The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on The Preserve Golf Club

Pebble Beach, California | The Preserve Golf Club

Architect: Tom Fazio, J. Michael Poellot & Sandy Tatum
Year: 2000

19 Pronghorn Run , Carmel, California 93923
(831) 626-8200

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available
on-site accommodations

The Preserve is the fifth and final round of my Monterey Peninsula trip. I was very excited to see this course that is set in a wildlife preserve. It was designed by Tom Fazio who, at the time of this writing, has more golf courses listed in Golf Digest’s Top 100 than any other architect.

My trip to the Preserve started with a dry run two days prior. I didn’t play golf on Wednesday so I did a time trial to find The Preserve. I’d heard that is was in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t want to run the risk of getting lost on my way to play it. I plugged the address into my GPS, took the online directions I’d printed and hit the road.

After driving around Carmel Valley for 30 minutes I finally found the sneaky little side road that would deliver me to the club. It was what I would call a half-lane road. Very narrow and straight up a mountain and back down the other side, switchbacks all the way. At one point I considered ditching my car and getting a mule. This place is REMOTE. Be very careful driving this road! The car in the photo below was abandoned along the side of the tiny road which served as a warning for how dangerous the road can be.
Preserve Golf Club Car
On Friday morning I traversed the half-lane road again and showed up for my tee time in plenty of time thanks to my dry run on Wednesday. I was introduced to Jeff the assistant pro who would be playing with me and my caddie Luke. There was one other guy on the range who took off in a cart in front of us. We never saw him again after the first hole.

We did see quite a bit of other things though. This course is cut into a wildlife preserve. The concept behind it was that you are on a nature hike and happen to have your clubs with you. I must admit that it was pretty weird to be walking down a fairway that is lined with wild turkey down the side. We saw lots of turkey and deer, but that was about it. There is a bobcat that lives near the 8th green, and sometimes lies on the green or the 9th tee box, but he didn’t show his face for us.

I didn’t take a whole lot of photos at this course. It was a nice walk and I was too busy enjoying all the great scenery to bother with the camera for most of the morning. The course was set in the foothills and valleys of the wildlife perserve so it was ideal for lots of elevation changes. Below is a photo of the first hole which was a short par 4 straight downhill.
The Preserve Golf Club
This next photo below is a downhill par 3. This one is a pretty straight forward hole. The rough seemed to be the main line of protection for this course. If you get off the beaten track you will find yourself either in deep rough or native grasses that are going to make it tough to get your ball back in play.
The Preserve Golf Club
What goes down often comes back up. The below photo is the approach to the 3rd green which started the ascent back uphill.
The Preserve Golf Club
The photo below of the 6th green which was a flat straight ahead par 3.
The Preserve Golf Club

The 9th hole below is a great example of what I saw all day. Sweeping beautiful golf holes without another thing around. This place was so remote and they had so much land to work with that a lot of times you couldn’t see any other holes beside the one you were playing.
The Preserve Golf Club
Below is a photo taken from the top of a hill looking down on the 17th green. in the distance you can see the clubhouse and 18th green sitting on the hill.
The Preserve Golf Club
I enjoyed my round at the Preserve and it was a unique experience with it being so isolated and the wildlife preserve aspect. It was completely different from the coastal courses I’d played during the week which made it a nice change of pace. Fazio created a great course here, but for me, the real high point is the setting. Fazio did a great job of not upstaging the natural beauty with the golf course while still creating a fun and enjoyable course.

  • This is a great story and gives a very clear picture of what this place is really like. I, have played the entire Top 100, but I completed the 2002 list and this was not on it at the time– but I would love to go there. I wrote a book about my quest and the website is above.

    I agree that Tom Fazio is the best golf course designer out there today and I love his work and I am sure I would love it here.

    Larry Berle

  • Alec

    Playing The Preserve sometime this year with the pro, super stoked!!!

  • john

    who is the head pro at the preserve golf course. I am trying to play out there on my trip to pebble beach

    • golftripper

      As far as I know it is still John Pietro