Monterey County Beckons with Golf Courses

More than 20 golf courses dot sea-hugging Monterey County, luring golf fans to velvety greens aside azure water and whitecaps against the rocks.


The golf courses in Monterey County attract pros and celebrities, but you can play too.


It’s not the power of love, but the love of golf that brings Huey Lewis back to the links at Pebble Beach every year for the AT&T Pro-Am.

Whether you’ve followed the action on television or in person, you’ve seen pros and celebrities alike strolling velvety greens as the sapphire ocean sparkles in the background. But you might not know that you can follow in their footsteps, because Pebble Beach is a public course.

Consistently rated the nation’s No. 1 public golf course by Golf Digest, it’s as challenging as it is beautiful and has hosted four U.S. Opens. The fifth will be played there during the course’s centennial in 2019. It’s a splurge for most golfers, with a round starting at $495, but it’s also a piece of golfing history.

Monterey County has more than 20 courses, most within an hour’s drive of each other. Many are private, but there are plenty of public courses where you, too, can feel like Huey Lewis or Bill Murray—even if you still haven’t quite gotten that slice under control.

Surprisingly, Pebble is not the oldest course around. That honor goes to the Del Monte Golf Course, also owned by the Pebble Beach Co. Opened in 1897 as part of the Del Monte Hotel, it’s the oldest continuously operating golf course west of the Mississippi. Its daily fee is $110, and the adjacent Hyatt Regency Monterey offers stay-and-play packages. Additionally, Pebble Beach operates Spyglass, set within Del Monte Forest, and The Links at Spanish Bay. Modeled after those in Ireland and Scotland, the latter course offers a more rustic experience among rolling dunes; each day is capped off by the sight and sound of a strolling bagpiper at the first tee around 5:30 p.m.

For truly green greens, the eco-friendly course at Poppy Hills belongs to the Northern California Golf Association. It recently underwent a 12-month renovation to reduce the amount of water and chemicals its maintenance requires. And if you happen to be an NCGA member, your round will cost just $70.

Sprawling in the shadow of the Point Pinos lighthouse, the back nine of nearby Pacific Grove’s scenic municipal golf course has been called “the poor man’s Pebble”—partly because that portion of the course was designed by Pebble Beach course designer Jack Neville.

Just a few minutes farther north on the former Fort Ord, you’ll find the Bayonet and Blackhorse courses. In 2008, both underwent a $13 million renovation that garnered recognition in Golf Digest’s 2009 “Best New Courses” edition. Bayonet is arguably one of the most challenging courses around, while Blackhorse features panoramic views of Monterey Bay.

And that barely scratches the surface of the area’s many courses. The next time you want to spend a few days—or more—strolling in the literal footsteps of pros and celebrities, Monterey County awaits.

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