Monterey/Carmel

Behind the 18th green at Pebble's famous par-5 finishing hole

NO. 1 COURSE: PEBBLE BEACH

LOCATION: Pebble Beach, CA

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN JOSE: Take Highway 101 South to Highway 156/ Monterey Peninsula exit. Follow Highway 156 to Castroville/ Highway 1 South. Follow Highway 1 South approximately 18 miles and take the 68 West (Pebble Beach/ Pacific Grove) exit. At the exit, go straight across through the traffic light, then bear right to the Pebble Beach entry gate. After passing through the entry gate, branch left and follow 17-Mile Drive approximately 2.5 miles to Palmero Way. Make a left turn on Palmero Way and follow the signs to the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Approximate Travel Time: 1-1.5 hours

PHONE: 800-694-9300 (web site: pebblebeach.com)

GREEN FEES: $495

OPENED: 1919 (Architects: Douglas Grant and Jack Neville)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,828 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Since 1919, golfers have relished this spectacular ocean side course, considered the greatest public golf course in America, and the site of five U.S. Opens.

The game of golf is at its worldwide best at Pebble Beach Resorts. Whether you are anticipating playing the most exciting closing hole in golf, finally mastering the toughest hole on the PGA Tour or simply relishing walking in the footsteps of golf’s greatest names, Pebble Beach Golf Links is a legend.

The course hugs the rugged coastline, providing wide-open vistas, cliffside fairways and sloping greens.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-5, 543 yards. The 18th hole is a medium length par 5 with Pacific Ocean all along the left. What may be the greatest closing hole in golf was originally an unremarkable par 4. Almost 200 yards was added to the hole in 1922. This unique hole also features a tree in the middle of the fairway and a long 100-plus yard bunker running along the ocean from the green, guarding the left side.

NO. 2 COURSE: THE LINKS AT SPANISH BAY

LOCATION: Pebble Beach, CA

DIRECTIONS: It’s tucked away amid the rocky shores of Carmel. Best bet is to Mapquest from your location, or use GPS.

PHONE: 831-647-7495 (web site: pebblebeach.com/golf/the-links-at-spanish-bay)

GREEN FEES: $260

OPENED: 1987 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,821 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Spanish Bay recalls the original Scottish concept for the game of golf, established over five hundred years ago. This was the intention of the design team, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Watson and Sandy Tatum, in their creation of a true links golf course. Links is an old Scottish word for sandy wasteland, usually near the sea, with bristly grasses and ever prevailing wind. The Links at Spanish Bay are so authentic that even the Monterey coastline mirrors the rugged, natural beauty of Scotland.

The Links at Spanish Bay was also built with a deep respect for environmental preservation. To further continue this mission, the course has designated ‘environmentally sensitive’ areas. Drops are allowed outside of these areas, so we ask for your understanding and cooperation to help us preserve the native plants, birds and animals that make this course so special.

Every evening, a bagpiper closes the course in Scottish tradition.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 1, par-5, 500 yards. Though not an ‘official’ signature hole (there are so many good ones on this course), this par 5 is a spectacular way to start the day. A strong drive to the left center of the fairway makes it possible to reach in two. A firm green is guarded on the left by two large bunkers and the right by marsh and dune. A wise layup shot will avoid the depression on the right of the green.

NO. 3 COURSE: PASATIEMPO

LOCATION: Santa Cruz, CA

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN JOSE: Take Hwy 17 south towards Santa Cruz. exit at Pasatiempo Dr. and turn right on Pasatiempo Dr. after passing the Pasatiempo Inn. Proceed through the gate and stay to the right. Pasatiempo Dr. becomes Clubhouse Rd.; follow up the hill to the clubhouse on the right. Travel time: approximately 45 minutes.

PHONE: 831-459-9155 (web site: pasatiempo.com)

GREEN FEES: Up to $250 plus $30 cart fee per player; $10 pull cart per player

OPENED: 1929 (Architect: Dr. Alister MacKenzie)

LAYOUT: Par 70, 6,500 yards (three tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Pasatiempo Golf Club is a semi-private golf club that makes certain tee times available to the public. It is truly one of the golf gems in the golf-rich Monterey Bay area.

It is ranked No. 11 in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play 2010 and ranked No. 30 in Golf Digest’s 2011-12 America’s Greatest Public Courses. Golf Digest also named Pasatiempo Golf Club as one of the top 3 courses you can play in California (along with Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill). Golf Magazine ranks Pasatiempo No. 66 in the 2011 Top 100 Courses in the U.S. (private and public).

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-4, 387 yards. Alister MacKenzie’s favorite par 4 strikes fear into the hearts of nearly everyone who plays it. A blind tee shot calls for some intelligent planning, precise placement with a draw. Too far left, the ball ends up in a barranca, and too far right is OB. Even the best drive leaves a long, downhill second shot to a three-tiered elevated green, guarded by an array of green side bunkers. Be on target or risk severe penalties; the green rests behind a deep barranca and stream below.

NO. 4 COURSE: CARMEL VALLEY RANCH

LOCATION: Carmel, CA

DIRECTIONS FROM SAN JOSE: Take 101 South to Hwy 156 West (Monterey Peninsula exit), which connects to Highway 1 South. Turn left from Hwy 1 onto Carmel Valley Rd. (at stoplight). Follow Carmel Valley Rd. for approx. 6 miles and take a right onto Robinson Canyon Rd. Follow Robinson Canyon Rd. around the corner and over the bridge. Carmel Valley Ranch is your second left after you cross the bridge.

PHONE: 831-626-2510; 831-620-6406 (web site: carmelvalleyranch.com)

GREEN FEES: Weekdays $85-$185; Weekends $95-$195

OPENED: 1981: (Architect: Pete Dye)

LAYOUT: Par 70, 6,117 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Carmel Valley Ranch Resort stretches from the outskirts of the coastal village of Carmel-by-the-Sea to the heart of the St. Lucia Mountains.

The ideal location enjoys a warmer and less foggy climate than the coast and it being a popular area for wine growing, scenic vineyards accent the beauty of the landscape. The resort boasts a Pete Dye- designed golf course that is known for its playability, which is balanced by interesting challenges. The greens are of average size and many are tiered and undulating.

There are sand bunkers, long, thick rough, and trees throughout but the back nine is particularly challenging since it climbs into the hills. The final half of the course features numerous uphill and downhill lies that play from elevated tees to elevated greens. Water hazards also come into play on several holes at Carmel Valley Ranch Resort.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 11, par-4, 438 yards. This features a huge football-field sized sand trap guarding the left side. Describing the setting, one golfer said ,“Standing on the blue tee box of No. 11 is an awesome sight. You can look out some 450-plus yards over the fairway and green and see the fairway of No. 12, another 300 plus yards, in the distance. The aesthetic beauty of the course is quite memorable.”

NO. 5 COURSE: QUAIL LODGE

LOCATION: Carmel, CA

DIRECTIONS FROM MONTEREY AIRPORT: Exit the airport and turn right on Hwy 68 (Monterey-Salinas Highway). Take Hwy 68 to Hwy 1 South, toward Carmel. Take Hwy 1 south to Carmel. The road narrows after the Ocean Ave. exit. The next light will be Carmel Valley Rd., with two left-turn lanes. Turn left on Carmel Valley Rd. and go 3.5 miles to Valley Greens Dr. A sign for Quail Lodge is on the right. Turn right on Valley Greens Dr/ and you’re there. From San Francisco-San Jose: Take Hwy 101 south to Prunedale. At Prunedale, take Hwy 156 west (there will be a “Monterey Peninsula” sign). At Castroville, stay to the left. The road will become Hwy 1 south. Take Hwy 1 south to Carmel. The road narrows after the Ocean Ave. exit. The next light will be Carmel Valley Rd., with two left-turn lanes. Turn left on Carmel Valley Rd. and go 3.5 miles to Valley Greens Dr. A sign for Quail Lodge is on the right. Turn right on Valley Greens Dr. and you’re there.

PHONE: 831-620-8808 (web site: quaillodge.com)

GREEN FEES: $160-$175 summer; $100-$150 winter; $100-$175 twilight.

OPENED: 1963 (Architect: Robert Muir Graves)

LAYOUT: Par 71, 6,449 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The 18-hole ‘Quail Lodge’ course at the Quail Lodge Golf Club facility in Carmel features 6,515 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 71.9 and it has a slope rating of 126.

Dollar for dollar, Quail Lodge is one of the best values on Monterey Peninsula, and normally 10-20 degrees warmer than the Pebble Courses. It is a good walk, playable course with great resort service and comes highly recommended.

This Resort course is located adjacent to the lush Carmel River and encompasses over 830 acres with alluring valley vistas. The 18-hole championship golf course offers a natural flowing typography with 10 man-made lakes strategically place throughout. Golfers will find a range of holes through the sunny meadows that vary in shape while presenting a traditional feel.

Accuracy is much more important than length, as many holes are short but require precision placement to attack the green. Wildlife is plentiful during an average round at Quail Lodge, where you may encounter quail, hawks, turkeys, deer, fish, turtles and if you’re lucky, even a sly fox.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 17, par-3, 145 yards. Among the most picturesque holes and most challenging on the course. It also rests directly below a ridge that also is the home of famed movie star/singer Doris Day. Water lines the left side, but hitting the ball too far right can put you in a bunker.

- Jim Street