With nearly 20 golf courses to choose from, Monterey California is a golf destination second to none.
When you think of Monterey there are the typical suspects that come to mind, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Spanish Bay. But Cypress is not accessible to the mere mortal and the others are quite expensive and can have access restrictions. But fear not, some of the other contenders in Monterey, Pacific Grove, Fort Ord, and Del Monte are fantastic golf courses in their own right, they just happen to have some of the best golf courses in the world as their neighbor.
I recently had the opportunity to play Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links and would consider it one of the best municipal golf courses in the country. The Pacific Grove Golf Links may not be the most well known, most publicized, or the typical destination spot of golfers that head to Monterey, but it is a gem. Unlike Pebble, Poppy, or Spanish Bay, Pacific Grove is a hidden favorite of the locals. It is fairly priced, in good shape, and provides a nice challenge. It is not the longest course in Monterey, nor is it the hardest. The greatest part of the Pacific Grove experience for me was the fact that the back nine is almost directly on the ocean. For a municipal golf course and paying $62 dollars on a Friday morning, with a golf cart, I was treated to an amazing golf experience.
Pacific Grove tips out at almost 6,000 yards. Although very short by today’s standards, it played much harder than the scorecard would infer. The front nine is a par 35 and starts out with two par threes. There are a few shorter holes scattered in there, and there are two back to back 530-550 yard par fives. Add in a 420 yard par four and you have the idea of the front nine. Some short, some long, some easy, some hard.
The real fun starts on the back nine. This is where the course turns from an inland style golf course, to a links style. The back nine is primarily on the water and there are sand dunes, and some ice plant, both dead and alive, scattered throughout the nine holes. The coastal commission decided that the ice plant is harmful and is on a mission to rid the course of the offensive plant. Anyone that has ever tried to hit out of the ice plant knows its absence allows the back nine to play slightly easier. The wind was fresh off the ocean and affects the play on this nine much more than on the front. The back side is more of a traditional nine holes playing to a par 36: two par threes, two par fives, and five par fours. If the wind is up, the back nine will present more than a fair challenge for even the best of golfers. The design of the course is well thought out and it is obvious the wind patterns are incorporated into the design. The views on the back nine were nothing short of spectacular. It is sometimes hard to focus on the golf game at hand because you are looking at the ocean views, the deer promenading, and the $60 steal on golf you got. There is a reason why this place is often referred to as the poor mans pebble beach, you don’t need to pay a lot to be enriched by this amazing experience.
I would highly recommend Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links. As a former golf professional, I have had the privilege to play some of the greatest golf courses in the world. The experience I had at Pacific Grove is one that I will remember. It is not about the length of the course, or the condition (even though it was in good shape), it was about the experience. The pro shop staff were nice and accommodating, and the shop was very well stocked and in good order. They had a driving range where you could warm up, and even though it only goes to about 200 yards uphill, it was nice to be able to a few shots before heading out to the course. Not to mention the Point Pinos Grill, a pleasant surprise. The staff were on top of their game, the menu was excellent, and the food quality did not disappoint. If you are in the Monterey area and are looking for a great experience, I would suggest Pacific Grove Golf Links. I don’t think you will be disappointed, I wasn’t.