Looking back down the 4th Great views looking down the 11th16th green protected by water
Five minutes down the road from Carmel Valley Ranch you have Quail Lodge – a course that has its own little bit of history. This is the place that Bobby Clampett grew up on and where Doris Day’s beautiful home looks down on the 17th green and 18th tee. The designer was Robert Muir Graves. I’m fortunate enough to play with Ross Kroeker, the head pro, and it emerges that his uncle owned the construction company that undertook the building of this course.
It’s not long before Clampett is the topic of conversation. I discover that when tournaments were played at Pebble Beach a lot of the top pros of the 1960s and 70s used to stay and practice at Quail Lodge. A young Bobby Clampett, who used to live on the course, would help collect practice balls for the likes of Arnold Palmer and eventually went on to play professionally.
If you fancy getting out of your cart for once, this is the track that you can do that on. There are not too many hills and the temperature here today is hot but not unpleasantly so. The course offers three teeing options ranging from 6,449 to 5,478. Standing on the first tee you really do get a sense of what is to come. Although the course is pretty flat there are a lot of tight driving holes and with the hill and trees on your left and the road on your right, anything on the fairway is a great shot.
Quail lodge is very much another strategic course and putting the ball in the right areas on the fairway and greens is a premium here. But there are a couple of quirky holes, the 14th and 15th, which are back-to-back par-5 dogleg lefts, taking you round in a full circle similar to the ying and yang symbol. To reach these in two shots you really need to be in the right area and be able to manoeuvre the ball from right to left. But if you play it as a three-shotter you will still have a good chance at back-to-back birdies, which on a medal round would come in very handy on the finishing stretch.
My favourite run is from the ninth to the 12th. The ninth is more like a right turn than a dogleg right (the 16th is also another right-turn designed hole) and is another three-shot par-5. The 10th and 11th get the back nine off to a great start, with both running through a funnel of trees with hills to the right. There are some great views from both tees.
The 10th has a tree some 150 yards out cutting into the left side of the fairway. Ross says I won’t need a driver as it’s not that long a hole, that I should just get it on the fairway and have a short iron in. So I promptly smash my 2-iron into the overhanging branches and have another long iron in! The 11th is a great driving hole and when you hear the sound of the club head hitting the back of the ball echoing round the trees, and the sun is shining, you appreciate that holes and days like these make golf so much fun.