We have reviewed numerous facilities that have more than one 18 hole layout on site. They typically are very similar in one aspect, quality of the turf grass from tee to green. This is simply due to the fact that the same capable greens keepers and superintendent maintain both layouts. This is more than obvious at Black Horse and Bayonet Golf Courses in Seaside, CA. What isn’t a given is that they will both have the same level of difficulty or playability. Indeed, they may be baby sat by the same crew, but designed by two different golf architects or design teams.
This is more of a modern-day fact than the story of these two gems. In fact, both courses were designed void of many design experts, but amazingly both hold their own when compared to courses with famous designer’s names attached. Director of Golf, Pat Jones, on day 1 eluded to the luster of both courses and their noticeable differences in design. Bayonet is a tighter course off the tee and perhaps a little more scenic. The back nine ventures upward into a section of the landscape where a grove of Coast Live Oak trees are very prevalent where they dominate and even distract to some degree. Pat had stated that it was his favorite of the two tracks. After an amazing weekend here both Myra and I agree. This in no way detracts from the sister course to Bayonet which is Black Horse.
We started the day with a cruise down 17-mile drive to Pebble Beach Golf Links where yes, we bought hats. A photo of the iconic view of the Monterey Bay was a must as well as a lifelong dream come true for me. It was enhanced by a personal escort down to the 18-hole green side by Laura Edwards, a staff member at Pebble and a lifelong resident. Her devotion to making everyone’s visit to Pebble Beach a special one was obvious as she shared some heartwarming and sincere stories about her life here. Meeting her was as rewarding as the photos we were able to snap.
We arrived about 90 minutes early for our 1:00 pm tee time at Bayonet. We were greeted again by Sam in the pro shop. Before I could say a word, Sam asked me, by my first name, if I needed range balls and if there was anything else I needed. Although Pat Jones was enjoying a day off the service and attention we received was not diminished in his absence.Arriving this early we went to The Bayonet Grill Restaurant for a hot cup of tea. Again, Eduardo efficiently attended to our needs as he had the day before. The place was buzzing and if we hadn’t eaten earlier there were about 10 different meals we watched come out of the kitchen and could have ordered.
In spite of the record amount of rain the Bayonet Course was soggy at worst and still very playable. That was the least of our challenges as the winds were howling. It was all carry on every shot from driver to a 30-yard chip. The sun was brilliant in the sky though and it was a far cry from what for the third consecutive night accompanied our sleep; pounding persistent rain.
Before setting off and after a brief chat with Don, who again was running a tight ship in the starters hut, we met Justin Russo. Justin is a key member of the local golfing community and his Justin Russo Golf Academy http://www.justinrussogolfacademy.com located at Black Horse Bayonet is one of the top teaching centers on the California coast. His intuitive style of teaching is a healthy diversion from the traditional fix the flaw mentality. He possesses a very approachable manner and this is one of the keys to the very loyal following he has with golfers from young kids to seasoned accomplished players.
With the sun beaming down and a dominant wind blowing off the ocean, we both tore one down the middle of the Par 5 1st hole. In spite of following a two-some who were best suited for a short 9-hole muni, we played the front in 2 hours. One of the beauties of watching a pair of guys who don’t even know proper power cart rules hit it all over the map is how it makes your own bad shots feel less penal. Myra and I call it “golf karma”.
Each hole on Bayonet is a cover shot for any golf magazine. As you rise up the path from the third green you whip pass Don in the starters hut and come to a spectacular downhill par 3, 4th hole. Guarded by a bunker left and a back left flag location, it didn’t need the addition of a 25 mph wind to make it a dicey shot. After my own attempt came up short, Myra hit an absolute beauty flag high and easily two putted for a sweet par. On the same day the world’s best were scraping it around Riviera at The Genesis Open in the same conditions we were playing, pars were a rare feat.
I followed up Myra’s 3 with a 3 of my own on the Par 4 5th hole. Dead into the fierce wind with the majestic blue water of the Pacific as a back drop, I hit a hybrid from under an overhanging tree limb to the back of the green. My best putt of the weekend followed as a 35-footer just rolled dead straight and right downhill into the hole. We made the turn and luckily passed the two slow pokes who were in front of us. We started the back like we did the first playing an uphill long par 5, 510-yard hole. An uphill hole with with no roll, it plays like 575 in the wind so I felt very good 2 putting it for par.
By the uphill Par 4 15th hole, Myra was beat from the wind; her 105-pound frame exhausted. So, I brought the ship in on my own as she watched from the cart. At the fantastic downhill Par 3 17th we pulled up to two guys who asked if we wanted to go through. They stood aside as I rode the wind and hit a 165-yard shot to 15 feet and two putted. From tee to green it took me about 90 seconds to play the hole. It was really getting nippy now and another twosome waved me through on the meandering uphill Par 5 18th. If I wouldn’t have rushed to play through and to get my lovely wife into the awaiting car, I may have had a 4-par finish. As it was I played identical nines of 41 for a very solid 82; 7 pars and a birdie felt like 12 pars and 2 birdies to be honest. As you can see by the photos this course is world class so it’s no wonder it’s been host to 2 PGA Club Professional National Championships in recent years.
When you look to the Monterey/Carmel area as a golfing destination, add at least 2 days of golf here at Black Horse Bayonet to your itinerary. Add multiple rounds combined with anywhere from a ½ day to 2-day session at The Justin Russo Golf Academy as part of your golfing getaway. It won’t be long before you’ll be recognized and on a first name basis too.