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Golf on the Monterey Peninsula: Five must-plays for under $200

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
Del Monte Golf Course - hole 7
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While there are no ocean holes at Del Monte, there are rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers and small, undulating putting surfaces. (Courtesy of pebblebeach.com)

Planning to play golf on the Monterey Peninsula? There's more than just Pebble Beach. For instance, Bayonet, Black Horse and Del Monte Golf Course are three stellar plays with green fees under $200.

If you're only making one golf trip to the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach Golf Links has to be at the top of the list. The storied course, which will host its fifth U.S. Open in 2010, is a must-play for every avid golfer, at least once.

But where to go after taking in Pebble Beach? Or what if you don't want to shell out close to $500 to play it? Will everything else be a letdown?

Hardly, especially when you consider there is top-quality golf with pretty good views all around the Peninsula for half the price of Pebble Beach.

Here are five must-plays golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula for $200 or less.

Bayonet Golf Course

The old Fort Ord military course in Seaside was pretty good before, but the Bayonet Golf Course at Bayonet Black Horse is outstanding now. And when you consider that you can play it for just more than $100 on weekends and get lots of great views of Monterey Bay, it's really a bargain.

Beyond that, though, Bayonet, which was recently renovated by Gene Bates, is a superb championship test and in outstanding condition. The course was completely re-grassed with the relatively new Jacklin T1 bentgrass, a rich, dark-green strain specifically developed to hold its own against California natives. Bates also did a brilliant job restoring the bunkers to better than their original form, and there are plenty of those on the narrow fairways of this 7,104-yard par 72.

Black Horse Golf Course

Bayonet's sister course, Black Horse Golf Course, has probably never received the respect that it deserved. But like Bayonet, it, too, benefited from the $13 million renovation that covered both golf courses. Black Horse has long been considered the easier of the two, but that's not exactly a given now.

At 7,024 yards, it's anything but a pushover. And while its serrated bunkers may be a little easier to get out of than the ones on Bayonet, and the fairways are little more generous, the course makes up for it with more undulating and difficult greens. And like Bayonet, there are plenty of good views of Monterey Bay, and Black Horse also has new bentgrass from tee to green.

Del Monte Golf Course

Del Monte Golf Course is the Pebble Beach Resort course you don't hear a lot about, but locals and pros alike love the old layout. In fact, Del Monte, which was designed by Charles Maud, opened in 1897, making it the longest running golf operation west of the Mississippi River.

The course, which is part of the rotation for the Champions Tour's Wal-mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, is just a little more than 6,365 yards. It's always in excellent shape. And while there are no ocean holes, there are plenty of immaculate rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers and small, undulating putting surfaces that make it a real fun test. Plus, you can play it for around $100 or less, which is a real bargain compared to its close neighbors.

Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Course

Often referred to as the "Poor Man's Pebble Beach," Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links is one of the best values in the state with green fees at $45 or less. The back nine, much like Pebble Beach, offers stunning views of the Pacific.

Chandler Egan designed the inland nine of the this 1930s classic, while Jack Neville, the same architect who crafted Pebble Beach, laid out the back nine on the ocean. It may be under 6,000 yards, but with its small greens, there's plenty of challenge to go with the views.

Poppy Hills Golf Course

Coming in right at the $200 mark is Poppy Hills Golf Course, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that's easy to walk and fun to play. Always in terrific shape, Poppy Hills played as the most difficult course in the rotation for the PGA Tour's AT&T National Pro-Am in 2008, which also included Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

At 6,900 yards, the course is set more inland, winding through the Del Monte Forest between groves of Cypress and Monterey Pine trees.

More photos

Black Horse Golf Course - seventh holeBayonet Golf Course - Hole 9

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Monterey Peninsula

    mj09 wrote on: Sep 10, 2009

    The Monterey Peninsula offers the most spectacular golfing I have ever experienced. I was pinching myself the whole time I was there just to make sure I was not dreaming. The Monterey region offers the best golf courses in the world! I just got back from the golf wonderland and must say this was the best golf vacation i have ever had! See the courses for yourself:
    Map of Monterey Peninsula Golf Courses


  • Pacific Grove

    Jay Nichols wrote on: Sep 8, 2009

    After walking around Pebble Beach, my wife and I played Pacific Grove. Spectacular views and shoo-ing deer off the greens was a hoot. I have recommended Pacific Grove to lots of folks who are heading that way. For under a hundred dollars for BOTH of us, it's definitely a bargain!


      • RE: Pacific Grove

        David Gibson wrote on: Sep 9, 2009

        I go out there every year to caddy in the AT&T golf tournament. I always play Pacific Grove and last year it was in great shape. I love the back nine!