Pasatiempo - California - USA

Pasatiempo Golf Club,
20 Clubhouse Road,
Santa Cruz,
California (CA) 95060,
USA


  • +1 831 459 9155


Pasatiempo was the vision of expert horsewoman, lady golfer and entrepreneur Marion Hollins – the only woman in America with a men’s polo handicap. The great Alister MacKenzie designed the course and it opened for play in 1929 with a mixed exhibition foursome between Marion Hollins, Bobby Jones, Glenna Collett and Cyril Tolley.

The course is set on the rolling southern hills near Monterey Bay and it’s these slopes that provide much of the Pasatiempo drama. Pasatiempo has a number of Spanish meanings including, “hobby”, “pastime” or a “relaxed passage of time.” Certainly the front nine is a relaxed affair that offers straight tree-lined fairways, but the back nine is a monumental challenge with deep intimidating ravines – known as barrancas in Spanish – which cut across the fairways and greens.

In the early 1990s, club historian Robert Beck discovered many old course photographs and so Pasatiempo embarked on a lengthy restoration programme. The club entrusted Tom Doak with the task. Doak is an admirer of MacKenzie’s work and was therefore the perfect man for the job. The restoration of Pasatiempo completed in 2007 and Doak commented as follows:

“The restoration project was unusual in that we did the work over a period of years in order to keep the course in play throughout. We had the challenge of working with several green committees through the process, but their vision was always clear and consistent — to restore MacKenzie's design as closely as possible. Moreover, I would like to thank the three men who were a part of the project from beginning to end — club historian Bob Beck, who kept digging throughout the project for more photos to help us get things right; superintendent Dean Gump, who kept us organized and got us whatever we needed; and my lead associate Jim Urbina, who managed to keep finding time to get back to Pasatiempo in between building some great new courses for us. Dr. MacKenzie would be proud of them all.”

Undeniably, Pasatiempo is an entertaining course that holds the attention from the opening drive to the last putt. This semi-private club is one of the greatest public access courses in America and, in this day of so many closed and private Top 100 Golf Clubs, we raise our glasses to Pasatiempo.

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Description: The great Alister MacKenzie designed Pasatiempo and it opened for play in 1929 with a mixed exhibition foursome between Marion Hollins, Bobby Jones, Glenna Collett and Cyril Tolley. Rating: 9.2 out of 10 Reviews: 19
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Larry Berle
My favourite hole in all golf is here, so much my favourite that I built my home here. Alister MacKenzie, course designer.

In 1993, Pasatiempo was rated No. 100 on the list. Would it still be on next year, or the next? I wondered. Was it worth the chance that it might drop off? An unusual combination of public and private, it’s not cheap to join but allows public play. It’s located in Santa Cruz, California, about 50 miles up the coast from the more famous Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Cypress Point. I was in the vicinity, so I decided to play it. Am I glad I did! I’ve been back twice and would play it again in an instant.

Holes Number 1 and 2 work their way downhill toward the pacific, framing the ocean with Cypress trees the entire way…

As you walk up the 6th fairway, approximately 100 yards from the green, you see the home in which MacKenzie once lived, a fitting shrine for the world’s greatest golf course architect. Number 16 was MacKenzie’s favorite hole in golf, which is saying something since he designed some of the most famous par 3’s in existence. “The 16th green is a garden spot,” he once said. “After playing a drive over the point of the hill, you hesitate to spoil the delightful quiet of this grassy velvet nestling in the trees. It is indeed a beautiful par 4.”

None of the other courses MacKenzie designed are public. So if you get a chance to play Pasatiempo, don’t hesitate! Larry Berle.
October 05, 2014
8 / 10
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Keith Baxter
October 05, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
Fergal O'Leary
100 yards short of the 6th green is the location for Alister MacKenzie’s American home prior to his passing in 1934. He clearly wanted to be close to this gem. The club was founded by former US Women’s Amateur Champion, Marion Hollins who continued her partnership with MacKenzie to design the course. Having already teamed up to create Cypress PointPasatiempo Golf Course - Photo by reviewer and subsequently at Augusta National, the layout at Pasatiempo was destined for greatness. The course is characterized by dramatic elevation changes and natural hazards highlighting MacKenzie’s rugged site, yet they effortlessly blend into the surrounding environment. The design of the bunkers are original MacKenzie and have been wonderfully restored. Of all the MacKenzie courses I’ve played around the world, the bunker complexes are visually stunning and contribute to making each hole so memorable. With that said, the brutality of some of the greens give way to this course being described as “subtly diabolical”. It will break your heart at the drop of a hat. MacKenzie himself has been quoted as saying that the 16th is “the best two-shot hole I know” and described Pasatiempo’s undulating fairways as bearing a remarkable resemblance to those at the Old Course. Be sure to stop by the clubhouse to view the memorabilia case dedicated to this World Golf Hall of Fame architect.
December 09, 2013
8 / 10
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Matt Dunn
This is a fantastic course and I managed to get an online deal with a $70 discount. I chose to walk with a push cart... wish I'd just taken a cart. I was exhausted. It's not overly long, but is very hilly. Carrying my bag probably would have been easier as I could have shortcut the green to teebox paths. The course was in great condition and had just held an National Amateur championship a couple of days earlier so the pins were still in tricky positions. The greens were very tricky in places often with large breaks and multi-tiered. Several times in our group our second putt was hit further from the cup than our first putt! There is a lot of elevation change across the course, so even if you play over a dip to a landing area level with the tee box/ fairway, you have to walk down and up often which made it pretty tiring to walk (I think I'm just out of practice at walking these kinds of courses). When the sun came out and burned off the morning haze there were baetiful views down to the Ocean on the front nine.I thought the bunkering was excellent (pretty challenging) and the fairways often leave you with sloping lies. I guess this is a kind of West Coast Augusta given it was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie. I'd play it again for sure (with a cart) and keep an eye out for a good internet deal on the green fee.
August 05, 2013
8 / 10
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Javier Pintos
I came to Pasatiempo almost by accident and I have to blame myself for not knowing that this course existed and what it means to golf history. During my last IAGTO North American Convention I was invited to Cypress Point and decided to put a couple of rounds as my invitation was some days after the end of the show. Rick Myles, fellow Tour Operator from California educated me about Pasatiempo and in that moment I realized what a big mistake would have been missing the course, which is a true masterpiece. Long before the trip I already started to read a lot about not only Cypress but also about Pasatiempo and believe me the course holds a lot of history.

We arrived early in the morning and when got into The Club House you Pasatiempo Golf Course - Photo by revieweralready feel there is something special about it, you can see pictures, drawings, souvenirs, history about not only the course but also about Dr Mackenzie as well. And a lot about LPGA Star Juli Inkster who won 7 Career Majors and is the Club Pro! After warming up, we started the game to the first two downhill par 4s, which are wide and generous, but with very tricky greens, the breaks of the putting surfaces are very tough to find. It is fair to say that greens were in superb shape and rolling at a speed of at least 10ft in the Stimpmeter. The first true test came on 3rd, a 235yds par 3 into the wind and uphill, with a very narrow entrance and plenty of bunkers. Although all of us 4 are scratch golfers, only one could score bogey, the other 3 made double bogey!!! Then we came to the very special place of the course, par 5 hole 6 where Dr Mackenzie’s house is located. It is a very simple building but it really shows how simple and special he was. What will make it even better is that I scored my only birdie after drive, drive and a lob wedge towards 20 inches from the hole.

Tee number 10 is where the golf courses starts, and what is even better is that it is not a long course, but yes a very strategic one, and there is were I failed scoring 5 consecutive bogeys from 10 to 14. Although Allister says par 4 16th is the best “two shot hole” he ever designed, I believe 11 and 12 should get some credit as well. All together these back 9 give you the best golfing experience you can imagine. And the best comes the last for that dramatic par 3 18th, where you need a yes-or-yes 160yds carry, if you miss start to count in double bogey again. But job is not finished if you hit the green, as you will find a very tricky one: I had a 10 footer for birdie and could not make it in 5 tries, you could not believe how big the break was. And after golf a huge burger at the Club House ended a perfect day: amigos if you love Augusta, you need to visit Pasatiempo at least once!!!
June 07, 2011
10 / 10
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glpga
the course is in good condition but personally i found it a little overrated. there are better courses around in the area.
April 30, 2011
4 / 10
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Hans Berntson
May 03, 2011
A little overrated you say. I could only wish that the 'average' Swedish course was this good.
Hans Berntson
I played Pasatiempo last August on a trip to NoCal/Oregon and I must say I really enjoyed it. We played 36 and I would recommend that to anyone who is not a regular as the second time around is even more fun. And as a side note, the clubhouse may not have any bearing on the gca, but it is very nice. I only gave this course an eagle because I believe the albatross is for the truly elite courses and later on we played Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald which are clearly better.
March 23, 2011
8 / 10
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David Wilkinson
The fact that Marion Hollins’ vision of Pasatiempo as a rival resort to North Carolina’s golfing paradise, Pinehurst, was never fully realised has created an unmissable opportunity for discerning golfers. For less than half the price of a round at Pebble Beach and without the requirement to stay in a spa hotel, anybody can play the course described by Dr Alister Mackenzie as his best.

The accessibility and friendly welcome of Pasatiempo is not detrimental to the standard of the course. Having played here in July, I experienced pristine fairways leading to firm, fast and true greens. In keeping with other Mackenzie layouts, the course tests every shot in a golfer’s repertoire: Sprawling bunkers deceive the eye’s estimation of distance from the tee, while deep barrancas force considered shot selection and fairway undulations present uphill, downhill and sidehill stances on most holes.

The first two holes look like generous par-4s, with wide and straight fairways playing downhill to inviting greens. However, the Pasatiempo - Dr Alister MacKenzie's House - Photo by DWtrickery of McKenzie’s bunker placement on both, disguises the true length of these 440 and 420-yard tests. This theme continues on to the 200-yard par-3 3rd hole, where a cross-bunker 80 yards short of the green creates the illusion of a par-4. That being said, it is perhaps fitting that the perched location of the putting surface and the extent of sand around it mean that for most mid-handicap players, a bogey is the most likely outcome. A fair two-shot par-4 and a 180-yard par-3 then lead to the uphill par-5 6th hole. The fairway tightens about halfway to the hole, where a row of old houses take the place of trees on the left side. Take the time to walk along the path here and you’ll find a modest white house with green window shutters. A plaque outside reads: ‘Home of the Famous Golf Course Architect: Dr Alister Mackenzie’, marking the place where the man behind Cypress Point, Augusta National and yes, Pasatiempo, spent the last four years of his life. A birdie on the 6th took on extra special meaning for me.

The deepest bunkers on the course protect the par-4 7th but a decent short-iron approach should set most players up for par, before the 170-yard 8th plays back downhill to a green sloping front to back, with a slope on the front left side poised to kick anything landing a fraction short. The front nine closes with a par-5 back up to the clubhouse which plays longer than its 480 yards and presents a tricky approach over three hefty greenside bunkers.

Pasatiempo’s back nine is definitely the strongest half of the course, with more dramatic undulations and deep barrancas. After the long par-4 10th, the first and most severe of these ravines runs along the left side of the 11th fairway, before cutting across diagonally, 160 yards short of the green. The uphill slope exaggerates the threat of the barranca and adds tension to an otherwise relatively routine shot. Number 12 then plays parallel back alongside the 11th, but with the same monstrous trench cutting tighter in front of the green. The key feature of the par-5 13th is a lengthy false front before a y-shaped green, with bunkers set five paces away from the green to present especially testing escape shots.

A short par-3 at number 15 is sandwiched by two outstanding par-4s at 14 and 16. Pasatiempo - 18th Tee - Photo by DWThe former plays over severe undulations, with two prominent gullies meeting at driver length forcing tee shots to aim for the extreme left or right thirds of the fairway. Each route presents different challenges for the approach shot to the elongated green, while playing from the floor of the gullies will inevitably demand a short-iron shot that risks falling short. McKenzie described the 16th hole as his ‘perfect par-4’ and on first impression it seems a surprising claim, as the blind tee-shot is very uncharacteristic of his work. After climbing over the crest of the hill to the landing area though, it quickly becomes apparent that you are facing a jaw-dropping mid-iron shot to a masterful green. From a sidehill lie, the downhill approach will need to carry a cross-gully and the most expansive bunker on the course, before settling on one of three distinct tiers on the putting surface. With this multitude of trials to endure on the way to the green, a challenging two-putt is almost inevitable. The par-4 17th plays back uphill to a green protected only by a sharp drop-off to the right. It serves as a gentle prelude to the dramatic closing par-3. With a 160-yard tee shot over a wasteland chasm to a wide green, protected by a steep ridge and pairs of bunkers in front and behind; the drama created by the picture postcard 18th seems a fitting way to end a thrilling round. -DW
July 09, 2010
10 / 10
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DH
Whilst the timing of my visit wasn't good - the annual round of serious course maintenance had started 1 day previously - the course more than made up for it. The front 9 was excellent, featuring 2 demanding par 3's (esp the 3rd) and the deceptive par 4 7th. Then comes the back 9...a magnificent collection of holes requiring imagination and nerve not to mention most clubs in the bag and your very, very best putting. Prepare to be amazed at the signature 16th hole. As I prepared to leave a fellow non-member approached me and said "as someone that's been fortunate enough to have played Augusta National this course is as close to it as most folks will ever get." Praise indeed.
September 22, 2008
10 / 10
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John McPheson
Pasatiempo and Spyglass are the most underrated courses in the US. Pasatiempo is a thinking man's course. This is where Bobby Jones decided Alistar McKenzie was the man to build Augusta National. The fact that McKenzie thought Pasatiempo was his best work should tell you all you need to know.
May 03, 2007
10 / 10
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