Pasadera Country Club: Nicklaus design features sunny side of Monterey

By David R. Holland, Contributor

MONTEREY, Calif. -- While making a bid for the governorship of California last October, Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped by Pasadera Country Club for a fund-raiser and luncheon. He should have forgotten about politics and stayed for golf.

Life would have been much more simple.

Pasadera Country Club is a private golf community about 10 miles inland from world-famous Pebble Beach. Jack Nicklaus' only signature design on the Monterey Peninsula is on the road toward Salinas (Highway 68), only two miles from the airport, and its dramatic layout cruises through open flat land; dives into dark, scenic canyons; and is set amongst tan, sun-washed hillsides and coastal oaks.

The 6,801-yard, par-71 layout has variety and scenery and another plus -- better weather than what one finds on the historic golf gems of 17-Mile Drive. While those traditional golf fanatics are dealing with the blustery Pacific Ocean and fog -- Pasadera's members might have weather that is 10 to 15 degrees warmer and sunny.

That's a definite draw for empty-nesters, golfers seeking a second home and other veterans to Monterey County who have grown tired of the cool, damp and windy forces of nature living along the coast or inside 17-Mile Drive. Pasadera has become the only full-scale country club in town with numerous other activities along with golf.

Amenities include formal and informal dining; conference facilities; club limousine and concierge; swimming and tennis; extensive golf practice facilities with video instruction; golf-club repair; men's and women's clubhouse locker rooms; men's and women's massage and steam rooms and even a place where the guys can play cards.

And don't forget about golf. The vista from atop one of the hillside summits stretches from Mt. Toro to Monterey Bay. And this tee box, the par-3 14th, is not for a beginner -- it is all of 209 yards to carry across a wooden canyon of lost balls. Try and hold the green with the wind whipping behind you. It's even a challenge for Mr. Nicklaus, who said the golf course has 18 signature holes, but that No. 14 might be the most jaw-dropping.

Pasadera, or "stepping stone" in Spanish, like many California golf projects took years to complete. Originally, Robert Muir Graves designed a routing, but Nicklaus' final work made the par-3 tests the kind of holes you would love to play day-in and day-out.

Shot-making, heroic risk-taking and strategy all come into play. You see it in the first hole, a par 5 of 505 yards where the creek crosses the fairway at an angle. How much do you dare chew off? Bunkers and wetness await any shot not perfectly struck.

The par 3s are the most fun. No. 3 at 189 yards has a gigantic oak tree in sight and requires a tough pitch back to the green if you go too far right. The sixth at 164 yards, reminiscent of the 11th at St. Andrews, crosses the fifth fairway. Tee off in a secluded grove of oaks to a green protected by water. Many times novices concentrate on clearing the water, swing too hard, and pull it left over the green an into deeper trouble.

The par-3 11th is 211 yards slightly uphill to an amphitheater green surrounded by coastal live oak trees. And the 16th at 164 yards has a daunting two-tiered green with bunkers protected the front and back.

Before and after your round exploring the 36,000-square foot clubhouse and the beautiful landscaping is a treat in this gated community. The architecture will take you back to the early days of Old Monterey and California with the Spanish-influenced architecture, stone driveways and red-tiled roofs. The stones of the driveway came piece by piece from a city in Mexico.

The verdict

It's a winner, no doubt, from the friendly service to formal and informal food, to the above-the-normal amenities. Pasadera is unique in Monterey and sets the bar. The scenery is stunning, the golf course is Nicklaus at his typical best, the practice facilities are way better than you will ever find at 80 percent of the typical California layouts. If you love Monterey and are yearning for something different on the Peninsula, Pasadera is well worth the look for those with sufficient bank accounts.

Stay and play

Here are several options should you come to Monterey to check out membership at Pasadera Country Club:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Marina
189 Seaside Circle, Marina
(831) 884-2500 or (800) 228-7555

Sign up for golf packages to nearby Bayonet and Black Horse and enjoy comfortable rooms with data-port phones, in-room coffee, continental breakfast and welcome fresh-baked cookies. Marina is just minutes north of Monterey on Highway 1 with pristine beaches and towering sand dunes.

Marina Dunes Resort
3295 Dunes Drive, Marina
(831) 883-6478

Marina Dunes was the first oceanfront development approved by the California Coastal Commission in 24 years when it was planned in 1994. Churning surf is within sight and sound of your private building and deck. Pick a suite or a single room. The Resort includes spa services and AJ Spuds Restaurant, specializing in steaks, ribs, seafood and poultry. Marina is 10 minutes north of Monterey on Highway 1 and minutes from Bayonet and Black Horse.

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
400 Cannery Row, Monterey
(831) 646-1700

The premier hotel on Cannery Row, the Monterey Plaza has ocean views and award-winning luxury. Check out the web site for golf packages, including Bayonet and Black Horse. Dine in the hotel at The Duck Club or Schooners Bistro by the Bay.

Dining out

Hog's Breath Inn, Carmel, (831) 625-1044
Fishwife at Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove, (831) 375-7107
Tinnery at the Beach, Pacific Grove, (831) 646-1040
Old Bath House, Pacific Grove, (831) 375-5195
Stokes Adobe, Monterey, (831) 373-1110
The Tap Room, Lodge at Pebble Beach, (800) 654-9300

For more information on local Monterey tourist sites, government, and lifestyles visit,,,, and

Fast fact

Pasadera Country Club is home to the only Jack Nicklaus signature design on the Monterey Peninsula. California professional football notables who are members here include Ronnie Lott (49ers) and John Madden (Raiders).

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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