In the latest issue of Cigar Aficionado, we feature an article on majestic Pebble Beach. This expansion of that article looks at other courses on Monterey Bay.
Gen. Robert B. McClure wasn't much of a golfer, but he knew what he was doing. In the 1950s he was given a peach of a posting at Fort Ord, just north of Monterey, California. The fort's broad swath of land overlooking Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean was a scenic delight, and, to the general's eye, a lovely spot for a golf course.
So, as the story goes, Gen. McClure, commander of the 7th Infantry Light Fighter Division, designed a course and rounded up the troops to build it. It was called "Bayonet" after the nickname of the 7th Infantry. It was a pretty darned good track, and a pretty darned tough one. A second course, the Black Horse, was opened in 1964, giving Fort Ord the unquestioned one-two punch in military golf.
The fort was decommissioned and sold to the city of Seaside in 1997, and the golf courses became fully public. In 2005, Seaside Development Co. took over the facility with some grand plans. Now, after a $13 million renovation by golf course architect Gene Bates, the Bayonet and Black Horse courses pack a real wallop, and provide real value for golf on the Monterey Peninsula.
If you are not playing Pebble Beach or don't have the connections to play Cypress Point, Bayonet and Black Horse are worth a visit, maybe two or three. The general's old Bayonet layout is pretty much intact (several dogleg left holes are said to be the product of lefty McClure's wicked slice) and the Black Horse now has a set of roller coaster greens.
"Basically, we completely rebuilt the golf courses within the original routing," said Bates. "All the greens have been rebuilt, all the bunkers are new, all the grass is new, there is new irrigation and drainage. We were able to remove hundreds of trees, about 800 of them on Black Horse, which opened up fantastic views of Monterey Bay."
Gone now is the grabby Kikuyu grass in the fairways and rough. Gone are the poa annua greens. The place is all bentgrass now, the lies are better and the putts are smoother. But the place didn't get any easier. There is a reason that the PGA Tour has selected the facility to hold a second-stage Tour qualifying event in the Fall.
Don't make Bayonet and Black Horse any more difficult than you have to. Put your macho aside and pick the right set of tees. At any length these courses will test you and the ball doesn't fly as far in the thick air of the Peninsula. The five-hole stretch from 11 to 15 on Bayonet, known as Combat Corner, is a collection of three short but devilish par 4s, a long par 4 and a tough par 3. The par 4 15th is only 370 yards from the back tee but manages to play as a double dogleg where precision is everything.
Green fees range up to $140 with cart of weekends, but there are plenty of bargain rates during the week that reduce the fees to less than $100. Check the club's Web site at www.bayonetblackhorse.com. It's only a 20-minute drive to the charming village of Carmel. Inns by the Sea, a collection of upscale bed and breakfasts in the middle of town, has deals to stay and play at Bayonet/Black Horse, and some pretty scrumptious rooms, too.
Del Monte Golf Course and Pacific Grove Links are two other excellent value/excellent experience courses in the area. Del Monte, opened in 1897, is owned by the Pebble Beach Company and is said to be the oldest golf operation west of the Mississippi. It's a classic California parkland course. Pacific Grove is a muni and the back nine is something special. Several holes play near the Pacific and is has a real links style feel to it. You can pay a reduced rate in the morning to play the back nine.
Check out the latest issue of Cigar Aficionado, featuring actor Chris Noth on the cover, for an article about Pebble Beach.
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