The Monterey Peninsula produces first-rate golf courses the same way New York City breeds artists and musicians, and Rancho Canada Golf Club is no exception. The club is a 36-hole showcase of rolling fairways and greens intersected by the murmuring ripples of the Carmel River. The waterway's origin is obvious as the course unfolds: the entire complex nestles under the green peaks of the Saint Lucia Mountain in the distance.
The longer of the two layouts, the West Course skips over the Carmel River three times, shifting between broad fairways and narrow ones lined with cottonwoods, sycamores, and drivers that were planted in the ground in hope that they would blossom there. The East Course comes into contact with the river on five occasions, and culminates with a finishing hole replete with scenic views of the mountain range. A natural-grass driving range and greens for putting and chipping faciliate pre- or post-round practice. Players can also demo the latest clubs or groom their game in private lessons or group golf clinics.
East Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,125 yards from the tips * Course rating of 69.5 from the tips * Slope rating of 122 from the tips * Three tee options
West Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,357 yards from the tips * Course rating of 70.6 from the tips * Slope rating of 124 from the tips * Three tee options
Laguna Seca Golf Ranch requires action from every club in your bag. The course was designed in 1970 by famed architects Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Robert Trent Jones Jr., and it bears the markings of their creativity. Though the father-son duo didn't emblazon the family crest onto every fairway, they did outfit the championship gauntlet with elevated tees, several water hazards, and a bevy of bunkers to defend every hole. At hole 15, for instance, water swallows solid drives, and at hole 17, five bunkers can prove catastrophic for scores. But golfers don't have to face these challenges unprepared: Laguna Seca also boasts a 13-acre natural-grass practice facility, complete with putting and chipping greens. The ranch also offers visitors a stocked golf shop, dining, and full bar service.
Course at a Glance * 18-hole, par 71 course * Course rating of 70.6 * Course slope of 132 * Total of 6,174 yard from the back tees * Five tees per hole * Click here to view the scorecard
On the gorgeous greens of Pasadera Country Club, associate head golf pro Webster Peterson has improved the game of a wide range of players, including 3-year-olds, 80-year-olds, and rookies who've turned pro and swung their way onto television. His thorough teaching technique begins with stroke development and tactical strategy, ensuring that players have the fundamentals down pat before they start serving and slamming. Lessons are for all ages and skill levels, and students don't have to be members of the Pasadera club to learn under Webster's racket.
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:
18-hole, par 72 course designed by Robert Trent Jones II
Length of 6,857 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 74.3 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 144 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
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.