Best Golf Courses in Monterey
Pebble Beach understandably gets all the attention in the Monterey area, however there are so many other great Monterey Peninsula courses to consider, which is why we’re often asked by golfers, “what are the best golf courses in Monterey?” Blessed with the most dramatic, natural settings for golf anywhere in the world, and a beautiful year-round climate, this breath-taking region is golfing paradise. Hopefully our recommendations of the best golf courses in Monterey will get your juices flowing.
Like the Old Course in St Andrews, this is somewhere every serious golfer has to bite the bullet and play at least once in their lifetime. You won’t regret it. Host to the annual celebrity-laden PGA Tour Pro-Am every winter and a US Open host, Pebble Beach Golf Links spectacularly hugs the Carmel Bay cliffs, creating some of the most awesome holes in golf. It is ranked the No.1 public course in America for a reason.
Designed by a team that included Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Watson, the Links at Spanish Bay was modelled on an authentic Scottish course. Views of the Pacific Ocean are dramatic while the extremely undulating, multi-tiered greens, will test your imagination. Opened in 1987, the Links at Spanish Bay joins the already impressive Pebble Beach Company portfolio of Pebble Beach Links, Del Monte and Spyglass Hill courses.
This Robert Trent Jones Sr. course that opened in 1966, is deemed the toughest test of golf on the Monterey Peninsula, and will humble the most proficient players. With a split personality, Spyglass Hill’s first five holes are played along the spectacular Pacific coastline, while holes seven onwards the course heads into the Del Monte forest. Take plenty of balls and a strong spirit, otherwise this course may break you.
About an hour north of Monterey, and therefore a great stop when on your way to/from San Francisco, Pasatiempo is a fine championship course. Designed by the world-renowned Alistair MacKenzie, of Augusta National and Cypress Point fame, the course opened in 1929 and has been a firm favorite in the area since. Golf Digest has rated Pasatiempo as one of the Top three public or semi-private courses to play in California, alongside Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill – that says it all.
One of the seven Pebble Beach golf courses and designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Poppy Hills underwent an extensive refurbishment in 2013. It winds effortlessly through the Del Monte forest overlooking the Monterey Peninsula coastline, and has co-hosted the annual PGA Tour Pebble Beach Pro-Am on numerous occasions, as well as the First Tee Open on the PGA Champions Tour. It really is a beautiful place to play golf.
They say this has been ‘created by nature and handcrafted by Nicklaus’. Previously known as the Pasadera Country Club, this immaculate course is routed through narrow canyons and ancient oaks with dramatic hills and scenic valleys. The impressive 38,000 square foot clubhouse has an early California hacienda, courtyard-style feeling. Although fully private, Golfbreaks.com can get you on.
Situated just a few miles from the coast, Carmel Valley Ranch provides a very different golf experience compared with the coastal courses. A unique microclimate bathes this spectacular 500-acre ranch with over 300-days of sunshine per year. The course sits at the heart and winds its way through the valley floor, the foothills and up to significant elevation. A really beautiful Pete Dye experience.
Bayonet & Blackhorse
Dating back to the 1950’s, both courses are steeped in rich tradition, and have played host to many PGA Tour greats as well as several U.S. Presidents and foreign dignitaries. The Bayonet, recently renovated by Gene Bates, is narrow with penal bunkering while the Blackhorse is more like a links, with sweeping vistas of the Pacific. At over 7,000 yards off the tips, both courses are a great test and rank highly in California.
Birthplace of the California State Amateur and oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi, Del Monte has been instrumental in popularizing golf out West. Built in 1897, this course is also part of the illustrious Pebble Beach Company group of courses. All in all, it is a historic public golf course that is fun to play.