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Pasatiempo Golf Club

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GOLF A TRAVEL Player’s Guide Courtesy of Pasatiempo Golf Club The opening tee shot at Pasatiempo, with Monterey Bay in the distance, is one of the most scenic anywhere 76 HK GOLFER・AUG 2015 HKGOLFER.COM


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Legacy Dr Alister MacKenzie was the man responsible for designing a collection of the world’s best-known courses – but it is at Pasatiempo where you’ll find arguably his own most favoured work, writes Paul Prendergast. HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・AUG 2015 77 Personal Most A


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Courtesy of Pasatiempo Golf Club Dr Alister MacKenzie’s distinctive bunkering on show at the par-5 13th (top) and the third, one of the greatest par-3s in the game 78 HK GOLFER・AUG 2015 hen commenting to friends and fellow golfers, professionals and single figure amateurs among them, that I was champing at the bit at the opportunity to visit Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California this past June, I invariably drew a blank. “You’re doing what, at where?” They could be excused, I suppose, given the tyranny of distance and the saturation of mainstream golf media that focuses heavily on professional tours and personalities, and less on the game’s history and course architecture. Pointing out that this storied masterpiece was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, the creator of Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne West, Augusta National and countless others clearly piqued their interest however, and soon their envy was palpable. Pasatiempo evolved from the vision of a remarkable woman in Marion Hollins, a US Women’s Amateur champion and entrepreneur who was a driving force in the founding of the iconic Cypress Point Club nearby on the Monterey Peninsula. Hollins brought MacKenzie to America to design Cypress Point and, in 1928, secured his services again to design her next major project, Pasatiempo. Such was the Scotsman’s love for the course and the area that he lived in a house W adjacent to the sixth hole for the final four years of his life. With MacKenzie watching on from a sizeable gallery, Pasatiempo’s official opening day on 8 September, 1929 featured a match consisting of Hollins, the great Bobby Jones – a nine-time Major champion at the time and a year shy of his famous Grand Slam year of 1930, reigning US Women’s Amateur champion Glenna Collett and the reigning British Amateur champion, Cyril Tolley. The significance of MacKenzie’s work at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo was not lost on Jones. The pair had met at St Andrews some years earlier and so taken was he by the quality of these northern California golf courses, he lured MacKenzie east to his home state of Georgia to co-design a golf course on a promising piece of land called “Fruitlands” that he had purchased in 1931. The pair’s collaboration opened for play in 1933 and is familiar to even my aforementioned friends back home – the Augusta National Golf Club. From Bob Jones to Tiger Woods, the greats of the game have trodden the fairways of Pasatiempo and images from their visits are framed in Hollins House, a property built in 1929 by Marion on a commanding high promontory just up from the clubhouse looking down to Monterey Bay. Pasatiempo is considered by many to be one of the great walks in golf and likewise, Hollins House would have to be regarded as one of the premium post-round relaxation spots the game HKGOLFER.COM


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has to offer. Sitting on the verandah, enjoying pork belly chicharrones, littleneck clams and Blue Point oysters from the tapas menu, as the sun slipped slowly into the Pacific, made prising ourselves away from Pasatiempo excruciatingly difficult. Noted course architects Tom Doak, who is best known for his designs at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes, was engaged by Pasatiempo to create a masterplan for the ‘Preservation and Enhancement’ of Dr MacKenzie’s creation, based on the discovery of some long-lost photographs and slides from the club’s early history by club historian, Robert Beck. “With a course of such historic significance and recognized quality of design, our mission in formulating a master plan is simple: to preserve the MacKenzie legacy as well as possible, considering the modern realities of golf,” Doak said. Completed in 2007 but carried out with reverential care and attention over a number of years, the results from the restorative work have been stunning. The bunkering and green complexes are classic MacKenzie and Doak has restored them to their original glory – gaping faces of white taunting you from tees and fairways, subtle to wildly undulating greens of superb quality to test the nerve and short game prowess of even the very best. The opening tee shot, with the town of Santa Cruz beyond and Monterey Bay glistening in HKGOLFER.COM the background sets the early scene for a playing experience of a lifetime. The rolling terrain provides for great variety in the routing of holes, as do the integration into the design of the deep ravines, or barrancas that crisscross the property. Playing along and across these unkempt natural areas are a feature at Pasatiempo and their appearance have been restored to their menacing best based on the images of the course from early years. Some of the layout’s most photogenic holes feature these deep barrancas, none more so than the tee shot from the 10th and the par-4 11th, arguably the most exacting hole on the course. The par-three 15th is a hauntingly beautiful short hole that can bare teeth, especially with a pin located on the sliver of green to the left between bunkers and ravines front and back, as it was on the day we played. Rarely have I held my breath in fear – and exhilaration – over the fate of a soft 9-iron in my memory. Aside from the barranca holes, Pasatiempo’s remaining collection of par-3s are magnificent both in terms of design and diversity. Doak said of the par-3 third: “Combining its actual length (214 yards), uphill grade, and severity of hazards around the green, this hole must rank right up with the fifth at Pine Valley as the longest playing par-3 we have seen.” Pasatiempo also boasts some of the most strategically challenging par-four holes but the 16th lays claim to being possibly the finest. The HK GOLFER・AUG 2015 79


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The multi-layered ‘Sitwell’ green at the 16th The treacherous shot par-3 15th Courtesy of Pasatiempo Golf Club tee shot bends slightly left over a crowned fairway to a downhill landing area, adding to the acute demands of the second shot. The green however, beggars belief in terms of its length and multi-layered design, where seemingly only the back of three separate tiers allows for reasonably flat pin locations. MacKenzie’s controversial 12th green at Sitwell Park in England is re-created here and the Pasatiempo version is close to 60 paces from falsefront to back. Built in an era when walking was la mode de golf, the fairly small tract of land in the sandy Santa Cruz forest area with tees and greens built very close to each other is an intrinsic element of Pasatiempo’s timeless appeal. The close confines remind of other classic golf courses of the time, constructed on similarly restricted acreage compared to their modern day cousins. Venerable Merion in suburban Philadelphia, host to five US Opens, occupies just 125 acres (50 hectares) while Kingston Heath on the Melbourne sandbelt is regarded as brilliantly routed on approximately 160 acres, not all of which are playing surfaces, which wind between tracts of sand and native vegetation. By contrast, Pasatiempo provides its fascinating and challenging test of golf from a canvass of just 66 acres of irrigated turf. Pasatiempo was an absolute joy and honour to play and an experience that needs to be savoured as much as any in the neighbouring Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas that might enjoy greater prominence. pasatiempo.com HKGOLFER.COM 80 HK GOLFER・AUG 2015


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MEMORABLE MONTEREY – NEARBY CLASSICS CYPRESS POINT One of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs and unrivalled in terms of its spectacular coastal location, the Cypress Point Club in Monterey is routinely ranked in the top handful of golf courses in the world. Like Pasatiempo, Cypress Point was also designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1928. MacKenzie himself said of the site he was blessed to work with at Cypress Point: “I do not suppose anywhere in the world is there such a glorious combination of rocky coast, sand dunes pine woods and cypress trees." Unless you are invited by one of the very small number of members, it is virtually impossible to play Cypress, although you will be able to get a taste of the splendour of the layout by driving along 17-Mile Drive. The famous back-to-back par-3s, the 15th and 16th holes that are routed across jagged cliffs along the Pacific, are among the most photogenic holes in world golf. If a tee time does come your way, kiss the ground and grab it with both hands. If you have another spare, I’ll be on the next plane. The famous par-3 seventh at Pebble Beach PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS By contrast to its northern neighbour, Pebble Beach is accessible to the public who flock in droves year-round to one of the most celebrated and well known golf courses on the planet. With nine of the 18 holes taking in the dramatic Pacific Ocean coastline, Pebble has been exhilarating players with its breathtaking scenery since it opened in 1919. Perhaps only the 17th and 18th holes on the Old Course at St Andrews can rival the photo opportunities that fans seek out at the tiny par-3 seventh, the par-4 eighth, which plays over the yawning chasm of Stillwater Cove, and the iconic par-5 18th snaking along Carmel Bay, where national championships and Pebble Beach ProAm victories have been decided. Pebble has recently restored the hour-glass shaped 17th green, the site of great many fabulous US Open memories, including Jack Nicklaus’ 1-iron to inches in 1972 and Tom Watson’s famous chip-in birdie to clinch the championship in 1982. pebblebeach.com Following the renovation, Poppy Hills was unveiled as co-host alongside Pebble Beach of the Nature Valley First Tee Open on the Champions Tour. poppyhillsgolf.com SPYGLASS HILL Robert Trent Jones Snr was responsible for the design of the highly regarded Spyglass Hill layout, which opened for play in 1966. A perennial host of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the 1999 US Amateur, this striking and notoriously difficult layout is split between holes routed between sand dune and ice plant terrain closer to the coast over the opening holes, before turning inland to meander through the Del Monte Forest. While the course is accessible to public play, advanced bookings may only be available if lodging at one of the Pebble Beach hotels. pebblebeach.com TEHAMA GOLF CLUB Perched high above the Monterey Peninsula on the Carmel Ridge, the privately-owned Tehama Golf Club was established on serene, rolling terrain that its famous owner, Clint Eastwood, was inspired to purchase during the early years of his film career. Expanding his land holdings when a neighbouring piece of property suitable for a golf course became available, Eastwood developed the golf course and an exclusive gated community just before the turn of the century. Courtesy of Pebble Beach Golf Links 81 POPPY HILLS Owned by the Northern California Golf Association, the public-access layout at Poppy Hills is one of the newer courses (it opened in 1986) on the Monterey Peninsula, winding through the thick pines of the Del Monte Forest. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, Poppy Hills played host to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am alongside Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach for 18 years and has been a popular destination for both NCGA members and visitors to the peninsula. As part of an extensive renovation of the course that was completed in 2013, Jones Jnr undertook a similar exercise to the work Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw completed at Pinehurst No 2 prior to the 2014 U.S. Open, removing acres of turf to expose the property’s natural sandy terrain. The golf course was designed in 1999 by the late Jay Morrish and is kept to immaculate standards for members who are able to join on an invitation-only basis. The Spanish-inspired clubhouse includes ‘Callahan’s Grill’ – named after Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character – where a chance meeting with the man himself may not be out of the question. tehamagolfclub.com HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・AUG 2015



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