The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore)


Pebble Beach, California | Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore)

Architect: Bob Baldock / Mike Strantz
Year: 1961 / 2004

3000 Club Road, Pebble Beach, California 93953
(831) 373-1556

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available


This was my second round of the day. When someone asks for your best 36 hole day I’m not sure it gets much better than Cypress Point in the morning and Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore course in the afternoon. Some days are pretty good.

The Monterey Peninsula Country Club is an old club dating back to the 1920s. They have 36 holes between their Dunes course and Shore course. The Shore course is the one that is on the Top 100 list and it boasts the most seaside holes of any course on the Monterey Peninsula with 13.

Although the club itself dates back to the 1920s the Shore course is brand new . . . well, sort of. In January of 2002 the club awarded the redesign contract of the Shore course to Mike Strantz who completely rerouted the course, and from what I understand the new layout is completely unrecognizable from the old. Unfortunately, the new Shore course ended up being Mike Strantz’s legacy as shortly after the course reopened in 2005 Mike lost his life to cancer.

Although MPCC is a private club I was able to arrange for playing privileges and a guest card to make charges by having my club pro call and do an introduction. A few months later I arrived and picked up my guest card at what appears to be a very new clubhouse. I believe I had read somewhere that is was also very recently renovated. With it’s grandiose appearance and amenities it was a stark contrast to the subtle and understated clubhouse I’d seen earlier that day at Cypress Point.

After checking in with the pro shop I headed out the range. The wind was starting to kick up a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad yet. I met up with Gavin McCray who was on the bag for me this afternoon. Gavin was a nice and very talkative guy. He’d been around the Monterey Peninsula his entire life and, according to him, been fired from every club on the Peninsula. He was quite a character and had made his home for the last several years here at the MPCC where he was one of four caddies. Working for MPCC kept him out of the caddie management company that has taken over most of the caddie programs on the peninsula.

One note about using a caddie on the Monterey Peninsula as well as at many other resort courses around the country. These guys are forced to give a percentage of the bag fee to the management company as a fee for booking them. The seniority level of the caddy dictates exactly how much they lose. New guys can pay as much as 50% of the bag fee for the privilege of doing a loop. If you use a caddie, which I believe you absolutely should any time they are available, make sure you tip them well if they do a good job for you. After the management company cut and taxes these guys really depend on the tips they earn.

Gavin and I headed out and played the first three holes rather uneventfully. The course starts as a parkland style course before taking the player out to the 13 coastal holes. Upon arriving at the 4th tee box you get your first glimpse of the coast. Below is a photo of the tee box for the 4th hole. The gold tees you see aimed towards the right in the photo are actually the 17th tees. The 4th hole which takes you out to the shore and 17th hole which bring you back into the woods tee off from the same area so it is a cluster of several tee boxes all in the same area.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
Below is a photo of the 6th hole which is a par 5 with a nice looking green complex highlighted by the unusual rock formation behind the hole.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
The 7th hole pictured below is a 207 yard par 3. I hit an ugly tee shot that ended up OK being just short of the green. I gladly took the up and down for par.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
Below is the 9th hole which yielded my one and only birdie for the round despite several really good chances on second 9 holes.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
As we made the turn and headed in at the 10th hole the wind really started to pick up. The few birdie opportunities that I had on the last 9 holes were thwarted more than once by putts being blown all over the green by the severe wind. Getting your ball to the green did not take the wind out of play.

Below is the 11th hole which is a 170 yard par 3 and one of the more picturesque holes I saw on the Monterey Peninsula. This is where I first realized that the wind was going to be a major factor. I hit a great 6 iron right at the flagstick only to watch the wind grab it on the descent and land it under the scraggly tree left of the bunker.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
The 12th hole is a really long par 5, 588 yards. With the wind it was brutal. I hit driver, utility, utility and was managed to be on the green in 3. The wind wreaked havoc on my putting here again and I had to take a bogey. Below is a picture taken from the tee box where the green looks a mile away.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
After the 12th hole the wind really started to pick up and was relentless for the rest of the round. The photo below is from the 15th green and you can see how severe the wind was pushing the flagstick over.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
The 12th green is shown below in a photo taken from the 16th tee box. You can’t see the bend in the flag because its pushing straight towards me but you can see the churn in the sea. As tough as the wind was making golf today, I can’t imagine being out on a boat in those waters.
 
Monterey Peninsula Country Club - Shore Course
 
The Shore course at MPCC is a great design by Mike Strantz. It made for a tough round in the afternoon when the wind was strong and especially tough as my second round on a 36 hole day. The scenery was unbelievable and I enjoyed the course even though it was my worst score of the trip. At one point I hit a 5 iron into a green from 110 yards . . . I normally would hit that club 180 yards. It was a tough time on the second 9, but a great course and an enjoyable round regardless.

  • Jacob

    Hi,
    I am planning a golf vacaition for my mother and I, and I was wondering if you think that getting onto the Cliffs Course at the Olympic Club is hard to get onto. I really want to make it special for her!! 🙂
    Thanks,
    P.S.(Thinking about Cypress Point, S.F.C.C., M.P.C.C., etc. but they seem to hard to get onto 🙁 )

    • bruce

      Jacob, Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club are as difficult to play as Augusta National and Pine Valley. However the Monterey Peninsula courses can be had if you are a member of a private club. Simply have your club pro call and make the arrangements. Sure it will cost you but playing both those courses are worth it.. Take a caddy if you can!! The Olympic Club is much easier if you happen to know a club member. Some other courses within 10 miles of Pebble Beach are, Poppy Hills, The Bayonet Course at Fort Ord, also the Black Horse course at the Fort isn’t too shabby either. You can also check out Old Delmonte the oldest 18 hole course west of the Mississippi, The muni in Pacific Grove is worth a try being it is the least expensive of the courses I mentioned. Known as the poor mans Pebble Beach. The back 9 are among the sand dunes near the Pacific. The 2 most upscale courses are Spanish Bay a links layout and the Famous Spyglass Hill with the first 5 holes in the sand dunes and the final 13 winding through the Delmonte forest. A MUST PLAY!!

      In San Francisco TPC at Harding Park and the Presidio are the City’s 2 best public layouts. Both are in the city limits. A short drive from downtown! And halfway between San Francisco and Monterey in Santa Cruz is an Alister MacKenzie gem Pasatiempo. Pricey but well worth it if you are in the area.

  • Ryan

    Going to Pebble in September. Would you mind telling me offline what MPCC charged you for guest fees?

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  • ortho69

    Great write up and pics. Thinking of going out there and playing MPCC. What month of the year did you play out there? Were you allowed to walk?
    Did you get to play the dunes course?

    Thanks

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Ortho, I was there in mid April. The club provided a caddie for me and I was allowed to walk. I did not play the Dunes course, but I’ve heard great things and I really need to get back out there and try to play there!