CARMEL, Calif. – Although Quail Lodge Golf Club no longer offers the lodge portion of the property as a resort, there's still good reason to make the trip to the Carmel Valley to play this charming Robert Muir Graves-designed layout.
The club still offers a high-end, semi-private golf course with attention paid to every detail. The course is plush, the food and beverage service is top tier and the golf shop is among the best stocked on the entire Monterey Peninsula.
Visitors used to be able to stay at the lodge when it was called the Quail Lodge Golf Resort, but a struggling economy no longer makes that operation viable. The hotel portion of Quail Lodge closed in late 2009, but the Quail Lodge Golf Club, Quail Lodge Golf Academy and Edgar's Restaurant remain open.
What also remains is a good side trip for those who play or watch golf at Pebble Beach.
Right away golfers know they are in for a treat at Quail Lodge as they drive up to the bag drop in front of the two-story clubhouse and outstanding practice facilities, which include a large practice putting green, short-game area and grass range. Inside the clubhouse you'll find Edgar's Restaurant, an excellent stop for a sit-down breakfast, lunch or dinner. Golfers coming to Quail Lodge really should make a day of it.
The star of the show at Quail Lodge remains the golf course. Always in excellent shape, the course is eminently walkable and enjoyable. Although it plays just 6,500 yards, the par 71 presents plenty of challenge. With 10 lakes and the Carmel River coming into play as well as scores of bunkers, there is no shortage of trouble or interest.
The parkland-style course is routed up and down gently rolling hills and valleys, beckoning golfers to shape shots with the terrain and pin positions. Greens always run smooth, and reading their subtle undulations can sometimes be tricky.
The golf course offers a superb collection of par 3s. Three of them play some 200 yards or longer from the back set of tees, including the 12th, which is a daunting 227 yards over a barranca. The fifth, at 197 yards, might be considered one of the signature holes on the course, with a pond to the right of the green, while the 17th, which also has water and sand, is part of a terrific finishing stretch on the course. That finishing stretch includes the dogleg left par-5 15th, which presents a tricky tee shot but a good opportunity for birdie. The finishing hole is an uphill par 4 with water on the left.
Golf lessons at Quail Lodge
The Quail Lodge Golf Academy, led by Director of Instruction Katherine Marren and Head Professional Ross Kroeker, offers one-, two- and three-day programs for both adults and children as well as individual lessons. Both Marren and Kroeker have extensive teaching and distinguished backgrounds. The school offers both private and group instruction and uses state-of-the-art video software and hardware in its teaching program.
The Golf Academy programs also include the best and most current technologies for teaching and clubfitting, including the MAT-T 3-D motion analysis for both clubfitting and instruction.
The club also, from time to time, hosts its Impact Zone Golf Schools, which not only feature Marren and Kroeker, but guest instructor Bobby Clampett, a former PGA Tour player and TV golf commentator.
Quail Lodge Golf Club: The verdict
Although the Quail Lodge is priced far less than Pebble Beach Golf Links and some of the other pricier options on the Monterey Peninsula, you can still expect to pay between $125 to $150 for green fees, which include cart and range balls. It's not exactly bargain golf, but it's certainly in line with its surroundings.
The fee structure is certainly justified when you consider the condition of the golf course. You would be hard pressed to find a bare spot anywhere on it, the landscaping is perfect, and the greens roll as good as any you'll find in the area.
Customer service is also first-rate, from Edgar's Restaurant and halfway house at the turn to the folks in the golf shop, where you can find anything you need on the course and then some. If you're taking a trip to the Monterey Peninsula, Quail Lodge is more than a worthy candidate in the 'other courses to play' category.
This story originally published on GolfCalifornia.com.