. After that the famous 17th and 18th become nearly anticlimactic.
Proximity: It's possible to get drenched by large waves.

Spyglass Hill Golf Course

Location: Del Monte Forest.
Visuals: Awesome on holes 1 through 4, and then the course turns inland.
Golf: It's been said by so many it's almost a cliche: 'I liked it better than Pebble.' Designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr. said Spyglass Hill Golf Course's par-4 fourth hole is his favorite; this from a man who redesigned Oakland Hills and Augusta National.
Proximity: The views from the second green and the third tee show the Monterey coastline in its glory. Look south over Monterey Peninsula Country Club and glimpse parts of the Cypress Point Club, but it's hard to hear the waves.

The Links at Spanish Bay

Location: Del Monte Forest.
Visuals: The Links at Spanish Bay's first green and second tee overlook the nearby beach, and then the course heads inland through dunes, and you get more views on holes 7 and 8. The best comes on No. 14, a par 5 that descends toward the beach. You finish among the dunes and natural grasses, the air redolent of salt and sea.
Golf: Designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr. loves links golf, and he gets it right. A great links resort course -- not too penal, unique and beautiful.
Proximity: Holes 14, 15 and 16 are separated by a trail and natural grasses from the beach, but no salt spray.

Pacific Grove Golf Course

Location: Located just outside the gates of the Del Monte Forest in Pacific Grove west of Monterey.
Visuals: Views of the coastline and even the Santa Cruz headlands can be seen on the par-5 14th.
Golf: Some call Pacific Grove Golf Course the poor man's Pebble Beach, and with rates less than $40 it's hard to find such value anywhere. The short front nine plays through the trees, but the back nine opens up on the dunes and plays like southwest Scotland.
Proximity: Views only but worth it.

Black Horse at Bayonet/Black Horse Golf Course

Location: Seaside, about 10 miles north of Monterey.
Visuals: A redesign by Gene Bates cleared out hundreds of trees to open views of Monterey Bay. Black Horse's tougher sister course, Bayonet, cant say the same.
Golf: If not so close to Pebble Beach, this might be considered to be one of the country's top 10 golf destinations. Bayonet is worthy of a PGA Tour event; Black Horse is friendlier and prettier.
Proximity: Views through the trees.

Half Moon Bay Resort

Location: Just south of the small beach town of Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles west of the San Francisco Airport. This resort next to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel has two distinct courses, the Old and the Ocean.
Visuals: Few places in the world offer such a dramatic hole as the 18th on Half Moon Bay's Old Course -- a par 4 that hugs the bluffs, waves crashing below, its green tucked near the backside of the beautiful hotel. Better yet, the tee at the Ocean Course's 16th offer an astonishing panorama of the headlands north, with the stately Ritz resting like a luxurious outpost overlooking the water.
Golf: The first 16 holes of the Old Course play very much like a classic country club before the dramatic setting at Nos. 17 and 18. Half Moon Bay's Ocean Course, which opened 10 years ago, might be designer Arthur Hills' best work: a true links course on the bluffs that gives you Scotland without the long flight.
Proximity: A miss-step on the right side at No. 18 on the Old Course or to the left of the Ocean course's par-3 17th will send you tumbling to the beach below.

The New Links at Bodega Harbour

Location: On the bluffs overlooking Bodega, about 60 miles north of San Francisco.
Visuals: At least 14 holes offer wide views of Bodega Bay.
Golf: The New Links at Bodega Harbour is Robert Trent Jones, Jr.'s attempt to make a links-style course atop hills, and it can be rather quirky, especially the par-5 fifth. The last three holes rest on flat land near the marsh and are the best.
Proximity: Two miles.

Lincoln Park Golf Course

Location: San Francisco.
Visuals: A 5,100-yard, par 68, up-and-down golf course, Lincoln Park offers little hint to what comes at the amazing par-3 17th, where your their eyes are drawn magnetically to the golden orange edifice that connects San Francisco to Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golf: Tight with elevation changes, the lesser of the city's two public courses is a unique challenge and at times is in poor condition.
Proximity: Bluff overlooking Pacific while looking east at the Golden Gate.

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API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 19th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.