In Southern California, between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, there is a lesser-known region that offers some of the finest affordable golf in the United States. That region is Ventura County, and the courses include Buenaventura, Olivas Links, Rustic Canyon, and Soule Park. Last week, my dad and I played all four of these courses, and not once did we pay a green fee over $35.
First, if I were you, I would go to the Oregon coast instead. But if you have already been to Bandon Dunes, or if you have an “in” at Cypress Point, or if you simply yearn to check Pebble Beach off your bucket list, then come to Monterey. There is plenty of good golf here.
The Gist: Overshadowed by more famous holes on more dramatic sections of the property, the subtle 2nd at Pasatiempo Golf Club may actually be one of the best examples anywhere of Alister MacKenzie’s design philosophy.
Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz, CA)
- 437/420/376 yards
- Par 4
- 8/8/6 handicap
Oh, I can just hear the Twitterati clicking the reply bubble: “Well, sir, the 2nd is not even one of the top five holes at Pasa! What of the 3rd or the 11th? Or the 16th, which was Dr. MacKenzie’s personal favorite par 4?”
A review of The 1997 Masters: My Story by Tiger Woods with Lorne Rubenstein
- March 20, 2017
- Grand Central Publishing
When Tiger Woods won the Masters by 12 strokes in 1997, I was 13 years old, and I had already been obsessed with golf for a couple of years. My favorite players were Ben Crenshaw, Corey Pavin, and Steve Stricker. As I watched Tiger shoot 65 on Saturday, however, I realized that the guys I rooted for were in trouble. This 21 year-old, with his cool, austere clothes and his wiry power, was Google, and they were AltaVista.
This past weekend, as Brooks Koepka overwhelmed Erin Hills on his way to a three-stroke victory in the U.S. Open, golf obsessives on Twitter debated whether the venue was any good and, more interestingly, whether the tournament could use a new identity. Beneath all of the bellyaching and inexplicable rage, there was actually an engaging discussion.
- Aetna Springs Golf Course
- Pope Valley, CA
- Par 35, 3057 Yards
- Opened in 1891, redesigned by Tom Doak with Jim Urbina in 2006
UPDATE: On January 14, 2018, just seven months after I posted this review, Aetna Springs Golf Course ceased operations.
I first heard about Aetna Springs Golf Course, a nine-holer in the northern reaches of Napa County, in volume two of Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. He rated it a 6 on the Doak Scale (by comparison, he gave TPC Harding Park, future host of the PGA Championship, a 5) and wrote, “there are a lot of good holes for such a little piece of property; it’s a lovely place to go and play.” Doak’s firm also happens to have redesigned the course, so my first thought was, What shameless self-promotion. My second thought: Hey, that’s pretty close to where my in-laws live.
I don’t get to play Tom Doak courses very often, much less for $23 per nine.