The GolfNow Local Leaderboard: Monterey and the San Francisco Bay Area

By Brandon TuckerFebruary 5, 2013, 4:20 pm

For most of us, Pebble Beach Golf Links is a round of golf that comes once in a lifetime -- if we're lucky. But beyond Pebble and its infamous $495 green fee, California's Monterey Peninsula offers plenty of other suitable golf experiences with a fraction of the green fee. 

So in that spirit, we've gone to GolfNow.com's user ratings, launched last fall, to select the Bay Area's top five golf courses as rated by golfers themselves. 

While the major publications have panelists with a set criteria on how to rate a golf course, the GolfNow ratings put the regular golfer in control of what's important to their experience. Some may value conditions more than design, while others may highlight a facility's service. Also, the vastmajority of these reviews come from verified GolfNow purchasers who are rating the experience based on the exact dollar amount they paid for the round. 

So here they are, the Top 5 golf courses in Monterey and the greater San Francisco Bay Area as rated by GolfNow users*: 

1. Bayonet & Black Horse (4.6/5.0): 36-hole Bayonet & Black Horse makes for the GolfNow's top-rated facility between San Francisco and Monterey. The word on this gem minutes from Pebble Beach is certainly out, because it's also the most frequently rated facility as well. Reading the many reviews, the common theme is that both Bayonet and Blackhorse are challenging yet magnificently conditioned, especially considering green fees are a fraction of the Pebble Beach resort courses nearby. 

'The revisions and upgrades that have been done in recent years make these courses a must play when visiting the Monterey area,' wrote Bob Anderson, a 12.2 handicap from El Dorado Hills. 'They are always immaculately groomed...You are treated as if you are playing a private country club.' 

2. The Chardonnay Golf Club (4.46/5.0): In Napa, golfers are toasting Chardonnay for its peaceful setting surrounded by lush hillsides and vineyards. Stellar course conditions and the fact this course is usually not too crowded are also lauded frequently by GolfNow raters. With tee times currently available under $50, it's a big-time steal northeast of the Bay Area.

T-3. Cinnabar Hills Golf Club (4.42/5.0): Raters love how close this scenic and quiet course is from the San Jose area in the South Bay. Opened in 1998, 27-hole Cinnabar Hills has become a local favorite for scenic mountain views and fast, bent grass greens to go with the John Harbottle III design. Raters also call it one of the area's best values (Tee times: $40-70).

T-3. Salinas Golf & Country Club (4.42/5.0): Historic Salinas, which opened in 1925, recently opened up some tee times for outside play, and the gesture has certainly been appreciated amongst the public. The course has shot into the 4th slot in the region. Golfers appear to love the old country club charm to go along with supremely friendly, member-worthy service a few minutes north of the Monterey Peninsula.

5. The Ranch Golf Club (4.35/5.0): GolfNow raters warn this San Jose-area course is no slouch (with a slope of 150 off the back tees), but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time here, especially with mountain scenery this good. Just be sure to practice your sidehill lies...

*Ratings based on results 9/20/2012-1/31/2013. Facilities in this market need a minimum of 12 ratings to qualify. 69 Bay Area were eligible for the rankings on the cutoff date. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.