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.
The name Planet Gemini would imply that this club has two sides to it, but that's not quite accurate. There are at least three. Since opening Planet Gemini more than 20 years ago, the Lane brothers?Frankie and Anthony?have built a venue that functions as a comedy club, a live-music space, and a full-service restaurant. Each night, the club transforms into something new: on Tuesday, Frankie, a master chef, puts together a menu of homemade Italian food as Anthony croons classic Italian songs; Wednesday and Sunday are dance nights, with Latin bands taking the stage as the audience dances the pachanga, merengue, and salsa; and Thursday is for karaoke, during which professional lighting and sound make amateurs feel like rock stars or a circus tiger.
On Friday and Saturday night, however, the music gives way to laughter, as the stage is reserved for a rotation of nationally touring comedians. Although Planet Gemini is mostly known for featuring up-and comers?many of whom have been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, and other national programming?they've also had the good fortune to host famous funny men such as George Lopez and Jimmy Fallon.
From its post on the lux, waterfront grounds of the Portola Hotel & Spa, Peter B's Brewpub carries on a tradition of crowd-pleasing lunches and dinners, deftly-shaken cocktails, and house-brewed craft beers. Surrounded by pool-players and 18 HD televisions, or by dogs and centaurs out on the pet-friendly patio, patrons chow down on a satisfying slew of entrees. Lunches and dinners include grilled Bavette steaks, Reuben sandwiches, and hearty Caesar salads?to say nothing of the pizzas heaped with Dungeness crab, or the fried-artichoke appetizers.
But for all its friendly atmospheric touches, its sophisticated comfort food, and its tony location, Peter B's is really about the beer. Dry palates can savor plenty of local craft brews, either on their own or in beer cocktails. Just how local are these local brews? They hail from just a few feet away, because they?re concocted in Peter B's on-site brewery. Its massive tanks host hops and malt as they transform into signature Peter B's libations, such as Belly Up Blonde Ale and Stout Resistance.
Meaning ?food? in Italian, cibo is not the only thing Cibo Ristorante Italiano provides. Dinner guests can slide behind a white-clothed table and soak in the eatery's relaxing ambiance of sunflower-yellow walls and loft ceilings spangled with artwork of all mediums?sculptures, photography, paintings, hand-blown glass, and even the sound waves of jazz music. The restaurant?s musicians take the stage six nights per week during dinner service, serenading guests as they enjoy the menu?s selection of homemade pasta dishes, as well as crisp pizzas?topped with everything from housemade sausage and imported cheese to spicy short ribs and potatoes. They also serve an array of hearty Italian entrees, including roasted free-range chicken over creamy polenta and grilled jumbo prawns and sea scallops with roasted-pepper couscous. Cibo's servers can suggest one of their many Italian and Californian wines to pair with the meal, or guests can enjoy a small-batch scotch.
In order to emulate the eco-friendly attitude of the LEED-certified Portola Hotel and Spa that surrounds it, Jack's Restaurant and Lounge regularly culls regional, sustainable ingredients for its contemporary takes on breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. With the help of Chef Jason Giles' culinary imagination, Jack's adds innovative flavors to items such as naturally raised beef from Harris Ranch and seafood chosen in support of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, which helps to prevent over-fishing of threatened and endangered ocean life. Small plates of baked scallops lounge on the half-shell, while waiters usher basil-crusted Pacific sole to tables on the heated patio surrounded by edible velvet ropes. Wines poured at the lounge highlight the vineyards and wineries of Monterey County, and fair-trade organic coffees and teas are sourced from Peerless Coffee Company, a Northern California staple for more than 86 years.
As the vineyard manager for Carmel Ridge Winery, Paul Stokes prefers to let nature take its course. He and his team intervene in the grapes' growth as little as possible, instead allowing the weather and the grapes themselves to let them know when to prune and pick. They also let the flavors of the soil seep into the vines, enhancing the grapes' character and flavor nuances. The winery's resident winemaker, Lynn Sakasegawa Stokes, is decidedly more hands-on when the fruit reaches her; she transfers the pressings to small lots of barrels for fermentation. Even then, the barrels are filled by a gravity-based flow system rather than by mechanical pumps—a system invented by Isaac Newton when he brewed his own small-batch cider—so the grapes maintain their earthy taste.