I originally played Spanish Bay in 1996 and came away with favourable impressions which have stayed with me over the years...
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr with Sandy Tatum and Tom Watson, the course is sited on brilliant golfing land in an old sand mining area on the Monterey coast just north of Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. The site contains vast expanses of exposed sand, a spectacular coastline, undulating sandy terrain, and tracts of pine trees as well. The site was formerly a sand mine and as part of the redevelopment the Pebble Beach Company had to reconstruct the dunesland, bringing in truckloads of sand.
They did a good job, because it is hard to imagine much better golfing land....
The course routing is inspired, taking you directly to beach and a succession of real links holes, and then back through the pine trees and rolling terrain, negotiating dips and gullies, and then back out to the sea and into linksland to finish. Clearly the architectural team aimed to provide for the running ball. This is not the target golf we are used to in the USA. The greens and surrounds are firm and fast, reminscent of the great links courses in Scotland. If I were to be critical I would argue that the greens have a little too much movement in places, given their firmness, and when the wind blows they can provide just too stern a test...
One of the strengths of Spanish Bay is the routing- a round initially takes you into some ripping links holes, then into marshland, then in to the mighty Monterey Pines, and then back out again into the linksland. Not too many courses around the world offer such a diverse experience!
Favourite holes include:
-The par 3, third hole- nestled in the dunes, with the Inn as a backdrop.
- the par 3 eighth hole- you need an accurate iron over the marsh to a heavily bunkered green.
- the par 5 tenth hole- a hole to suit the thinking golfer!. Framed by the Monterey Pines, and strategically bunkered, staying on the fairway is not as easy as it sounds...
- the par 4 twelfth hole- requires a long accurate tee shot, and then a longish accurate approach over a gully.
- the short par 3, thirteenth hole is Spanish Bay's 'postage stamp'
- the par 5 fourteenth hole- a nice par 5 which takes you back to the sea, and has a wonderful skyline green to welcome you
Overall I enjoyed Spanish Bay.
The Inn at Spanish Bay is a lovely place to stay and a great base for a golfing trip to the Monterey Peninsula. The Links at Spanish Bay is a beautifully maintained course in a gorgeous setting. It is a good course, if not a great one- but it makes for a nice warm up to the main event- playing Pebble Beach!
Other Courses in the Area
The Monterey Peninsula is famous for the quality and beauty of it's golf and has a mixture of wonderful private courses and popular resort and public access courses. While the private Cypress Point Club and Monterey Peninsula Country Club are played by the fortunate few, travellers staying in the Pebble Beach Resort can pre book games at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill as well as The Links at Spanish Bay. Also available to the public is the ever popular Poppy Hills designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr.
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a Golf Trip to Pebble Beach Resort to suit your group. Suggested add on destinations include: Bandon Dunes Resort, Pelican Beach Resort, Las Vegas & Hawaii
For further information on Golf Tours to Pebble Beach Resort please enquire here:
Photos are courtesy of Pebble Beach Company