Top Heading out to sea at the 12th. Above The par 3 17th over water and teeing offt on Sunset Drive
Sunseting from behind the 13thLooking back up the 16th hole18th stunning views of the Pacific
This venue may be known locally as ‘the poor man’s Pebble Beach’ but I realise that the only relationship it shares with the latter course is that some holes run along the Pacific Ocean, and if you don’t get one of the early tee times you could be in for a very long day similar, I’m told, to the five- hour rounds that go on at Pebble. The bonus here is that you’re not paying the $500 Pebble Beach charge!
The only thing that separates the holes on the back nine from the beach is Sunset Drive and I can see how that road could live up to its name – it must be a beautiful time of day to drive down that road. I team up with Roger and John who run their own pool business and have plenty of stories that keep me entertained along the way – that and watching the seagulls and ravens raid their buggy in a vain search for scraps while the guys are putting out on the 10th and 11th holes.
Two different individuals designed the course. H Chandler Egan designed the front nine in 1932 and Jack Neville designed the back nine in 1960. It’s not the longest course but it’s fun and this is the emotional reaction I receive from most people when you talk about this track. As I go round I can see the course isn’t in the greatest of condition. But like most greens I’ve played on this trip, these were firm and true. It’s not until you get to the back nine that this track comes into its own and you can see why people talk about it so much.
You’ll hear so many times when you are in the States that the course is based on a Scottish links, and when you get out there you find that they are not like a links course at all. But the back nine and especially the run of holes from the 11th to 16th can be truly said to resemble the links holes you’d find in Britain and Ireland. I didn’t play the course in a strong wind, but one look at the trees and the direction they grow and you can see how the gales must whip in off the Pacific, making this a tough test.
Standout holes for me have to be the 310-yard seventh and the back nine. It’s a bit of a shame that I play it on a misty grey day because it’s clearly a fun course. When you’re sitting in the venue’s Point Pinos Grill enjoying a cold drink and one of their speciality burgers, it’ll most certainly be with a smile on your face – as long as you got out early, that is!
Unfortunately it was raining on the day I played so I couldn't take any photos or video. These images are courtesy of Pacific Grove Golf Links