There's a saying among local golfers.."I'm glad I live here because I couldn't afford to visit." The Monterey Peninsula is truly golf heaven, with over 20 course you can play within a half hour's drive from each other....expand that to an hour and you have well over 25 choices. The price to play can run from as little as $39 to as much as $525 a round if you want to try and walk on at Pebble Beach. But, if you are going to be here for several days and want to play multiple rounds there are ways to lower the cost. Know that rates are higher on weekends, so if you can play during the week you will pay less. To get your best rate, start with Golf Now at Golfnow.com
. This site lists openings that haven't been fulfilled and the closer you are to the date you want to play, the better your chances at getting a great rate. Many area courses are listed on Golf Now....Rancho Canada, Laguna Seca, Black Horse and Bayonet, Monterey Pines, Pacific Grove and even Poppy Hills, Quail Lodge, Del Monte and Carmel Valley are on the list.
The mainstay of everyday golfers in Monterey are the two courses at Rancho Canada at the mouth of Carmel Valley and Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, right next door to the Laguna Seca RV Park. You can get good rates on Golf Now for these courses, but if you are going to play over three rounds a year at either one, join their Super Mini Rewards program
. The cost for newcomers is $129 and that gets you super low rates and other benefits..free cart for the first three months of the year....there's also a $50 Senior card that lets you play for $30 but it's an extra $17 for cart. Don't let the low rates fool you....these are championship golf courses...Laguna Seca, in particular is immaculate with a great layout designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr and Sr. I grew up on Rancho and always feel like I'm coming home when I play there. They have two courses, east is a little shorter and easier, but you will like the west as well. While you are at it, if you spring for an extra $50 you also get your NCGA membership..that's worth the price as it will get you amazingly low rates at Poppy Hills (an
NCGA owned course). Poppy Hills is a major championship golf course inside of Pebble Beach...you'll definitely want to play here.
Black Horse and Bayonet are two championship courses in the old Fort Ord area....They have several memberships including the Players Club
that will get you NCGA membership for the $75 fee They are also on Golf Now, so you need to measure whether membership is worth it when you can play, at times, for as little as $59.
By the way, there are some private golf clubs here that you may want to mark off your list. .Cypress Point in Pebble Beach is one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the U.S. How many members,who is a member, etc is not for the public to know...but, that being said, it is possible to play (I played it twice), depending on who you know (my garbage man got me on the last time, but that's a story for another day.) Cypress is also one of the most beautiful courses in the world...so it's worth the effort. In the valley, The Preserve is very private and exclusive. Clint Eastwood's Tehama also in the valley is a private course, but, if you're friends with a member you can play it...beautiful up on the mountain. Jack Nicklaus course, Pasadera on highway 68 is also a private course, but, they do let non members play at various special times...Monterey Peninsula Country Club with its two historic and beautiful courses in Pebble Beach is also an exclusive club, but, again, a member can get you on there..and it's worth the effort, particularly the shore course. Carmel Valley Ranch and Quail are both private courses in Carmel Valley, but, both are listed on Golf Now and you can play them....cost on Golf Now is about $100 a round (that's half price)...Quail has one of the most creative layouts on the Peninsula and it is always in the finest shape of any course here...worth the $100 for a special round.
In the same category as Rancho and Laguna is Pacific Grove Golf Links...this course is like playing two courses in one with the front nine being a tight, wooded course and the back nine right on the ocean and a links course. That nine is more like Saint Andrews in Scotland of any course on the Peninsula. PG has various clubs you can join, but, if you're here visiting, your best bet is GolfNow. Also in the same price range is Monterey Pines..this course, next to the fairgrounds was once the old Navy course, but, has been remodled...again, you can book it on Golf Now.
Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach is a special course and it has been recently renovated. Normal cost to play is $225...but, if you're an NCGA member it's less than half that..so becoming a mini-member at Laguna and Rancho and getting your NCGA membership there makes it worthwhile for a week's worth of golf.
Finally, there are the Pebble Beach courses. Pebble Beach itself is currently going for $525 a round...and it is booked solid much of the time. The course is very tied in to the Lodge and the Inn at Spanish Bay, so the best way to get a tee time at Pebble is to stay at one of those hotels. And, they are pricey.....ocean view is $1,000 a night. But, Spanish Bay and Spyglass are incredible golf courses as well. Spanish has more ocean holes than even Pebble. Also in the group is Old Del Monte which is the oldest course in the same location west of the Mississippi. While it is owned by the Pebble Beach company it is not in Pebble Beach. You can cut your rates on these courses and get tee times if you join the Duke's Club. Membership now is about $340 a year,
but it gives you great rates on Spanish, Spyglass and Del Monte. And, every once in awhile there's even a special to give you a hundred bucks or so off your round at Pebble Beach.
A great place to work on your short game is the Peter hay golf course right next door to the Pebble Beach Golf Course. The Peter hay golf course is a beautiful little nine hole par 3 course... You can play there all day for $30... Just $10 for kids under 18 and free for those even younger. It's right across the street from the Pebble Beach driving range which is another great place to practice the rest of your game. It is wonderful to spend the day in that Pebble Beach atmosphere while you get your game together from all aspects.
So, the bottom line is that playing golf on the Monterey Peninsula is very affordable. If you're coming here for a short vacation, but able to play several rounds you can take advantage of the same programs the locals do. Every golf course here is wonderful and you will be delighted no matter where you play.
This is a list of golf courses in the Monterey area
More Courses near Monterey
To take a tour of all these courses watch this video