Sunday, January 1, 2006
From the Monterey Peninsula to San Diego, discover golf in the Golden State
With the task of breaking down local attractions in an area as large as California almost impossible, heed our advice and plan a vacation that includes experiencing some top designs from one of course architecture’s all-time greats: Alister Mackenzie
The name Alister Mackenzie (1870-1934) evokes instant images of top-tier golf designs. If you have ever had the pleasure of playing one of this transplanted Scotsman’s better U.S. creations—Cypress Point Club, Augusta National or Valley Club of Montecito—the experience no doubt will stick with you forever. The problem is, all of those mentioned above, and many of his other memorable designs are guardedly private.
There are, however, several public Mackenzie courses that one can and should play in California. The best of them is Pasatiempo [link is www.pasatiempo.com] (1929) in Santa Cruz, on the northern rim of the Monterey Bay. Mackenzie lived in a home on one of the fairways at Pasatiempo and continued to refine this design until he passed away. Tree-lined fairways and panoramic ocean views combine with strategic arroyo crossings and Mackenzie’s signature bunkering patterns to create a wonderful, fulfilling experience here.
A bit north, just below San Francisco in the small coastal town of Pacifica, golfers will discover an 18-hole Mackenzie layout called Sharp Park. [link is www.sharpparkgc.com] This design is flatter than Pasatiempo and has fewer ocean peeks, but Mackenzie enthusiasts will enjoy its strategic shot requirements and demanding greens.
North of San Francisco is Northwood Golf Course [link is www.northwoodgolf.com] (1928), a nine-hole Mackenzie course on the Russian River. Huge redwood and fir trees grace play on this unassuming design. And in Sacramento is the newly renovated Haggin Oaks [link is www.hagginoaks.com] (1932), a popular municipal course that boasts very distinct Mackenzie design features. Pittsburg’s Delta View Golf Course [link is www.deltaviewgolfcourse.com](1931) features nine holes of Mackenzie design.
Golfers who enjoy the history and traditions of the game are likely to find an Alister Mackenzie pilgrimage nothing short of sacred. If you count yourself in this category, northern California is the place to do it.
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