Dont forget Half Moon Bay when visiting Pebble Beach area


HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- The 36 holes of Half Moon Bay Golf Links are just another reason the northern California coast is probably my favorite overall golf destination. From Monterey Bay up to the San Francisco area, it's hard to beat the stunning scenery of the cliffs on the Pacific Ocean.

Located about a 30-minute drive north from San Francisco International Airport, Half Moon Bay is right up there with Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spanish Bay in terms of dramatic views, and in many ways, more accessible. While Pebble Beach is technically public, it still costs a small fortune to play (a green fee of almost $500 plus a night or two at the Lodge).

Half Moon Bay isn't exactly economy golf, but for considerably less than what it costs to play Pebble, you can tee it up on one or both courses at Half Moon Bay and be blown away by the experience. And while it's not required, you could also stay at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, which has luxury accommodations with incredible views of the course and the ocean. Sunsets by the fire pits outside this magnificent hotel are the perfect end to a day on the links.

And by links, I do mean links -- at least in the look and style of Half Moon Bay's Ocean Course. Designed by Arthur Hills, the Ocean Course, which hosted last year's LPGA Samsung World Championship, is running firm and fast in true links fashion. Five more tees have been added to get it to close to 7,000 yards and there are plans for more new tees and sodded wall bunkers in the near future. Playing a few shots on the ground is definitely part of the required repertoire, especially if the wind is blowing.

The Old Course at Half Moon Bay, an Arnold Palmer design that opened in the 1970s, is a parkland-style layout that winds through a development, but is every bit as good as the Ocean Course. And while the Ocean Course plays to the backdrop of the Pacific, both have finishing stretches along the cliffs that are among the most memorable in golf.