PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB – Santa Cruz, CA
B+ – Playability & Challenge
A- – Quality of Course
A – Memorability
A – Service Levels
A – Pro Shop
A+ – 19th Hole Experience
A – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
(Written by Jim Allen) … If you ask most golfers to name a historic course on the west coast, you can bet money that the answer will be Pebble Beach. I’m not sure if that is because of their supreme marketing efforts or the fact that their 1919 birthdate is worked into their logo. Another one that is equally-worthy is the Pasatiempo Golf Club, located just 50-miles up the scenic coastline from Pebble in Santa Cruz, California. It ranks number 31 on our places to play. With a lot less fanfare, it was opened a decade after Pebble — but should be mentioned in the same breath. It’s a first-class facility.
Pasatiempo has the aura of a course and clubhouse located in the Deep South, which is kind of strange since it features views of the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay. The tree lines are deep, the surroundings are serene and there are bunkers everywhere. And let’s not forget to mention the bullet-fast undulating greens. The pride and joy of this place is the historic Hollin’s House at Pasatiempo, which is an old-time plantation style home – turned elegant restaurant – that is time-warped in the 1930’s. It was built by Marion Hollins, the U.S. Woman’s Amateur champion in 1921. (My 19th-hole recommendation is the equally-classy TAP ROOM).
I had the opportunity to drop $175 to play this semi-private gem on the back end of a business trip. In fact, this is the first 18-hole course that I ever walked with a caddy. It was also the first time I really appreciated golf carts for what they are – a place to put your stuff. I don’t know about you, but when I golf, I only want a few tees and a ball-marker/divot tool in my pockets – no wallet, no money clip, no change, no cell phone, no glove, no scorecard, no pencil, and no extra golf balls. I had to change that philosophy on this day, because I felt guilty about pawning off my junk on the caddy, who was already lugging my weapons of mass destruction and nine extra golf balls. I ended up walking the round with bulging pockets that made me look like I was carrying a couple pairs of socks. And of course, let’s not forget the true purpose of a cart – a drink holder for your cocktail. I discovered that if I’m forced to carry it, I’m less inclined to order one.
Pasatiempo is loaded with rolling hills and elevation changes. It didn’t take long to figure out that the only place to be is on the fairway – at all costs. Every time I got off the short grass, it cost me at least one stroke. By the turn, I was content chipping back out rather than attempting to thread a tree-laced needle with a low-flying cruise missile.
On this day, I think I only had a dozen level lies. Everything else was side-hill, uphill, downhill, or some ravine-straddling number in the rough. My poor caddy had his hands full keeping me in play, but was very supportive of my efforts. So were the other three members in my foursome, including a polite Chinese man who shot an eraser-assisted 130.
If I was going to lend some advice before tackling this course, I would recommend playing it on Tiger Woods PGA Tour on PlayStation or PSP first. It will give you a good idea of what to expect – especially the elevation changes. Secondly, take a caddy because it is worth at least 10 strokes off your score. Course knowledge is huge here. And finally, spend some time in one of their many traps on their practice range, which is located right next to the first tee. You need to bring your A-game to Pasatiempo! …