The United States Army established Fort Ord as a field-artillery target range in 1917. Located just outside the coastal town of Seaside, the base was a popular posting for military personnel because of its attractive location just off Monterey Bay, with the 7th Infantry Division as its main garrison for many years.
General Robert B. McClure is credited with designing the Bayonet course (the 7th Infantry were known as the “Bayonet Division”) in 1954 and such was the positive impact this facility had on morale, a second 18-hole layout called the Black Horse (the nickname of the 11th Cavalry Regiment stationed nearby) was brought into play a decade later.
Fort Ord closed in 1994 and most of the 28,000-acre site was sold to local municipal authorities for development. The City of Seaside acquired the golf facilities in 1997 and since then both 18-hole layouts have been extensively renovated by Gene Bates, resulting in the Bayonet course hosting the PGA Professional National Championship in 2012 and 2018.
The revamped course is only sixteen yards longer than the original but the strategic and visual impact of Bates’ bunkering is immeasurable. Kikuyu grass was also removed during the upgrade, replaced with bent grass to greatly improve performance. The course routing remains the same but a number of the holes have been re-sequenced.
One of the more dramatic putting surface modifications was made to the par four 7th (now played as the 5th) where the severe left-to-right slope was eliminated. On the back nine, the long par three 17th hole was also overhauled, relocated to the left of where it was once situated to allow for future residential development.
I was here in 2011 but only played Black Horse that time which I really liked. This time I played both, doing Black Horse the previous day and Bayonet the following one. Having played both of them in consecutive days helps you to compare them and mark the differences between both.
Bayonet was in great condition, greens rolling true and fast and we played in a nice sunny day although not hot despite it was late Spring (last week). I loved this course, it offers challenge from the tee and gives you some chances on the approach shots which are easier than Black Horse but all the same this course is said to play 2-3 shots tougher for scratch golfers. Another feature of this one is that most of the holes are in the lower part of the piece of land while Black Horse has most of the holes in the higher spots. And you have views of the ocean from almost every hole.
Holes that are special? Yes, some: par 3 4th has a nice sloped small green, par 5 8th gives you the chance to get in 2 and dog leg 9th is one of the best of the front. Reachable 11th (I drove it) is a great example of risk-reward hole, 14th has a very tough approach shot and reachable 16th offers many alternatives from the tee. Elevated green on par 5 18th is a grand finale for this very good course. And par 3 17th makes you note that if you miss, recovery is very tough (I double bogied it). A very fun round and for sure worth to come back.