During a recent bucket list trip to play Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, we wanted to play a few other local courses. The caddie at Spyglass recommended Carmel Valley Ranch. It’s located in a resort community and is a beautiful and challenging course.
When you arrive at the gate the guard tells you to follow the road to the pyramid club house. It is a beautiful clubhouse and clearly an upscale resort. The carts have water and towels for your use and golf balls are provided on the driving range conveniently located by the club house.
We played from the Lavender tees (5230 yards) to challenge ourselves but the forward tees are 4433 and would be challenging and fun too! It’s interesting that the forward tees are white (not red), I think this is a very clever move on the part of the golf course. Red tees have such a “stigma” as “ladies tees.” We played with an older gentlemen who played from the white tees and had no issue with the tees being forward.
The photo slideshow below displays the view from the first tee, the cute “tree with swing” logo of the club, the 13th hole (downhill par 3), Vineyard views, deer watching us hit our drivers, wild turkeys ignoring us, and a view of the beautiful pyramid club house from the 18th tee box.
The golf rates on the website are high $210 for “outside guests” but go to GolfNow for a great deal. We booked with GolfNow for $98.00 (included cart, etc.). So if plan a trip to play golf in the Carmel area, look for the deals and play Carmel Valley Ranch.
When you arrive at Pacific Grove it appears to be like any other municipal course. The Pro Shop staff if friendly, the driving range is actually pretty small and you hit off mats, the putting and chipping area is conveniently located by the first tee. It’s when you get on the course you realize what a great value it is to play because you have the front nine in the forest and the back nine on the ocean.
They call Pacific Grove “the poor man’s pebble” but I would say it is more like Spyglass Hill which has a portion of the course on the ocean and other holes in the forest. As of this writing the green fee (with cart) during the week is $56 and on the weekends/Holidays $70 (after 1 p.m $50).
You will see a lot of deer on the front nine. They are clearly not worried about golfers and won’t move out of the way as you come up the fairway to hit your ball. I must admit that I did hit a deer with my approach shot on the fourth hole and the deer just hopped (because he was startled) and then just kept eating. I joked with my golf partner that I would have been on the green in regulation had the deer not interfered. (Note: click on images below to enlarge).
A few notes on holes: The front nine did not really have any tricky holes but there were some elevation changes (Hole 7 is 170 yards uphill off the tee) and fairways sloping left to right or visa versa. The back nine is more challenging with the wind off the ocean. I suppose if you spray you drives you would have more trouble on the front nine. A few specific points…
The fairway grass is Kikuyu. I have never played on this type of grass and noticed it was hard to delineate the fairway from the rough on many holes.
The grass on the greens is Poa Annua so they are spongy or a bit bumpy. If you are not used to playing on Poa Annua it will take a few holes to get use to the greens.
The course starts with two par 3 holes. They are long par 3 holes – 146 from back tees, 141 from forward tees. Hole 2 – 199 from back tees, 187 from forward tees. The holes are all named. The first two holes are “Little Tombstone” and “Big Tombstone” which refers to the old cemetery on the right side (of course, it’s out-of-bounds).
Two par 5 holes were over 500 yards from the forward tees – Hole 6 “Long Tom”, 521 yards, the longest – that’s just too long for shorter hitters to get on the green in regulation.
Pace of Play – It was slow (at first) they don’t appear to have a ranger. The issue for us was that they let a foursome out in front of us who were sharing clubs and it really slowed them down. One of the men in our group hit into them on the seventh hole (by accident) and so lucky for us on the next hole they let us play through otherwise it could have been a five hour plus round.
Also for anyone that misses their drives left, the main street is along the 18th fairway. One man in our foursome almost hit two cars and some pedestrians as his wayward shot went to the road and bounced on the pavement and on the sidewalk a few times.
The best compliment I can give Pacific Grove is that if I were a local I would be thrilled to have this course as an affordable place to play every week; and as a visitor, it is on my list next time I am back in the area.
My friend and I were both having a “milestone” birthday in 2021 so we decided a little over a year ago to plan a bucket list trip to Pebble Beach Golf Resorts. Lucky for us that we did early planning and were not impacted by the pandemic.
Spending a large sum of money on a bucket list trip brings on the feeling of “boy, I hope it is worth it.” I really wasn’t sure what to expect but it was an amazing trip. You must stay at the resort to play the courses but it is so much part of the experience that at the end of the trip you don’t mind. We played Pebble Beach, Spyglass and The Hay. We also played a few local courses, Pacific Grove, DeLaveaga Golf Course, and Carmel Valley Ranch. I will write seperate blog posts on the non-Pebble Beach courses.
We also took time to enjoy the surrounding area including Carmel-By-The-Sea, Pacific Grove, Monterey, and Big Sur. Our first day we arrived and traveled the 17 mile drive. So beautiful and lots of photo ops. The funny thing is we traveled the 17 mile drive many times during our stay at the resort going between The Inn at Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach Resort.
So that is the only photo of me I will bore my readers with in this blog post. As I said it is a “milestone birthday” – O.K., I’ll share, I turned 60 the day this photo was taken of me. Now for the main event – our experience with the courses at Pebble Beach Resorts.
The views are stunning and there are some hard holes (especially if the wind is up). I’m like everyone that visits and loved the 7th hole. Now mentally, for me, I found the most intimidating hole to be #6 because it is a crazy uphill hole. Here is the description – “The second shot of this iconic par five climbs nearly four stories to an elevated green.” I was thrilled to par the sixth hole.
The other hole that was a challenge because of the carry on the second shot was Hole 8, Par 4, 349 yards from the forward tees. It is the #2 handicap hole for women. The drive is easy with a big fairway, but you must be on the left side because the second shot is all carry and if you are on the right side of the fairway the carry is over the ocean. Even on the left side you have a lot of carry (over the hazard of rocks and bushes on the side of the cliff) but a better chance at hitting the fairway; and I’m happy to say I did hit the fairway!
So The holes that I felt were the most challenging were 6, (because of the uphill challenge), 7 (just because it’s in your head that you want a good score on the iconic hole), 8 (because of the forced carry, and 18 (because it seemed very long in the wind). I will say we were lucky with good weather, I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if the wind was really up or you had to play in dense fog.
We played the course the Tuesday after the PGA Champions Tour “Pure Insurance Championship” so the rough was really hard. I quickly learned that I had to really tighten my grip and use all the strength I had to advance the ball. Other than that and some wind on the back nine, we had amazing weather – sunny and in the 60s when we started and low 70s when we finished. Our round was a little over five hours. The caddies said it was a bit slower than normal but we were a foursome that got put in the middle of a “company outing.” My guess, we booked a year in advance and they had to fit the “outing” in around tee times; but we didn’t care because we really don’t want the round to end.
I would recommend a caddie for your first time at Pebble. They really can help with targets off the tees and placement of second shots on the par five holes to give you good approach shots. I also think some caddies are good at reading greens. I felt our caddie was a bit off on his reads (this is a reasonable comments after having a caddie at Spyglass that was awesome at green reading). And the greens were super fast!!
Later in the week, my golf buddy and I discussed the fact that we wished we had booked two rounds at Pebble Beach because after getting some course knowledge you really want to play again to see if you can better your first score. And because the views are amazing and it’s a beautiful walk. We actually did check to see if we could get another round but the only tee time was 2:40 p.m. and that meant we might not finish the round due to darkness.
I will share that while we were eating dinner at Stillwater (which overlooks the 18th green) you could see golfers finishing in the dark and a single light from a tree lit the green.
Everyone I spoke with before my trip said Spyglass was the harder course but their favorite course. Now, I loved Pebble for the uniqueness of the ocean views and I found Spyglass easier than Pebble Beach. I did notice that Pebble’s slope rating was a bit higher than Spyglass from the forward tees. I also wonder the men that said it was harder would all be hitting from the back tees so they would have a different experience with the course. Or it could be because, normally, I am a fairly straight hitter so I was in the fairway a large percent of the time at Spyglass (vs the day before at Pebble). Or I was just playing well that day. I’m not saying Spyglass is easy but for me it felt familiar (more like the courses I play back home — see Hole 12 in the photo, a par 3 with water on the side of the green — my golf eye was used to this type of hole) so I was relaxed and played well. Between the two courses, Spyglass was great but I would say Pebble is the course I want to play again because of it’s ocean views.
I will note that the men in our foursome at Spyglass, were really struggling with the tree lined part of the course (Holes 7 – 18).
How Did I play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill? First let me share my handicap which is 18.5 right now. Course Handicap Calculator gave me “21” for both courses. So, Pebble Beach (71.7/132): Shot a 107. Spyglass Hill (72.6/130): Shot a 95. My GHIN Differential for Pebble was 30.3 and for Spyglass 19.5 which basically means I played Pebble Beach like a golfer with a 30 handicap and Spyglass like a golfer with a 19 handicap so you get the gist with a course handicap of 21 as the comparison. Bottom line, I was really happy with my Spyglass round.
The Hay (Tiger Woods Short Course)
The Hay is located at the Pebble Beach Practice and Learning Center. The resort guests have free use of the practice center (expect for The Hay, you must pay to play). The Hay was a disappointment for both me and my golf buddy . The Hay was the only course that did not live up to the hype. It is a fine short course but it is not any nicer than the short practice courses at home. The two interesting holes were #2 which is “described” as a “replica” of the 7th at Pebble. And I thought the 4th was interesting because it was an uphill blind tee shot to the green.
Bottom line, it’s not worth paying $65 to play. And a tip, don’t play on Monday – they make you hit off a mat because they are trying to save the tee boxes from those golfers (not me) that take big divots. We paid $65 to play off mats, really? It really was the only disappointing part of the Pebble Beach Resort experience. The one thing I loved was the cute logo of The Hay which is the sea lion Cynthia. So of course I did buy a golf cap.
I could write pages about Pebble Beach but it would never give you the true feeling of experiencing it yourself. So if you have not gone to Pebble Beach Golf Resorts, save your money and go!
If you ask most people how many golf courses are on Martha’s Vineyard I think they would say one. And if they could name that course, it would most likely be “Farm Neck” because Presidents of the United States (Obama and Clinton) have played Farm Neck while vacationing on the vineyard.
I played Farm Neck last fall and it was a beautiful 18-hole golf course. It was what one would expect from an ocean course — a challenging course with beautiful views of the ocean, windy on the ocean holes, relief from the wind on inward holes that are tree lined. The course had its fair share of water hazards and bunkers. The post-round 19th hole atmosphere is great with a wonderful bar and restaurant. If you are vacationing on the vineyard and love golf you must play Farm Neck.
So you may be thinking, isn’t this a course review of Mink Meadows? Yes, it is but I wanted to give a comparison with the more well-known course on the island. So how is Mink Meadows like Farm Neck? Mink Meadows and Farm Neck are both semi-private and the courses are both in beautiful condition and fun to play but that is where the similarity ends.
Mink Meadow is a 9-hole course with two sets of tees (or alternate tees for a back nine that allows you to play a full 18-hole round). There are no water hazards at Mink Meadows and only one ocean view (but it is a beautiful view).
View of the Ocean from the green on hole eight at Mink Meadows
Don’t let the 9-hole setup and no water hazards on this course lull you into a state of ease. It is a challenging course! It can be very windy too! If you drive the ball straight you will have an advantage because the fairways are lined with trees or wispy grass. However, if you do find yourself off the fairway, the grass is not too tall (at least not in June) so you could actually find your ball. The bunkers are strategically place and make you think off the tee. The greens are particularly interesting and even a perfect shot will roll off the green if you don’t know the slope. If you have the pleasure of playing with a member, you can soak up local knowledge about the best approach shots/landing spot on the greens when you play the front nine. And then you have that knowledge for the back nine. Or make sure to ask the Golf Pro for a few tips before you tee off. One tip – on the 9th/18th hole everything rolls right (towards the ocean even though you don’t see the ocean).
The first nine holes are perfect for anyone! Expert golfers will enjoy the challenging greens and beginner/intermediate golfers won’t feel overwhelmed because it is a bit shorter than the back nine. And when you play the alternate tees on the back nine you really do feel like you are playing a different set of holes. It was really amazing to me how different the holes felt off the tees. I played two rounds of nine and two rounds of 18 and enjoyed the course more and more each time.
The atmosphere is another plus! It is relaxed and everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. There is a nice practice range at Mink Meadow but there is a distance limit (165 yards) so if you hit your driver a long way, you won’t be using a driver on the practice range.The pro shop has a nice collection of clothing and snacks (for the turn) but there is not a fancy bar or restaurant. Mink Meadows does have a nice porch so you and your friends could buy a soda and snack in the pro shop and sit outside on the porch, rehash your round or watch the golfers on the 9th hole.
So let’s talk fees. The green fee for 18-holes at Farm Neck (in season, between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.) is $170 (includes cart and range balls). The green fee for 18-holes at Mink Meadow is $100; with “a la carte” fees for cart $18 and small bucket of balls $4.
My recommendation: If you are looking for value (a great course and price), play Mink Meadows. You will have a great time. And if you want a 19th hole “experience” — drive over to Farm Neck after your round and use the bucks you saved on green fees to paid for your meal.
There is nothing better than meeting friends for a long weekend of golf. As I drove up Route 23 west, to meet my friends in the Catskills, it was raining and I wondered what the weather would hold for us over the next three days. Later that night a beautiful rainbow illuminated the mountain.
I saw the rainbow as a good sign because the first course we were playing was the Rainbow Golf Club in Greenville, New York. The other courses we played were Colonial Country Club in Tannerville, New York and Windham Country Club in Windham New York. One thing is for sure, the golf courses in the Catskills provide beautiful views of the spectacular mountain landscape.
My friends, who are great planners, emailed me a list of golf courses before our trip. I was the one that suggested we play the Rainbow Golf Club because the website had a photo of a beautiful island green. Well, it did have an island green but it certainly was not like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The Rainbow Club island green looked beautiful on the website but in reality the water surrounding the hole was cloudy and full of algae (or some green vegetation). Even though the hole was visually disappointing it was still an island green. I am happy to report we all made it over the water. Overall, the Rainbow course was fun and very reasonable in price ($35 w/cart). However, if I rank the courses we played, for me, I would put Rainbow in third place.
Colonial was a 9-hole course. As my friend described it, the course had “lots of moguls” (which seems fitting given the Catskills is famous for ski resorts.) My favorite hole was the 6th, par 3, 134 yards. It was just a fun hole because it was an elevated tee (and I love elevated tees). We played the hole around six p.m. so it was very beautiful in the gloaming. I would rank Colonial second because of the beautiful views. I really didn’t mind the uneven lies in the fairway (probably because I wasn’t playing that well anyway so I wasn’t concerned about my score.)
6th Hole, Par 3, Colonial
The Windham Golf Club was the final course of the weekend. The course was a short drive from the Albergo Allegria Bed and Breakfast were we stayed for the weekend. If you go to the Catskills, I highly recommend you stay in Windham.
It was a beautiful day for golf and it was very exciting when we were told the owner of the course recently spend 2 million on improvements. It was a great course for women because if you were striking the ball well you could reach the greens in regulation. That is not always true with a lot of modern courses which can be very long for women. There was only one hole that was strangely long. The 8th hole was a 163 yard par 3 and given that the average women hits her driver in the air 150 yards, it seemed unfair to most women.
The big negative for the Windham was that the course had no signs. Yes, no signs. A well marked course is important to the enjoyment of the game from many reasons, including keeping players moving along because they know where to go and what yardage to play. And with a course, like Windham, that is in a tourist town it seemed very odd for the course not to have signs. The young man in the Pro shop said the signs were coming but a groundsmen on a tractor told us the “owner doesn’t like the look of signs so he doubts there will ever be signs installed.” We managed to get around fairly well. Also, I guess we were just lucky that various grounds crew were working near by when we had a question on a hole location. The course was in great condition but they really do need to add signs to the holes.
My biggest pet peeve is slow play. My friends and I may be women but we play fast. At the Windham course we were to tee off before a foursome of men but the scorecards they gave us did not have ladies yardage so one of my friends had to go back to the pro shop (it was the first time I have ever seen a separate scorecard for women).
To make a long story short the men went off the first tee while my friend got scorecards. We did not mind because they said they played the course all the time. We thought “great, we can follow them since the course has no signs.” By the third hole were we so frustrated because the group in front was painfully slow. We were hitting to within 100 yards of the green and just watching them. By the fourth hole they asked if we want to play through because “we were only three players.” We gratefully accepted. I am so glad we played through. By the 12th hole, they were two holes behind us. We were enjoying our lunch in the pub room when we saw the group behind us on the 18th green (40 minutes after we finished our round.) The folks behind them must have been going crazy. If we were behind them the whole time, I might have actually stopped playing and asked for my money back at the pro shop. Here are my questions. Where was the ranger? Why were they allowed to fall so far behind our group? Yes, we played fast but still the group should have not fallen so far behind us. They were certainly playing much longer than what is acceptable for each hole. Anyway, I am thankful we played fast and enjoyed the final round of our golf weekend.
The courses we played would not be considered high-end. All were priced reasonably. The only time I felt the price of something was too high was Mulligan’s Pub at the Windham country club. A burger was $12 (other burgers were $14 and some entrees went as high as $23.99) and they did not provide free refills on soda or ice tea. My guess, the owner has to recoup the $2 million in improvements somewhere. The food was good but skip the pub and go in town for lunch.
Even with “no signs” and an expensive food, I would rank the Windham course as the top course we played. It gets the top spot because of the fairness of the course for women, the great condition of the course, and the beautiful mountain views. However, if I had been behind the slow group for 18 holes, it might have been the down fall of the course. I hope they add signs and rangers to make sure pace of play does not impact the experience of golfers visiting Windham Country Club.
Perhaps there were other courses in the area that might be more high-end but high-end does not equate to fun. Playing with your best friends on a beautiful day on a course that is challenging but fair is what makes golf fun!
Next stop, North Carolina. Come back to my blog at the end of June to find out where I played!
San Antonio, Texas in April. I thought, how lucky can I be to get to go on a business trip (with golf) in April. I packed my bags and left behind the long cold winter of 2014 on the east coast. When I landed in San Antonio, Texas it was in the 50’s — what? The weather channel said mid-70’s to 80’s was normal. I was confident the next day would be better. Boy, I was wrong. Cold and rainy for the first day of golf on the Palmer Course.
View of Palmer Course club house and 18th hole from the 1st hole tee box
The starter said the Palmer Course was a hard course but my playing partners and I all felt it wasn’t bad considering it was rainy and cold. We played better than anticipated given it was the first round of the season. At the end of the day, we didn’t have a drink at the 19th hole to talk about how much fun we had during our round of golf. Nope. All anyone wanted to do was go back to their own hotel room and take a hot shower to try and warm their bones.
A few days later it was a bit warmer and The Resort Course, at La Cantera was the site of a 2-person scramble. By now I had a “wicked bad” (for all my New England friends) cold with a fever and sore throat. The morning was still cold by was sunny; and everyone said it would warm-up.
Again, the starter said The Resort Course was a hard course. The PGA Tour played the Texas Open on the Resort Course from 1995 to 2009. At the turn, there are stones engraved with winner’s names from the tournament.
At the turn, Texas Open winner’s name on every large rock – Justin Leonard from 2000
All the women that I played with felt the course was very long for us (even from the forward tees) but it was also a very windy day and a lot of times we were hitting into the wind. I am not the longest hitter off the tee but my second shots and short game fit nicely with my partner, who did hit it long of the tee.
I love the internet today because you can see a whole course, hole by hole. The Resort Course has a good 360 view. There are two holes that I had memorable shots on — Number 5 and number 12. Hole 5 is a 432 Par 5 with a dogleg to the right for the approach shot (or over the trees to the green). My partner said she did not have “the shot in her bag to go over the trees” but I felt I could do it. My pro had shown me how to do that shot last summer. Well, I am proud to say I did it! I grabbed my 4 hybrid, put the ball slightly forward in my stance, a slight forward press in my hands and my swing thought was to swing down on the ball. I watched my ball sail over the trees. When we got to the green (130 yards away) there was my ball. All golfers know it takes just one great shot during a so/so or bad round that makes a golfer want to keep playing. That was the shot of the day for me. I was so excited I forgot to take a photo!
The other fun shot was on the 12th hole, a par 288 yard par 4. The approach shot onto the green is over a hazard. I think the course designer wanted a visual that would intimidate golfers (you know, get in your head — “ugh, I have to carry that stuff?”) Below is the view of the shot I had to make it onto the green. The flag is hard to see but sits just to the right of the trees in front of the bunker on the left.
La Cantera Resort Course, Hole 12, Par 4 – Approach Shot
All my playing partners missed the green (short and in the junk). It really surprised me because they all had great shots until this approach shot. I hit my ball onto the green and was very happy. My partner said that I was “smart” because I went for the shorter distance over the junk by going for the middle-right side of the green. They all went for the flag. Another shot that made me feel good about my game. That’s the trick, think only about your good shots.
We had a fun time and to my surprise my team came in 2nd place in the 2-person scramble, high handicap flight. Did I forget to mention I am a high handicap. It is hard to be a low handicap when you can’t drive the hole in regulation (but I am working on my length.) I learned something about my game in that scramble. I may be a high handicap but I am a great scramble partner because I have a good short game and sometimes hit great approach shots.
The bottom line — La Canter Resort is beautiful, the courses are hard but not so hard that you shouldn’t give them a try if you are in San Antonio. The yardage on the scorecard is deceiving because the front tees seem to be reasonable. But what makes it long for ladies is the wind and some of the carries. My only advice – just don’t get my luck and have the weather be cold and rainy because you might come away with another experience — a “wicked bad” cold.