Monterey Peninsula proves its a golf destination for all types

By Erik PetersonFebruary 9, 2009, 5:00 pm
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The 18th hole at Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif. (Joann Dost)
 
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Long before the term Golf Destination became popular, California’s Monterey Peninsula was the mecca for worshipers of golf. Though some may not consider jagged coastline and occasionally dense fog to be favorable design characteristics, when balanced with rich inland soil and a dry climate, the result is one of the most dramatic and natural settings for golf anywhere in the world.
 
For more golf on the Monterey Peninsula, or to plan your next trip, visit MontereyGolf.com
The crown jewel of the peninsula is, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. It was designed by Jack Neville and opened in 1919 with a modest green fee of $2, though now it's $495.

What began as a visionary residential project quickly grew into one of the most desirable golf destinations in the country, eventually ascending to a status no other public course has achieved. No price seems too high for some to play Pebble Beach.
 
It has hosted four U.S. Opens and four U.S. Amateurs and is the host of the PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Year after year, despite consistent rate increases, Pebble remains one of the busiest courses in the country, averaging more than 60,000 rounds per year while your typical golf course gets about 27,000.
 
Among Pebble’s oceanside neighbors are three other public courses: Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Poppy Hills Golf Course and The Links at Spanish Bay.

Spyglass Hill is widely regarded as second-best on the Peninsula, and many Tour players actually prefer its layout to that of Pebble.

The inland Poppy Hills is the home of the California State Golf Association, while Spanish Bay is one of the most unique courses – bagpipers give it a distinctly Scottish feel. Rates are $330, $200 and $260 respectively.
 
The new kid on the block
For one of the most impressive redesigns you’ll ever see, head north to Bayonet/Black Horse. This 36-hole facility in Seaside is situated on the property of Fort Ord, a former U.S. Army post. The vision for the golf course came together in 1954 while the base was still open, under the direction of General Robert B. McClure, who enlisted the design help of one of his soldiers stationed at Fort Ord, eventual World Golf Hall of Famer Ken Venturi.
 
In December 2008, both the Bayonet and Black Horse courses reopened after a $13 million redesign by golf course architect Gene Bates that included overhauls of the routing and bunkering. Trees were removed or trimmed to allow sweeping views of the nearby Monterey Bay to shine through.
 
“The project’s goal was to make the quality of the golf courses commensurate with the best and most storied layouts of the Monterey Peninsula,” Bates said. “We made a concerted effort to open up views of the bay – now 10-12 holes have unobstructed views. There are only a handful of these great sites left in the world.”
 
Rates are $160 during the weekends, $115 during the week. Afternoon, replay and junior rates are priced even lower. Not bad for a high-end course on the Monterey Peninsula. A 275-room Fairmont Hotel & Resort is also in the works, scheduled to break ground in 2009.
 
Blue collar golf
For a more blue-collar experience, check out Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. Often referred to as Poor-Man’s Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove offers two distinct nines. The inland front nine is your everyday municipal course, while the back nine let's you feel the sensation of golf on the Pacific. At $45 its easily your least expensive option for ocean golf on the peninsula.
 
“Players like it because it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Pebble Beach courses,” said Joe Riekena, head golf professional at Pacific Grove.
 
At $45 it’s a shoo-in on any Top Courses Under $50 list. For an even better deal, show up before 8 a.m. when they allow play on the back nine for $20. “A lot of people will show up and play the back nine early in the morning before they go out and play another course in the area,” Riekena said.
 
Less than a mile inland is Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey. It's the original course in the Pebble Beach family, and is the oldest continuously operating golf course west of the Mississippi River. It is a parkland-style design, rich in history and heritage, as evidenced by the photography that adorns the clubhouse. Small greens make this relatively short course deceptively tricky.
 
For another innocent looking course with plenty of bite, head south on Highway 101 to Carmel Valley Ranch Resort. This semi-private course etched in the Santa Lucia Mountains features two distinct nines and is known to have some of the truest putting surfaces on the peninsula. Rates are $225 with twilight rates of $125.
 
Another close option is Rancho Cañada Golf Club, a 36-hole facility just down the road from Carmel Valley Ranch. It offers two 18-hole courses and greens fees are a modest $70.
 
If you spend any considerable time inland, don’t forget that vineyards abound. Monterey County ranks third in terms of value of wine grapes in North America with more than 40,000 acres of vineyards planted.
 
Also check out Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s one of the most famous racetracks in America. Placed in a dramatic mountainous setting, it's the most scenic inland course on the peninsula.

Where to stay
The question of where to stay is answered simply by knowing how much you want to spend. A night at the Lodge at Pebble Beach will cost you $700 or more. Spanish Bay isn’t far behind at $600-plus. If to you the experience of staying at the Lodge is worth it – and who can blame you – then go for it.
 
For more modest alternatives, Monterey is centrally located to restaurants, and isn’t far from the ocean. Hilton and Marriott both have hotels here.
 
How to get there
120 miles south of San Francisco. 75 miles south of San Jose. Non-stop flights into Monterey Municipal Airport from Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
 
If you elect to fly into Monterey, it is advised to rent a car. With so much natural beauty surrounding you, taking a taxi or a hotel shuttle to get around would be a shame. And with that in mind, don't forget the GPS unit.
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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.

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Rando withdraws name from Ryder Cup consideration

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:11 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - In a legitimately unexpected move, Stephen Atkinson has removed his name from Ryder Cup consideration, according to a letter leaked by European captain Thomas Bjorn on Monday.

Atkinson, the 52,187th-ranked player in the world and recent winner of the West Hill monthly medal, penned the following letter to Bjorn, removing his name from consideration for September's biennial matches.

Atkinson, who also serves as the Captain of the Babalou Golf Society, immediately squashed speculation that he could instead serve as a vice captain - as Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have in the past - writing that any such suggestion would be "unfair to both the society and the Ryder Cup team."

The decision leaves Bjorn potentially shorthanded and also appears to have sent him into some sort of existential malaise, the severity of which is not yet known.

Atkinson joins P.J. Willett and Central Standard Time in the Hall of Fame of off-course distractions for a European squad that hasn't lost on its home soil in 25 years.