The Links at Spanish Bay

The Links at Spanish Bay – Played June 2016

  • Rankings: Golf Digest Public #60, Golf Magazine Public #42
  • Location: 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, California
  • Year: 1987
  • Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Sandy Tatum, & Tom Watson
  • Course Access: Resort
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Blue: 6,821 yards, Par 72, 74.0 Rating/140 Slope
  • Gold: 6,422 yards, Par 72, 72.1 Rating/136 Slope
  • White: 6,043 yards, Par 72, 70.4 Rating/128 Slope
  • Red: 5,332 yards, Par 72, 72.7 Rating/128 Slope

6:10 AM?  That was my question when I was booking the tee time.  I said early, but I didn’t know tee times went that early.  They certainly don’t at home.  But hey, I figured I would be first off and get a quick round by myself.  Well guess what?  I did both, but I was not by myself.  As a great stroke of luck I was paired with two guys from the Chicagoland area.  They were gregarious and fun to play with.  We played very quickly as well.  That is a combination you cannot beat.

The first leg of my second California sojourn brought me to The Links at Spanish Bay.  The course is somewhat overlooked while in this area, but that is a grave mistake.  The course is in excellent condition and has some of the best conditioned greens at the resort.

Per the course website, the intention of the designers was to hearken back to the Scottish roots of the game in links golf.  With sandy soil running along the coast the course does a pretty good job.  To further the connection a bagpiper closes each day.  The other goal of the course was environmental preservation.  There are many protected areas throughout the course with free drops allowed.

The scenery and experience at Spanish Bay is top notch.  Let’s get into it!

LSB - ScoreAbove is the beautiful scorecard.  Below is the view of the clubhouse from the putting green.  It’s early so it was just me, my playing partners, and a few staff.

LSB 1-1Running along the first hole is the Inn at Spanish Bay.  I am sure it has wonderful accommodations.  I will make one note about the staff here.  They were all very welcoming for being so early in the morning.  A special shout out to Zoli for getting us started.  He’s a young guy getting started in the industry and he was great.

LSB 1-2We decided to take on the course from the gold tees.  Let’s start the tour.

Hole 1 – 495 yards – Par 5

The first tee shot eases you into the round.  The fairway is wide and the only trouble is the bunker up the left.  If you keep it to the right of that you are in great shape.

LSB 1-3The second looks like you are playing right into the ocean.  The green doesn’t have much behind it creating this effect.

LSB 1-4Here is a little closer look.

LSB 1-5From this angle you can see the undulations in the green.  Look at that dip on the right!  Sorry for the grainy pictures.  I think the camera was working fine it was just a little overcast for the day.

LSB 1-6Hole 2 – 300 yards – Par 4

This is a short hole, but it played longer due to the uphill.  I also had to factor in that I was at sea level so the ball doesn’t go as far as it does at home.  A good play is to hit something 200 at the bunker you see in the fairway.

LSB 2-1Below is a look at the uphill approach shot.

LSB 2-2This green had a lot of slope in it as well.  I must say here that the greens were running pretty quick and very smooth.  The pin is on top of a ridge and there is another one on the back right side of the green.

LSB 2-3Hole 3 – 340 yards – Par 4

The trouble off this tee is the sand down the left.  You have options here.  You could hit something 200 yards to the right of the bunkers or take driver and aim further left.  I will let you decide.

LSB 3-1This approach shot is all in front of you.  It goes slightly downhill and sits at an angle to the fairway.

LSB 3-2I loved the sloping in these greens.  Most of it is on the periphery of this green, but you have a ridge also going through the green.

LSB 3-3Hole 4 – 176 yards – Par 3 

This hole plays longer than the yardage.  The green is multi-tiered with the trouble to the left.  I liked the overall look of this hole with the sandy bank behind it.

LSB 4-1Here is a shot of the green.  You can see the slopes around the flag and to the left of it.

LSB 4-2Hole 5 – 411 yards – Par 4

This is a demanding hole from the tee.  The lay of the land dictates a fade off the middle of the fairway.  If you can pull that off you will be in great shape.

LSB 5-1The second shot plays to an open green surrounded by dunes.  Long is no good here.

LSB 5-2The green is two-tiered as you can see below.  Club selection is crucial here to have a makeable putt.

LSB 5-3Hole 6 – 390 yards – Par 4

There is plenty of sand out there to distract you, but the focus should be on putting your drive right in the middle of the bunkers.

LSB 6-1The second shot is back up the hill a little bit.  If you avoid the front bunker you are in pretty good shape.

LSB 6-2Hole 7 – 412 yards – Par 4

From this tee you need a solid, straight drive.  This hole is longer than most we have seen so far.  In this light it is tough to pick targets.

LSB 7-1You can see below that there is a hazard crossing the fairway.  The shot into the green is open is you come into the left side of the green.  There is a bunker guarding the front right side.

LSB 7-2Here is a look at the green.  Compared to what we have seen so far there isn’t a ton of slope.

LSB 7-3Hole 8 – 152 yards – Par 3 

The tee shot here is intimidating.  It is not overly long, but it is all carry.  The green is quite wide, but very shallow.  If you miss the green by a little you will be in the sand.  If you miss by a lot you will be getting another ball out of your bag!

LSB 8-1Here is a closer look.

LSB 8-2The green is seen below.  The pin is positioned at the top of a plateau that isn’t very big.

LSB 8-3The photo below gives you a great representation of the plateau.  You can also see the slope on the far right side of the green.

LSB 8-4Hole 9 – 367 yards – Par 4

The front nine finishes with an uphill hole with trouble all down the right side.  The right side is bordered by an environmentally protected area so make sure you don’t go in there looking for golf balls.

LSB 9-1After a good drive you shouldn’t have too much left into the green.  The putting surface is elevated compared to the fairway.

LSB 9-2From the view below you can see that the green is quite large.  It also has the ever-present slope on both sides.

LSB 9-3Hole 10 – 477 yards – Par 5 

The back nine starts you out with a very reachable par 5.  The tee shot is a little difficult with the fairway angling away from you on the tee.  The further right you can go the less distance you will have for your second shot.

LSB 10-1The hole bends back slightly left towards the green.  If you choose to go for it you will need to carry the middle bunkers as these are difficult long bunker shots.

LSB 10-2Here is a look from a popular third shot distance.  If you come into the left side of the green with a lot of spin you risk sucking the ball right back off of the green.

LSB 10-3Below you can see the big ridge on the left side of the photo.  Putts going down this are extremely quick.

LSB 10-4Hole 11 – 353 yards – Par 4

This hole is on the shorter side.  Your main obstacles are the three trees on the right.  If you avoid those and the bunker you will have a good approach to the green.

LSB 11-1This green is like a tabletop sitting higher than everything else around it.  You can see the bunker is well below the putting surface.

LSB 11-2The green is also a bit of a turtle shell shape.  You can see that it runs off on all sides.  This is somewhat reminiscent of Pinehurst #2’s greens.

LSB 11-3Hole 12 – 421 yards – Par 4

This hole didn’t play as long as the yardage or our tees were up.  We were advised against hitting driver, but I went with it anyway.  You run out of room quickly up the left side.  Your ideal line is over the left tee marker you see ahead.

LSB 12-1This is the view from the left side of the fairway.  There is some room between the hazard and the putting surface.

LSB 12-2This two-tiered green presents plenty of challenges.  You can find some slick putts here.

LSB 12-3Hole 13 – 119 yards – Par 3 

I do love a short par 3.  Call it the Coore & Crenshaw enthusiast in me.  This hole is no exception and I loved it.  You absolutely need to hit the green because difficult up and downs await everywhere else.

LSB 13-1This is a great green complex.  It is small and properly protects the short hole.  There is not much space to land it around the pin seen here.  Anything a little left from this point of view will roll off the green.

LSB 13-2Hole 14 – 546 yards – Par 5 

For me this hole is not reachable.  The line here is at the lone bunker you can see just left of center.  You can hit all you have on this tee box.

LSB 14-1The second shot plays down the slope and you can somewhat make out the green down there.

LSB 14-2From here it is nothing but a wedge shot.  There is really no trouble with a short iron in your hand.  Go flag hunting!

LSB 14-3Below are views of the green complex.

LSB 14-4

LSB 14-5Hole 15 – 372 yards – Par 4

This is a tough tee shot with a forced carry.  The longer you are the further right you can aim.

LSB 15-1The approach must contend with a hazard as well.  Two bunkers guard the left side of the green.  If you get to the center of the green you will be quite happy.

LSB 15-2Notice the runoff on the left towards the bunker.  There is also another mound to the right of the pin.  I liked the challenge of putting on these greens.  You were almost always better off if you hit to the center of the greens instead of chasing pins.

LSB 15-3Hole 16 – 191 yards – Par 3 

This is not a flashy hole, but it is still stout in its challenge.  We caught a break with the left pin.  With the flag on the right side we would have faced a much more difficult shot.  There isn’t too much trouble here.

LSB 16-1And from a little zoomed-in.

LSB 16-2The view from just short of the putting surface shows the big ridge in the middle of the green.

LSB 16-3Hole 17 – 376 yards – Par 4

All you need here is a straight one.  You can take less than driver for accuracy if needed.  The real challenge here is on the second shot.

LSB 17-1The approach plays to a greatly elevated green.  It is a large target, but trouble awaits off the edges.

LSB 17-2Here is the putting surface that sits close to the surf.

LSB 17-3Here is a look back down the hole to show you the proximity to the ocean.

LSB 17-4Hole 18 – 524 yards – Par 5 

The final hole gives you a good birdie opportunity.  The line is over the man in blue.  You can hit it as hard as you want.  Go big or go home.

LSB 18-1If you decide to go for it you can go the short way up the left, but there is hazard over there.  The higher percentage play is something up the fairway on the right.

LSB 18-2There is a lot of slope around this flag and throughout the green.  You need to control your spin to keep it close to this pin.  The slope is mostly back to front.  This particular flag is sitting on a plateau.

LSB 18-3While this course is certainly not as spectacular as Pebble Beach, it is a fun round of golf.  It asks you to hit multiple shots.  The greens were very good, which to me is a big piece of whether or not I like a golf course.  The service was excellent as was the company for the round.  The Monterey Peninsula never seems to disappoint.

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9 thoughts on “The Links at Spanish Bay

  1. Jimmy,

    This brings back good memories of the Monterey Peninsula! Spanish Bay is one of those courses I’m dying to say I love, because it’s so beautiful, has a lot of good holes, but there are still enough holes I dislike to prevent me from saying the “L” word. Having said that, I would never turn down a chance to play there (for a third time), or anywhere on the Peninsula for that matter. Beth and I got married on a beach just down the road (across from Spyglass)…good memories around there. Good pics and thanks for the review!

    I also love eating at Spanish Bay, whether on the patio or saddled up to the bar, or at one of their other great restaurants on the property. We go out of our way to go there even if we aren’t playing golf there!


      1. I love the opening few holes, the par 3 over water (8th?), and most of the closing stretch back towards the ocean except for 18 which I’m not a fan of. The other holes I find kind of blah (like that par 5 back in the trees – 10th?), or too penal off the tee for most golfers since you’re either in the fairway or lost in those protected areas.

        You said something about free drops, is that a new local rule?

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