GolfCalifornia.com Authors List Their Favorite Courses From 1999
David R. Holland's Year-End List of his Favorite Golf Courses in California
1. Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz. Steeped in rich tradition, this Alister MacKenzie course was built in 1929, two years after he designed Cypress Point. He went on to design Augusta National. This is one of the least-known great golf courses in the world. MacKenzie lived and died in his house on the sixth fairway of Pasatiempo. Ranked No. 11 on Golf Magazine's list of the Top 100 Courses you can play, it is truly a hidden jewel of golf on Monterey Bay.
2. San Juan Oaks, San Juan Bautista. A beautifully manicured course on historic California ranch land. The lack of construction noise and the absence of houses make this a commune with nature. Eagles soar overhead as you climb in elevation and into draws back against the golden hillsides.
This is Fred Couples' first signature golf course opened in 1996. He teamed with San Jose's Gene Bates to design this adventure south of the hustle and bustle of the Silicon Valley.
3. Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Pebble Beach. Tour players respect the heck out of Spyglass which is the toughest golf course on the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am rotation along with Poppy Hills. The first four holes of the Robert Trent Jones course are memorable with awesome Pacific Ocean views, sand mounds and ice plant.
"The golf course was designed with the first five holes like Pine Valley in New Jersey in mind and the final holes with Augusta National in mind," said head pro Mark Brenneman said. "The first five holes are so demanding that it throws your game off for the rest of the day. Most get off to a bad start and then there is no place to catch up -- it is grueling." Spyglass Hill is ranked No. 4 on Golf Magazine's list of the Top 100 golf courses in the USA.
4. La Costa Resort and Spa South Course, Carlsbad. Home for the Tournament of Champions for 30 years. You can retrace the footsteps of the game's greatest players here. World-class resort and golf that will challenge you with much water and bunkers.
"La Costa is one of the truly great, fair golf courses. It will challenge anyone who plays it. It's hard to get hot because of the pin placements and the bunkers are really tough. I don't think we have ever had a runaway tournament," said head pro Gary Glaser. LaCosta South is ranked No. 99 on Golf Magazine's list of the Top 100 golf courses in the USA.
5. The Alisal Ranch Course, Solvang. Located on a historic California dude ranch. Built in 1945 as a nine-hole course (designed by Billy Bell), now measures 6,551, a par-72, but its tight fairways, huge trees, many with branches overhanging the fairways, makes it a tough test. Undulating and fast greens also will challenge you. Look for the 300-year-old sycamores and live oaks -- amazing sights.
"Five years ago we renovated the greens, bunkers and tees and two years ago we hired David Rosenstrauch as superintendent," said Master Professional John Hardy said. "So you might say this course has blossomed. It is in the best condition it has ever been. This area has always been a wonderful setting and you get great ambiance at The Alisal."
December 16, 1999