The Perfect Drive

Pebble Beach isn't the only California course with killer views

The Resort at Pelican Hill has two Tom Fazio designs. Pictured here is No. 18 on its North Course.

This month when Pebble Beach hosts the 110th U.S. Open, viewers are sure to see plenty of aerial shots of azure waters crashing into the rocky outcroppings framing the course. The ocean, nicknamed the world’s largest water hazard, comes into play on nine holes. Yup, at Pebble, it’s all about location, location, location.

But, of course, location comes with a price tag. One round at Pebble costs a minimum of $1,700. (To play, you must stay at least two nights at the resort.) What if you like killer views that don’t kill your wallet?

Well, from San Diego to San Francisco, there are many courses on or very near the coast that offer Kodak-worthy moments–and for a fraction of the price.

This month, we take a look at eight of them, most of which can be found along the Pacific Coast Highway. Taken together, they all add up to the perfect drive.

Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla, California.
Designed by William P. Bell, Torrey Pines Golf Course hosted one of the most thrilling golf tournaments ever played, the 2008 U.S. Open. (Need we remind you of what happened?) Its two courses are showcased each year at the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Buick Invitational). Considered a true “public” course, Torrey’s recent rate hikes have some locals fuming (weekend rates for San Diego residents shot up 49% last year alone). Nonresidents have to pay more. Green Fees: $38-$218.

Monarch Beach Golf Links, Dana Point, California.
This Robert Trent Jones, Jr., design hasn’t ever hosted a major golf tournament, but it does boast major ocean views on every hole–two of which border the beach. On your birthday, get free golf, and look for the five- and nine-hole rates. Green Fees: $115-$195.

Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, California.
After the recent addition of an ultraluxurious hotel, spa and clubhouse, The Resort at Pelican Hill has emerged as one of California’s most exclusive resorts. Its two Tom Fazio designs (the North and South courses) are perched on a bluff and offer postcard views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. With generous landing areas off the tee, the courses’ biggest challenge remains their sneaky-quick greens. When you’re not saying, “Wow” at the ocean views, you’re saying “Wow” at the palatial homes above the resort. Currently being built: a home with a 75-car garage. Who said times were tough? Green Fees: $140-$325.

Ah, Scotland. Er, Half Moon Bay, only 30 miles from San Francisco.

MILE 105
Trump National Golf Club, Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Redesigned by the Don himself (after Pete Dye’s original), Trump National is a terraced toughie (nearly every hole parallels the ocean). Criticized by LPGA players for being too tough after it hosted the 2005 Office Depot Championship, it boasts all the excess that you’d expect from Trump: a voluminous, artificial waterfall; gilded clubhouse; and views that, as it were, money can buy. Green Fees: $80-$275.

MILE 221
Sandpiper Golf Club, Goleta, California.
Located just north of Santa Barbara, Sandpiper Golf Club has hosted a number of professional Tour events, including the PGA Tour Tournament Players Series. Designed by William F. Bell, the course opened in 1972 and features some pretty views of the Pacific, although its proximity to an offshore oil refinery has disappointed some. Green Fees: $74-$159.

MILE 443
Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses, Seaside, California.
After a recent, $13 million renovation spearheaded by Gene Bates, these two courses, originally part of Fort Ord, are tougher than ever. (Bayonet held a U.S. Open qualifier this year and was selected by the PGA Tour to host Stage Two of Q-School.) Located only 10 miles from Pebble Beach, both courses were originally designed by two Army generals and christened in honor of local units. Green Fees: $85-$160.

Alister MacKenzie’s Pasatiempo is a must-play.

MILE 490
Pasatiempo Golf Course, Santa Cruz, California.
Okay, so Pasatiempo isn’t exactly on the coast, but it’s less than five miles away, and after a recent renovation, this classic is better than ever. The semiprivate Alister MacKenzie (Augusta National, Cypress Point) design is known for its unique bunkering and contoured greens. It’s a must-play, because, really, how many times does one get to play a masterpiece? Green Fees: $220.

MILE 525
Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Half Moon Bay, California.
Thirty miles from downtown San Francisco, Half Moon Bay has two courses with British Isles-like views. The Old Course, designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane measures about 350 yards more than the Arthur Hills-designed Ocean Course. With extra yards comes mandatory carts on the Old Course. Feel free to play the game as it should be on the new Ocean. You’ll feel like you’re abroad. Other UK/Ireland similarities: no driving range, and it gets foggy. Green Fees: $50-$205.

Greenlight Specials

Monarch Beach Golf Links
One round per day with stay at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. From $795.

Unlimited Golf Getaway at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. $475/night.

Torrey Pines Golf Course
Signature Package. Two nights at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, one round, full breakfast. $1,379.

The Resort at Pelican Hill
Golf and Spa Experience. Two rounds of golf per night. $645-$2,225.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links
Tee for two. Two rounds of golf on either course, plus overnight accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Sign up for weekly enewsletter for great deals, too. $549-$809.

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