Monterey is more than Pebble Beach

By Philip Sokol - Director of Operations

Monterey, CA (Sports Network) - Most golf nuts are always searching for that ultimate buddy trip. To play 12 rounds of golf in 5 days, visit the local establishments and enjoy the fruitful libation to the wee hours of the morning.

Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Bandon Dunes, even Whistling Straits come to mind for the golf junkie seeking such an excursion, but have you ever thought of the Monterey peninsula in California?

18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The golf enthusiast virtually has no shot at playing Pine Valley or Augusta National, but you can play Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Certainly the granddaddy of golf on the west coast, Pebble Beach has been ranked in the top-10 in the United States for as long as I can remember...and with good reason.

It has hosted five U.S. Opens, four U.S. Amateurs, a PGA Championship and a yearly PGA Tour event since 1947. The views are sensational along the Pacific Coast and when you can walk the fairways where the greats of the game strolled, why not? Yes, it will cost an arm and a leg - a round will cost you $495 - but you only live once.

However, Pebble Beach is just a small part of what the Monterey Peninsula has to offer.

The ultra-exclusive Cypress Point Club is for the most part out of the question, as you'll need to be hosted by a member. But how about Spyglass Hill Golf Course?

The downhill third hole at Spyglass Hill.
Opened for play in 1966, Spyglass Hill was designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. The holes are named after characters from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, "Treasure Island." Your approach shot on the opening hole plays toward the ocean and doesn't leave the seaside until you head inland on the uphill sixth. A true masterpiece, and Jones' highest rated course in the U.S.

Poppy Hills Golf Course is another outstanding venue near the California coast. Carved inland through the forests of Monterey, Poppy Hills is rated 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest's Places to Play. It features undulating greens that are guarded tightly by plenty of sand. The back-to-back, risk-reward par fives on holes nine and 10 are quite enticing. For years, the course was part of the AT&T Pro-Am rotation, and its current course conditioning is as good as it gets.

The par 5 10th hole at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Often overlooked is The Links at Spanish Bay. The trio of Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Watson and former USGA president Sandy Tatum put their talents together to create a Scottish-style layout along the coast. Rated as one of the top-25 courses in the state, Spanish Bay is very reminiscent of the wonderful layouts across the pond.

Monterey Peninsula Country Club boasts a pair of wonderful courses, the Shore Course, which was added to the Pro-Am rota in 2010, and the Dunes layout. Both courses boast a celebrated history, as the Dunes was designed by C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor in 1925 and the Shore venue was crafted by Pebble Beach co-designer Jack Neville and Robert Baldock, and then redesigned by the late Mike Strantz. It's no wonder that the Shore Course is rated in the top-10 in California.

Designed in 1932, Pacific Grove Golf Club is another gem along the Pacific Coast. Neville and H. Chandler Egan had their hands in this layout that traverses through the trees for nine holes and then along the sand dunes by the coast. Just drop a zero off the cost at Pebble Beach, and Pacific Grove might be the best ticket in town.

Just a few minutes north of the peninsula are two courses that some consider the best 36 holes in the Monterey region, the Bayonet and Black Horse layouts at Fort Ord. Named after the Army's 7th Infantry, the Bayonet stretches over 7,100 yards and features tree-lined fairways. The Black Horse course honors the 11th Cavalry Regiment that was stationed here for over 20 years. The championship tees now possess a slope of 141 and a rating of 73.7, with views of Monterey Bay.

Golf is just a smidgen of what the Monterey region has to offer. First and foremost is the quaint town of Carmel, with its beautiful bed and breakfasts that line the streets and the plentiful shops and restaurants. An artist's haven, Carmel-by-the-Sea boasts some of the most charming galleries on the west coast.

A must attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located in Pacific Grove. From Pink Flamingos to Seahorses, Penguins and Otters, not to mention the giant Pacific Octopus, the Aquarium is a great way to learn about our ocean friends.

A favorite activity of all visitors is the majestic ride through 17-Mile Drive. This scenic road traverses through some of the most beautiful golf courses in the country, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach among them, as you hug the coastline. The lone Cypress, a symbol of California and the Pebble Beach Company, stands tall as one of the most inspiring spots on the coast.

So boys (and girls), if you're tired of the same old, same old, then it's time for a trip to the west coast and some of the best golf on the planet. Sure, Pebble Beach receives all of the accolades, but the Monterey Peninsula is a golfer's dream.

Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach Resorts, The Lone Cypress, and their respective underlying distinctive images are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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