Pasatiempo Golf Club – Played 2013
- Rankings: Golf Digest Public #24, Golf Magazine #53, Golf Magazine Public #13
- Location: 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz, California
- Year: 1929
- Architects: Dr. Alister MacKenzie & Marion Hollins
- Course Access: Public
- Walking Rules: Carts Available
Score Card Information:
- Championship: 6,500 yards, Par 70, 72.4 Rating/143 Slope
- Middle: 6,125 yards, Par 70, 70.8 Rating/135 Slope
- Forward: 5,685 yards, Par 72, 68.9 Rating/130 Slope
Pasatiempo was a course I happened upon when reading Top 100 Public Courses lists. I have since heard it raved about by many in the golf media. It is currently ranked #24 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public. The name of the course translates to hobby or pastime.
The development of the course involved a dream team of the time. Marion Hollins, the 1921 US Women’s Amateur champion, collaborated with Dr. MacKenzie to design and develop the course. Hollins was a very interesting woman. She was a developer, entrepreneur, and athlete in a time when that was not at all common for women. She was a true trailblazer! I think Dr. MacKenzie’s reputation speaks for itself. That will happen when you design places such as Augusta National, Cypress Point, and Crystal Downs. Something you may notice from that list is that they are all private. Pasatiempo provides a great public opportunity to play one of the great doctor’s courses.
In 1996 Tom Doak was commissioned with restoring the old gem. He worked on it until the fall of 2007. The slow process allowed the course to stay open during the construction, something I am sure all the players really appreciated.
Pasatiempo was the second and last golf stop on my California excursion. I had a 7:30 tee time and didn’t get a chance to hit balls. Who needs it when you are raring to go? I was paired with an employee of the club, which allowed for some great insight into the course. Once again, my wife took the photos of this great course.
There are three teeing options at 6,521, 6,125, and 5,656 yards. I decided to play the middle set of tees, which played to a par of 70. My playing partner mentioned that the course would play longer than the stated yardage.
Hole 1 – 440 yards – Par 4
The course tests you right from the start. This two-shotter plays quite a bit downhill so you will get some roll on your tee shot.
Hole 2 – 420 yards – Par 4
The second is another long hole, but again the tee shot is aided by the downhill slope. A drive down the middle with a little cut works best here.
The first short hole was really anything but. It played about a club longer than the card said, but we caught a break since the flag was in the front. It was at this point that my playing partner mentioned that Pasatiempo does not ease you into the round. No kidding!
Finally a little breather! A 225 yard shot down the middle here is all you need.
The fifth hole is a great par three. The green allows for a multitude of pin placements. Yet again, massive greenside bunkers frame this hole. The front right side has a big false front to note when the flag is placed on that side.
The first par 5 is right out in front of you. A tee shot played on a line just right of the fairway bunker in the distance will leave a good angle.
The sixth hole has a piece of history associated with it. It is on this hole that Dr. MacKenzie lived until his death. His home is very close to the edge of the hole and is noted with a plaque as seen below.
The tee shot, seen here, plays slightly uphill through some mature trees. It had the effect of making me concentrate to hit the fairway. A 200 yard shot up the middle will leave a straight forward second shot.
This hole is a great downhill one-shotter. You can see a big slope on the left side of the green. You can take my word for it that you do not want to be chipping from the left side to this flag. My double bogey is proof!
The ninth hole bends slightly to the right. A good line is at the players in the distance. This one can be reached in two.
The green is relatively shallow. Since it’s an older course, this green was meant to accept wedges, not woods and hybrids. It also has a ridge in the middle of the green, just beyond the flag seen here.
The tenth is another uphill shot. A well struck tee shot will easily clear the ravines.
The approach shot into 10 plays really downhill after the peak with your tee ball. Note the massive front greenside bunker. This is another deep one.
The eleventh plays up another hill. Are you starting to see a trend here?
The approach is up a steep hill. My playing partner mentioned this would be the longest 379 yard hole I would ever play. He was right, I hit 3 wood from 195 yards out of the rough, so it was about a four club hill. The players on the right are on the green.
Aha! A downhill par 4, just what I needed. According to my partner, at the annual college tournament held here they make this side of the hole out of bounds. I was a little confused. He said that since 11 and 12 run parallel, players would try and hit huge cuts down 11 and try to hit the green. He said it goes back to Tiger when he played at Stanford. This is a crazy tee shot to try. Think about this if you get a chance to play it. For us mere mortals, a hybrid down the fairway mowing line is all you really need here.
The thirteenth hole bends to the left. A good line is just right of the fairway bunker.
The tee shot here is straightforward. A shot at the tall trees in the distance will work just fine.
The fifteenth is a delightful short par 3. Just because it is short, don’t think that it’s a pushover. The bunkering is extensive and there is a hazard along the left side, short of the green, and long.
This is one of the course’s iconic holes. I haven’t seen a fairway that is domed like this one. A good line is up the left side at the tallest tee. Balls hit too far right will run out of fairway.
This is a straightforward hole. However, if you hit it too far up the right it can go down a hill and there is a cart path there. This is only an issue if you pound the driver.
Pasatiempo is different from many highly rated courses in that in finishes with a par 3. I like the break from tradition. The hole is downhill over a sprawling hazard.
Pasatiempo was a phenomenal golf course. I am not an architecture expert, but the construction of the holes to me was very memorable. If this course was on the ocean, it would be on the every Top 100 list. As I mentioned, the bunkering was extraordinary. They posed real hazards and were in the exact places they needed to be. They framed fairways and greens perfectly.
The club itself is low-key. It was a small clubhouse and it was very relaxed. I have heard good things about the Hollins House for food, but I didn’t get a chance to get in there. Overall, the day was great. I had great insight from my employee playing partner, my wife taking pictures, and 18 great holes in two and a half hours. Days on the golf course don’t get much better than that.