The Monarch Beach Golf Links at the St Regis Monarch Beach Resort is an early 1980s Robert Trent Jones Jnr design, where fairways weave their way around a large residential development. Unfortunately, only one hole, the short par four 3rd, actually reaches the Pacific shoreline.
The issue with Monarch Beach is that the acreage is impacted in a major way by the clustering of mega-million dollar homes that engulf the layout like a straight jacket on an inmate. The facility doesn't have a practice range -- you have to hit into a low brow hitting net. Given the clientele the facility is seeking to engage -- such an option is beyond tacky when one considers that room rates routinely are in the $400+ range.
The comments made by the first reviewer is spot on. The outward nine is the superior of the two sides and has the better mixture of holes and overall challenge.
The opening trio of holes makes for an excellent mixture of par-4 holes. For those who are game the extreme rear tee on the 1st makes for a testing opening shot. The par-4 2nd is arguably the best two-shot hole on the course with water protruding from the right side to be avoided. The dog-left 3rd is a fine short par-4 that brings players to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
The placement of back-to-back par-3's at the 4th and 5th works fairly well given the nature of the land. The par-5 7th and par-4 8th are two superior holes in succession. The former is a stellar three-shot hole with a lower and higher fairway areas for players to contend with when playing their second shots. Missing the fairway can likely result in a donation to the club's ball fund. The long par-4 8th generally plays back into the prevailing breeze and is a stout no nonsense hole.
The inward nine is simply shoe-horned into a small piece of available land. The holes are merely adequate. The saving grace comes with the 18th hole. Playing back into the prevailing breeze and turning slightly left in the drive zone the ending hole features a putting surface strongly defended by water. When the pin is cut to the far right side it appears from the fairway that your landing area is the size of someone's personal closet.
In sum, Monarch Beach is located in some of the priciest real estate in all of California. The golf has its moments but a more balanced layout would have added to the overall stature of the course. What one finds is adequate but the final result should have been in line with what the overall resort provides in so many other areas.
by M. James Ward
One suggestion that would make all the difference with this course is to flip the 9s. Start out on the current 10th hole as your first and you make your way through a somewhat challenging but ultimately bland nine holes that winds its way through a housing development.
After the warmup on the "front" side you then are pumped for the "back" nine which starts with a great uphill par 4 bordered by a lake. The 11th then goes back the way you came doglegging around the lake. Then you go under the roadway to the seaside holes with the short and tranquil 12th and 13th holes. Add on top of that a long and challenging par 5 that you have cross a stream twice in order to gain the green and you might rank Monarch Beach pretty high!
Alas, all the interesting and picturesque holes happen on the front side and are over with much too quickly. The course cannot really justify its high price tag otherwise but the routing leaves much to be desired. If you go, ask if you can play the front side twice!