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!
Running 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.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
This is a tough tee shot with a forced carry. The longer you are the further right you can aim.
Notice 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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
While 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.