Pasatiempo was a course I discovered when reading up on the Top 100 public course lists and upon closer review have heard it raved about by many in the golf media. The course currently ranks on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 and both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses you can play lists. Being just about an hour up the road from the Monterey Peninsula, Pasatiempo makes a perfect addition to any Pebble Beach golf trip. Incidentally, the name of the course translates to hobby or pastime which seems pretty fitting.
The development of the course involved a dream team of the early 20th century. Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, and Dr. Alister MacKenzie, a highly regarded golf course architect of the day, collaborated to design and develop the course. Hollins was a very progressive woman in her day. She was a developer, entrepreneur, and athlete in a time when that was not at all common for women. She was a true trailblazer! I think Dr. MacKenzie’s reputation speaks for itself. That tends to happen when you design places such as Augusta National Golf Club, Cypress Point Club, and Crystal Downs Country Club. Something you may notice from that list is that they are all private. Pasatiempo provides a great opportunity for the general public to play one of the good doctor’s courses.
In the early 1990s a restoration effort began at Pasatiempo for which Tom Doak was commissioned to restore the old gem and bring it back to MacKenzie and Hollins’ original vision. After many years of work the restoration was fully completed in the fall of 2007. It was a slow process which was actually nice because it allowed the course to stay open during the construction which is something I am sure all the players appreciated.
Pasatiempo was the second and last golf stop on my California excursion. I had a 7:30 tee time and didn’t arrive in time to hit the practice tee. Who really needs that anyway when you are raring to go? I was paired with an employee of the club, which was great and allowed for some keen insight into the course. Once again, my wife played the role of photo journalist and took the photos of this great course.
There are three teeing options at Pasatiempo – 6,521, 6,125, and 5,656 yards. My playing partner mentioned that the course would play longer than the stated yardage so I decided to play the middle set of tees, which played to a par of 70.
Hole 1 – 440 yards – Par 4
Pasatiempo tests you right from the start with a long par 4. This two-shotter plays quite a bit downhill so you will get some roll on your tee shot.
The second shot is to a raised green. The photo seen here is from about 125 yards. You will see the beginning of a theme with the greenside bunkers and that theme is that they should be avoided.
Here is a shot of the green, with the pin in the front sitting down in a bowl.
Hole 2 – 420 yards – Par 4
The 2nd is another long hole, but again the tee shot is aided by the downhill slope. A drive down the middle with a little cut works best here.
The approach shot, seen below, is from about 165 yards.
This is a photo of the green from behind. There is ample room on the green, but you still need to avoid the bunkers.
Hole 3 – 195 yards – Par 3
The first short hole was really anything but. It played about a club longer than the card said, but we caught a break since the flag was in the front. It was at this point that my playing partner mentioned that Pasatiempo does not ease you into the round. No kidding!
A look at the green from the fourth tee. As you can see in the previous photo, you do not want to be in the front, right greenside bunker. It is about 8 feet below the green surface.
Hole 4 – 358 yards – Par 4
Finally a little breather! A 225 yard shot down the middle here is all you need.
The approach shot, seen below, has a drop off to the right that should be avoided.
The green has many undulations as you can see here. This would be another theme of the day. The architect also designed the greens at Augusta National, so it should be no surprise.
Hole 5 – 174 yards – Par 3
The 5th hole is a great par three. The green allows for a multitude of pin placements. Yet again, massive greenside bunkers frame this hole. The front right side has a big false front to note when the flag is placed on that side.
Hole 6 – 516 yards – Par 5
The first par 5 is laid right out in front of you. A tee shot played on a line just right of the fairway bunker in the distance will leave a good angle.
The 6th hole has a little piece of history associated with it. It is on this hole that Dr. MacKenzie lived until his death. His home is very close to the edge of the hole and is noted with a plaque as seen below.
And here is the house of the brilliant golf course designer.
Hole 7 – 335 yards – Par 4
The tee shot, seen here, plays slightly uphill through some mature trees. It had the effect of making me concentrate to hit the fairway. A 200 yard shot up the middle will leave a straight forward second shot.
The approach here plays more uphill than the tee shot. This photo is from about 125 yards. Again, you don’t want to be in those greenside bunkers.
The green slopes back to front and left to right and there is a ridge you can somewhat see here. The putt is a lot easier if you are on the correct level.
Hole 8 – 162 yards – Par 3
This hole is a great downhill one-shotter. You can see a big slope on the left side of the green. You can take my word for it that you do not want to be chipping from the left side to this flag. My double bogey is proof!
Hole 9 – 473 yards – Par 5
The 9th hole bends slightly to the right and a good line is at the players in the distance. This one can be reached in two.
The approach shot is up a steep hill with the road to the left. This is the hole that you pass when driving to the clubhouse.
Here is a zoomed in shot of the approach. Take more club!
The green is relatively shallow. Since it’s an older course, this green was meant to accept wedges, not woods and hybrids. It also has a ridge in the middle of the green, just beyond the flag seen here.
Hole 10 – 440 yards – Par 4
The 10th hole is another uphill drive. A well struck tee shot will easily clear the ravines.
The approach shot into the 10th plays really downhill after the peak with your tee ball. Note the massive front greenside bunker. This is another deep one.
The green is large and slopes back to front.
Hole 11 – 379 yards – Par 4
The 11th hole, yet again, plays up another hill. Are we starting to see a trend here?
The approach is up a steep hill. My playing partner mentioned this would be the longest 379 yard hole I would ever play. He was right, I hit 3 wood from 195 yards out of the rough, so it played as about a four club hill for me. The players on the right are on the green.
The green was too big to get from a close shot. Here is the back section where the flag was on this particular day.
Hole 12 – 373 yards – Par 4
Aha! A downhill par 4, just what I needed. According to my partner, at the annual college tournament held here they make the left side of the hole out of bounds. I was a little confused. He said that since the 11th and 12th run parallel, players would try and hit huge cuts down the 11th and try to hit the green. He said it goes back to Tiger when he played at Stanford. This is a crazy tee shot to try. Think about this if you get a chance to play it. For us mere mortals, a hybrid down the fairway mowing line is all you really need here.
The approach shot here is from about 125 yards.
Hole 13 – 485 yards – Par 5
The 13th hole bends to the left. A good line is just right of the fairway bunker.
Here is a photo of the second shot. A long tee shot would allow you to get home in two.
The approach shot here is from about 120 yards. This hole is just another example of exquisite bunkering at Pasatiempo.
The expansive green has quite a bit of slope in the front portion. The flag was sitting in a little bowl that funneled my shot close even though it landed five yards right of the pin.
Hole 14 – 384 yards – Par 4
The tee shot here is straightforward. A shot at the tall trees in the distance will work just fine.
Below is the approach shot.
This shot shows the green from the back right.
Hole 15 – 120 yards – Par 3
The 15th is a delightful short par 3. Just because it is short, don’t think that it’s a pushover. The bunkering is extensive and there is a hazard along the left side, short of the green, and long.
Hole 16 – 365 yards – Par 4
This is one of the course’s iconic holes. I haven’t seen a fairway that is domed like this one before. A good line is up the left side at the tallest tree. Balls hit too far right will run out of fairway.
The photo of the approach shot seen below tells its own story. Note the huge bunkers and three-tiered green.
Here is a shot of the three-tiered green.
And here is a zoomed in shot of the green. You definitely want to be on the appropriate level. I don’t think you could get a putt from the front to the back of the green.
Hole 17 – 363 yards – Par 4
This is a straightforward hole. However, if you hit it too far up the right it can go down a hill and there is a cart path there. This is only an issue if you pound the driver.
The approach shot plays uphill to a flat green. You don’t want to miss to the right of the green.
Hole 18 – 143 yards – Par 3
Pasatiempo is different from many highly rated courses in that in finishes with a par 3. I like the break from tradition. The hole is downhill over a sprawling hazard.
Here is a zoomed in shot from the tee.
This shot of the green is from short and right. As with most of the greens, there is plenty of slope.
Pasatiempo was a phenomenal golf course and I really enjoyed it. I am not an architecture expert, but I found the design, layout and routing of the holes to be very memorable. I believe that if this course were located on the water, it would be on all the Top 100 lists and ranked quite a bit higher. As I mentioned above, I believe the bunkering is one of the hallmarks of this course in that they posed real hazards, were in the exact places they needed to be, and framed the fairways and greens perfectly.
The club itself is very low-key with its small clubhouse and relaxed atmosphere. I have heard good things about the Hollins House for food, but I didn’t get a chance to get in there. Overall, the day was great. I had great insight from my employee playing partner, I had my wife taking pictures, and I got to play 18 great holes in two and a half hours. Days on the golf course don’t get much better than that.