It’s been quite a long time since I visited the Pacific Grove municipal course, but playing it on a surprisingly beautiful and calm December day definitely struck a chord with a younger me. Having played Pebble Beach the day before, I came in expecting to be underwhelmed by a course that was only about 5,700 yards from the tips.
The outward nine is an odd routing to say the least, with its consecutive par three opening holes and consecutive par fives later on - followed by another set of consecutive par threes as players make the turn. I don’t remember much detail of it, other than it being somewhat hilly and particularly tight with smallish greens. The best part of the course is when you head out towards the Pacific, namely holes #11-#15. A series of par fours, along with the par five #12, that meander out along the end of 17 Mile Drive and take full advantage of the rippling dune topography, the scenery and landforms on this stretch are unmatched nearly anywhere in the world. Since Pacific Grove is only a simple muni, these duneland holes aren’t as refined as Cypress Point a few miles down the road or even its closer neighbor Spanish Bay, but for a naive Midwestern college kid, it might as well be the same thing.
Sadly, the final three holes are also a bit underwhelming, which in consort with the front nine provides me enough ammunition to defend the overall ranking I give the course. It doesn’t appear to have changed much in the nearly twenty years since I played it; I returned a couple of years ago to stay at a historic former YWCA lodge complex nearby (Asilomar – look it up, it’s awesome) for a night on my honeymoon and walked a few holes at twilight. With its charm and uniqueness, it may not be world-class, but it’s definitely worth it for the seaside holes alone.
Played December 28, 2000
Date: April 14, 2020