This place is spectacular, but, to be honest, that term just doesn’t do it justice
HALF MOON BAY, California (March 5, 2018) – There are times when you walk the pair of finer-than-fine golf courses at the Half Moon Bay Resort that you’d swear you’re playing either a seaside links in Scotland or a parkland track on the outskirts of London.
Maybe it’s the chill of the misty air when you’re along the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean as you tackle the meat of the Ocean Course on the resort’s southern side.
Or perhaps it’s the way that lush trees and vegetation, and flawless conditioning, direct you around the inland holes of Half Moon Bay’s Old Course, right up until you stride up the hill behind the 16th green and the sight of the endless view of the Pacific hits you right between the eyes as you prepare to play the par-3 17th with the ocean as your backdrop.
Regally set on the California coastline, equidistant from San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, Half Moon Bay Resort is one of Northern California’s only luxury golf destinations.
Set on the bluffs of the Pacific, just 19 miles from San Francisco International Airport and 45 minutes from San Jose International Airport, this enclave – home to Half Moon Bay Golf Links’ two courses and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay – radiates stately ambiance with a Georgian revival estate and 36 holes of oceanfront golf.
The joy of being here is in taking in the total package and making this place your own. First there’s the drive down the California coastline from the Golden Gate or over cypress- and pine-covered hills on the way over from the Silicon Valley. Once in the town of Half Moon Bay, there’s the push out onto the ledge of the Pacific onto the resort property with its striking hotel hanging above the water.
Then it’s up to each one of us to figure out how many layers of clothes to wear in dealing with Half Moon Bay’s microclimate, an effect that will have golfer in short sleeves one minute, down vests and rain suits and hour later and running for a spot near the resorts fire pits as soon as the round is done.
Designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane and opened in 1973, The Old Course is an American classic whose lush parkland-links routing features 7,001 yards of challenge, distinguishing edges and corridor views of the Pacific.
The Old Course finishes at one of the highest ranked holes in the world – the 405-yard par-4 18th, that culminates on a bluff with dazzling coastal vistas at the base of the hotel. It has played host to numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers and demands strength, especially off the tee, and will test all facets of your game.
Where the Old Course is somewhat protected from the elements through its first 16 holes, the Ocean Course is totally exposed to the whims of Mother Nature. Perched on a bluff high above the roaring Pacific, the Ocean Course boasts sea views at every turn and quartet of holes that finish the round that are considered among the finest on the Pacific Coast.
Opened in 1997, and designed by renowned landscape architect Arthur Hills, the Ocean Course (shown above) delivers “firm and fast” fairways, with wispy native grasses accenting the tees joining forces to transport players and guests alike back to the game’s Old World origins.
In February, the two courses at Half Moon Bay Golf Links won the Greenskeeper.org awards for 2017’s Best Playing Conditions for Northern California. The awards are based on direct feedback from active golfers after playing the course all year long — not simply spot checks.
It would be easy to say that the golf experience at Half Moon Bay is spectacular, but, to be honest, that term just doesn’t do it justice.
Editor’s note: This feature originally appeared in Texas Golf Insider magazine and was written by this author.