Designed by 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples, San Juan Oaks Golf Club showcases an 18-hole course that arches across 7,133 yards of San Juan Valley terrain. On the front nine, golfers test their mettle at one of Freddy's favorite holes, the 204-yard, par-3 sixth hole, where tee shots must speed through swirling winds and trees wielding catchers’ mitts to land on a green guarded by oak and eucalyptus trees. The back nine rolls through the valley’s foothills, regaling golfers with frequent elevation changes and back-to-back tees—at 16 and 17—that offer stunning views of the surrounding area. The course frequently draws top-flight golfers and is a Stage-One site of the PGA Tour's Qualifying School.
Before taking to the first tee, golfers can warm up at the club’s practice facilities, which include a 15-acre, all-grass driving range, a 10,000-square-foot putting green, and an area for chipping and bunker shots. Elegant, high-beamed ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace await golfers and underfed 9-irons at the restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch.
Course at a Glance:
Home to household names like Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, the Monterey Bay area can rightfully claim a place among the world’s top golf regions. The 36-hole complex at Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course hosted the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship and bolsters the coastal locale’s reputation for world-class links, boasting both a rich historic legacy—Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, and Tom Watson have all graced the Bayonet course—and a recent redesign from famed course architect Gene Bates, which earned both courses a spot on Golf Digest’s Top 10 Course Remodels of 2009.
The older of the two courses, Bayonet Golf Course was originally sculpted through the cypress trees of the since-closed Fort Ord Military Base in 1954 by the Army's Commanding Officer General Robert McClure. Measuring in at 7,104 yards from the tips, the course still captures McClure’s original vision, with a classic, tree-lined layout and several dog-leg lefts the General cunningly installed to favor his left-handed fade off the tee. Gene Bates’ recent design contributions are apparent in the layout’s clusters of creative bunkering, reshaped greens, and areas where trees have been cleared to allow for greater views of the Monterey Peninsula.
Bates also made sweeping alterations to Black Horse Golf Course, changing the layout from its tree-lined, 1964 design into a more open counterpart to Bayonet’s cypress-, pine-, and oak-ensconced fairways. In addition, Bates carpeted the entire 7,024-yard course with new, smooth-rolling bent grass, while revamping the irrigation to provide for more meticulous playing conditions. The remodeling efforts afford many sweeping views that populate the course, but especially the one golfers’ encounter on the newly-added, 224-yard, par three 15th hole, where an elevated tee looks out onto a horizon dominated by the Pacific Ocean.
Cleaved through the tall pines of the Del Monte Forest, Poppy Hills Golf Course's 18-hole layout blankets the scenic terrain of the Monterey Peninsula with a 6,857 trail of meticulously manicured fairways and greens. Designed by renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones II, Poppy Hills has hosted many high-profile golf events, including co-hosting the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991 to 2009, a 19-year span during which Bill Murray never left.
Named one of California's Top 10 Courses You Can Play, Poppy Hills gives casual golfers a chance to test their mettle on a world-class course—the 426-yard fifth hole was rated the most difficult par four in PGA Tour play in 2006—with four tee options that make it surmountable for golfers of all stripes. Though its known for its woodland scenery and large, undulating greens, the par 72 course also features water hazards that come into play on two holes, gobbling up golf balls and serving as a convenient vacation spot for fish trying to spend a weekend away from the Pacific.
Course at a Glance:
Pristine fairways gently rise and fall across 6,664 yards of undulating terrain at Pajaro Valley Golf Club's 18-hole course. Located a mere Goliath's drive from the Pacific Ocean, golfers can smell the crisp sea air and hear the hushed whispers of heist-planning pelicans throughout the picturesque par 72, once the verdant kingdom of 1930s golf legend Olin Dutra. The club’s E-Z-Go golf carts ferry about the arsenal of woods and irons needed to triumph over the transition from shorter par 3s and 4s to the lengthy fairways at the 1st, 4th, 15th, and 17th holes, all par 5.
After looping the horticultural haven, golfers can retreat to the club's full-service restaurant, where frothy beers and hamburgers refuel weary bodies and famished 9-irons. Spiky-shoed journeymen can place their order ahead of time at the 9th or 18th tees, ensuring their meal will be ready for them at the turn or shortly after the round.
In 1959, Bob and Jean Sanford and their four children could be found tending to livestock and avocado trees on the site that Casserly Golf Course now rests. But six years later, the family took the ranch into a different direction, and Bob and his three sons laid an irrigation system and began to sculpt the earth into a 9-hole, par-three golf course, which they opened in 1966. Today, Bob and Jean's son Rod runs the course, which offers two distinct sets of tees so golfers can play an 18-hole round without having to erase their memory in-between nines. The original barn still stands as a relic of the course's half-century history.