Category Archives: Courses

Poppy Hills (Pebble Beach, CA)

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Poppy Hills is one of the best public tracks in California, but gets overlooked in favor of the other high profile courses in Pebble Beach.

I truly believe that if Poppy Hills was located anywhere else in the US, it would rank as one of the top public courses in the country.  It’s a beautiful course with a great layout…the kind of place where you remember every hole after one round.

But Poppy Hills’ *problem* is that its located in Pebble Beach, the greatest golf region in the world.  As a result, it gets overshadowed by top shelf courses like Pebble Beach and Spyglass.  Poppy Hills is one of the best public courses I’ve ever played, but it’s probably the sixth or seventh best course in its area code.

Even though the other courses in the area are the big stars, I highly recommend squeezing in a visit to Poppy Hills during any trip to Pebble Beach.  Here’s why…

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Prestwick Golf Club (Ayrshire, Scotland, UK)

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Prestwick is full of iconic holes, like the par-4 17th, the “Alps.”

As a total golf experience, Prestwick is as good as it gets.  It’s a wonderful layout with a collection of some of the best golf holes in the world.  It’s rich in history, having hosted the first 12 British Opens.  And it’s the most welcoming golf course I’ve ever visited.  I wish I could have spent a week there instead of playing the course only once.  But I’ll be back one day, and I encourage any serious golfer to journey there, as well.

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Silverado Resort – North Course (Napa, CA)

 

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Silverado hosts the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open, and is one of the best golf getaways in California.

Any road to my heart is paved with golf and wine, and perhaps the easiest road to take is the one leading to the Silverado Resort in Napa.  Silverado’s North Course is a great course in the heart of California’s wine country and, for my money, is one of the best golf getaways in California outside of Monterey.

Silverado is also hosting the Safeway Open this week, the PGA Tour’s opening event of the wraparound calendar.  Even more exciting is that the Safeway Open marks the re-return of TIGER WOODS!  If you’re watching the tourney on TV, or if you ever plan to visit Silverado, here’s everything you need to know.

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Links at Bodega Harbour (Bodega Bay, CA)

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The par-5 fifth hole is the highlight of Bodega Harbour, it’s a fun hole with great views.  For the most part, however, the rest of the course is not as interesting.

I’ve lacked the inspiration to put together a review of the Links at Bodega Harbour, mainly because it’s an uninspiring course.  The course has some great views of Bodega Bay and the Sonoma County coast, but otherwise it’s an average course with some unmemorable holes.  It’s the kind of course I’d play if I was already visiting the Sonoma area and found a good rate, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to play there.

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Carnoustie (Carnoustie, Scotland, UK)

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Is Carnoustie hard?  Absolutely.  But don’t be scared away, it’s a great layout and an awesome experience to play.  Pictured here: the short par-3 13th.

Mention Carnoustie to most golfers, and they think “Carnasty,” the nickname given to this famously difficult links on the east coast of Scotland.  Now that I’ve had a chance to play Carnoustie, I’ll confirm what we already know–the course is bloody hard!

But the “Carnasty” moniker doesn’t do the course justice because it causes golfers to overlook the fact that Carnoustie, while incredibly challenging, is also a wonderful course.  Carnoustie’s layout is great, even borderline genius.  The course has more history than just about any other course in the world save for the Old Course at St. Andrews.  And, despite being challenging, the course is 100 percent fair.  Good shots are rewarded, but bad shots are severely penalized.

Carnoustie is an absolute must play on any golf trip to Scotland.  Here are my thoughts about the course, concluding with why I am giving Carnoustie my first ever A+ rating.

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Royal Troon Golf Club (Ayrshire, Scotland, UK)

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Royal Troon has a good share of ordinary holes, but several spectacular ones as well, including the famous short par-3 eighth, the “Postage Stamp.”

“Tam Arte Quam Marte” is the motto for Royal Troon Golf Club.  “As much by skill as by strength.”  It’s an appropriate motto for the host of the 2016 Open Championship. Troon is not a course that favors the bombers.  It’s a relatively straightforward links that rewards the player who can find the middle of the fairway and the middle of the green, then drain some putts.

I had the pleasure of playing Troon last month, just one month before the Open.  It was a phenomenal experience.  The course was in great shape and, although it’s not the most interesting layout, it is still a great challenge, both for weekend golfers like me, and for the tour pros.

Here are my thoughts about Troon, which I hope gives readers some insight about the course before the Open, and also if they ever plan to venture over to Scotland for a round.

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CordeValle (San Martin, CA) *Updated for 2016 U.S. Women’s Open

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The par-5 third hole is one of several scenic holes at CordeValle.  But not only is the course beautiful, it’s also a great venue for a championship event like the U.S. Women’s Open.

Earlier this year, I wrote a lengthy review of CordeValle, host of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open…which takes place this week!  It’s the biggest tournament on the Women’s calendar, so I’ve given my review a little makeover to serve as a guide for the tournament, and also for anyone interested in visiting CordeValle for a round in the future.

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