The small coastal town of Half Moon Bay lies less than an hour’s drive south of downtown San Francisco, where the Half Moon Bay Golf Links opened the first of its two 18-hole golf layouts (the Old course) in 1973.
Unfortunately, apart from the spectacular closing par four hole which plays along the Oceanside cliffs, the playing corridors of this Arnold Palmer and Frank Duane design are routed around large residential areas, away from the coastline.
On the other hand, the Arthur Hills-designed Ocean course to the south of the property was unveiled in 1997 and it’s largely devoid of any housing elements, offering golfers an entertaining links-like golf experience with firm and fast playing conditions.
Feature holes include the short par four 2nd (with a wide gully to carry on the tee shot), the par three 7th (the only water-laden hole on the card), and the trio of cliff top finishing holes at 16, 17 and 18, where wayward shots to the left are consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker.
The Ocean course hosted the 28th and penultimate edition of the Samsung World Championship on the LPGA Tour in 2008. Paula Creamer won the event by one shot with an aggregate score of 279, nine under par, claiming the first prize share of the tournament’s $1 million purse.
The second course at Half Moon Bay is called the Ocean Course- perhaps taking liberties- as only three holes actually approach the sea.
It is a pleasant course with plenty of variety. The land is not outstanding golfing terrain, but has some interesting moments
The Ocean course heads inland immediately crossing a creek on the second hole into an adjoining paddock where the bulk of the course is sited.
It is a well designed course- sound strategically, and in good condition. However at times it does feel a little contrived..
It is not a course I would travel any distance to play, but the hotel is world class and well located for travellers, so a game of golf here adds to the experience.
Notable Holes include:
The seventh hole is a pretty par 3 over a pond which exhibits classic strategic design principles. The green is angled from right to left away from the tee, and is protected by a little pot bunker right of the green which really needs to be avoided. But if you leak left you really need to be up to avoid the pond..
The routing eventually brings the golfer back to the ocean on the sixteenth tee. It is a downhill par 4 with ocean left and behind the green. It's a spectacular hole and a good test of golf. A barranca crosses at an angle just in front of the green providing a testing approach shot. Position off the tee is crucial! Sixteen is by far the best hole on the course.
Hole seventeen is a shortish par 3 along the clifftop. Club selection is vital as the sea breezes are in play. It's a nice hole
The final hole is a longish par 5 up and along the cliffs with the Ritz Carlton hotel as an imposing backdrop. However after a tee shot over the creek back to the hotel land, the sea and cliffs are unsighted (even though they are never far away).
The Ocean Course is a nice way to spend the day- and the Ritz Carlton awaits you after the game!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Another great 36 hole location, the Ocean course is the better of the 2. Cliff side, Pacific Ocean views...
Better overall than the big brother Old Course but still there's way too much shaping for my tastes that makes the Ocean Course stand apart from the site itself. It doesn't help matters when you see obvious man made creations meant to give "definition" to the site.
Much is made of the ending trio nearest to the Pacific and they are a good bunch but for anyone to confuse them with the gems along the Pacific that you find further south as one nears the Monterey Peninsula would be a big time stretch of one's imagination.
The resort amenities are well done. However, the golf is merely present for those who are non-architectural devotees. The design provides functionality -- not compelling architecture.
M. James Ward