Cypress, Pebble, San Fran, Riviera. These are just some of the incredible courses in California.
The Best Golf Courses In California
The state of California sits right next to the Pacific Ocean so the presence of some truly awe-inspiring golf courses comes as no surprise.
Here we have taken a look at the best, of course starting with what may regard to be Alister MacKenzie‘s finest work, Cypress Point.
Regularly voted one of the best courses in the world, Cypress Point on the Monterrey Peninsula features many incredible holes, chief among which is the par-3 15th and 16th.
One of the most iconic golfing venues in world golf, playing Pebble Beach is on the ‘bucket list’ of most enthusiasts of the game. Opened in 1919, the California venue has played host to six US Opens. With holes running along Stillwater Cove and then out onto a peninsula jutting into the Pacific, there are some incredible shots to be hit on the way round.
The short par-3 7th is one of the most famous – 100 yards from an elevated tee straight out towards the ocean. There are few holes that have been photographed more (image at top of the page).
Los Angeles (North)
Originally laid out in 1897, the North course at Los Angeles Country Club had influence from Herbert Fowler, George C. Thomas Jr, and William Bell before Gil Hanse was entrusted with restoration work. He clearly did an outstanding job because the course will get to host its first ever Major Championship in 2023, the US Open.
Crafted in 1915, San Francisco is widely thought to be the first great course designed on the West coast of the United States. A.W. Tillinghast himself admitted that the par-3 7th hole was one of his favourites.
It also has historical significance too as the hole was laid out on the land where the last legal duel took place in American history in 1859.
California Club of San Francisco
One of the most respected courses in the state. According to their website, Willie Locke and A. Vernon Macan were enlisted by the members to help design the original routing which opened on May 26th, 1926. Later, Alister MacKenzie would redesign the bunkering and at least two of the greens, just prior to his work at Cypress Point Club. Kyle Phillips restored the golf course to its “golden age” design and grandeur just over 10 years ago.
George C. Thomas Jr designed Riviera originally with Coore and Crenshaw coming in to renovate the bunkering in 1992. It was one of Ben Hogan’s favourite courses and it is said to have had a construction bill of $250,000 when it opened for play back in 1926!
These days it hosts the Genesis Open which was formerly the Los Angeles Open, one of the biggest tournaments on the PGA Tour.
Opened for play in 1929, Pasatiempo had restoration work done to it in 2007 by Tom Doak who looked to return the course back as close as possible to Alister MacKenzie’s original design. MacKenzie himself loved the place so much that he had a house on the property.
Olympic Club (Lake)
Host of several Major Championships and future venue of the 2032 Ryder Cup, the Lake Course at Olympic Club is one of three courses situated at the oldest athletic club in the United States.
The Lake course is a tough challenge in several ways; it has sloping fairways, encroaching trees and tiny greens that happen to be lightning fast too. San Francisco Golf Club and TPC Harding Park sit right next door.
Widely regarded as one of the best and toughest courses to never host a Major Championship, Spyglass Hill is one of several incredible courses on the Monterey Peninsula. Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula Country Club are nearby and yet it holds its own in every way. Some of you may even remember playing it on the old Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf games.
Torrey Pines (South)
Given his success here, the South course at Torrey Pines is probably Tiger Woods’ favourite course! Perched right on the clifftops, the course was originally designed by William F. Bell before Rees Jones completely rejuvenated the course in the early 2000’s.
This is said to have been one of the toughest projects for Tom Doak‘s Renaissance Golf Design team but they have managed to pull off a spectacular and engaging layout. Dramatic elevation changes are commonplace and there is also a 19th hole par-3 which was introduced to settle any bets and matches.
Monterey Peninsula (Dunes)
Seth Raynor designed the Dunes course at Monterey Peninsula in 1926 which was completed by a partner of Alister Mackenzie, Robert Hunter. It was then remodelled in 1999 by Rees Jones and then Tom Fazio in 2016.
George C. Thomas and William F. Bell partnered up to create this gem that criss-crosses its way over several large canyons. It seemed over the years it slipped away from that original design as Tom Doak and his team came in, in 2017 to completely restore the place.
TPC Harding Park
Located just to the west of San Francisco in California, Harding Park dates all the way back to 1925.
It plays along the shores of Lake Merced and was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also designed the nearby Olympic Club, which hosted the 2012 US Open.
Notable Mentions: Valley Club of Montecito, Mayacama, Rustic Canyon, PGA West (TPC Stadium), Sherwood, Pelican Hill, Links at Spanish Bay, Meadow Club, Stanford University, The Wilshire, Monterey Peninsula (Shore)
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