Introduction to Monterey

In this blog post, we’re going to explore the best private golf courses in Monterey.

Nestled along California’s Pacific coastline, the peninsula comprises cities like Carmel by the Sea, Monterey and Pacific Grove.

While the northern section is more urbanized, the southern part is dominated by lush golf courses and the wild rugged coastline.

Monterey Peninsula beckons golf enthusiasts with its renowned golf courses. Many are public, but there are a handful of exceptional private ones. And it’s these we’re going to dig into in this post.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Monterey, California?

The best private golf courses in Monterey, California

RankGolf Course
1Cypress Point Golf Club
2Monterey Peninsula Golf Club (Dunes)
3Monterey Peninsula Golf Club (Shore)
4Tehama Golf Club
5The Club of Pasadera
Table showing the best private golf courses near Monterey Peninsula, CA

1. Cypress Point Golf Club

Cypress Point Golf Club, Monterey, California

Right, let’s not muck around and instead just kick off this list with arguably the best golf course in the world, Cypress Point.

In the most westernly part of the peninsula towards the southern coastline, Cypress Point has entertained an exclusive selection of individuals since 1929. These people are either some of the very fortunate members, or happen even more fortuitously, to know a member. 

The acclaimed golf course architect Alister MacKenzie was hired to design this private course and the result is simply outstanding. It is particularly famous for a breathtaking collection of holes which hug the coastline.

The raw and rugged site ultimately lends itself nicely to building a golf course. 

Aside from the panoramic views, golfers are taken through dense cypress groves and a Monterey pine woodland. Interestingly, this is one of the few places in the U.S. where these types of pines still exist.

Even to this day, the routing continues to receive the highest of accolades. Depending on which golf course ranking you look at, Cypress Point is always in the ‘Top 5 best golf courses’ in the world. 

In fact, so highly praised was Cypress Point after opening, Alister MacKenzie was then commissioned to design a new course called Augusta. I suppose the rest is history as they say…

2. Monterey Pines Golf Club (Dunes & Shore)

Yet another outstanding golf club on the Monterey Peninsula, this is a club with two top class championship 18-hole golf courses, the Dunes and the Shore. 

If you were to choose one which gets the most plaudits, you’d probably select the Dunes Course. But both are quite exceptional and considered two of the finest golf courses on the peninsula.

Like Cypress Point, the plot of land is pretty special. Both courses are offered ample opportunities to skirt the western coastline with, of course, stunning panoramic views over the Pacific. 

There are dominating sand dunes, dense pine forests and jagged cliffs all in play. No wonder this stretch of coastline is home to so many iconic courses. Even an average layout would be considered great in this location. 

Fortunately though, neither course at Monterey Peninsula is average. 

One of the greatest architects of all time, Seth Raynor, was the man responsible for the original routing of the Dunes course. 

Over the ensuing years, it has been gradually updated by both Rees Jones and then subsequently in 2016 the Fazio Design firm.

What I personally love about the layout is the drama that unfolds. When you start, the first few holes have you playing through the glorious sand dunes, hidden away from the world. You have no idea what awaits as you reach the half-way point.

But then when you do, you emerge into a selection of holes which all play along the coastline, where beautiful views are juxtaposed by wicked coastal breezes.

The Bob Baldock designed Shore Course is much the same, and certainly since its Mike Strantz renovation, you would be forgiven for ranking it higher. In fact, there are many who would now position if above the Dunes Course.

But what we can all agree on though, is that both are superb courses.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Santa Cruz, California?

3. Tehama Golf Club

Tehama Golf Club, Monterey, California, Permission Given, Photo courtesy Scott Campbell
Photo courtesy Tehama Golf Club, Photo credit Scott Campbell

Nestled between Carmel Valley and the Monterey Peninsula, is the exclusive Tehama Golf Club. Many people may recognise the name, and this is because Tehama is the golf club built by the legend that is Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood always had a soft-spot for Carmel, having visited the area when younger. So when choosing where to build a golf course, the location was never really in doubt. 

This outstanding golf club is situated on an even more outstanding plot. So much so, playing here is referred to as ‘golf high above the bay’. They couldn’t be more accurate.

This vast plot is perched up high on the hills, some 200 feet above sea level, and offers magnificent panoramas across the surrounding coastline. Whilst in the other direction are the impressive Santa Lucia mountains. 

To design his world-class course, Eastwood called upon the Texas native, Jay Morrish. And the objective was simple. Seamlessly craft a routing across the stunning natural landscape.

With this in mind, Morrish’s creation weaves across the rolling terrain making full use of the constant elevation drops and rises. Maybe due to the challenging terrain, Morrish kept the distance relatively palettable, with from the back tees the course reaching a mild 6,567 yards.

With the membership costing around $500,000, and being invite only, it is with deep regret I suggest leaving this one off your ‘to play’ list. 

See also: What are the best private golf courses in San Francisco, California?

4. The Club at Pasadera

The Club at Pasadera, Monterey, California

Just a 15- minute drive from the heart of the peninsula, is the secluded The Club at Pasadera. 

A formidable private club, it occupies a sensational plot hidden away within the sun-splashed hills of Monterey and overlooked by the Santa Lucia Mountains. 

The club is part of a gated private golfing community which features a number of first-class amenities. But the centerpiece of this 575 acre development is the outstanding Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.

In fact, this is the only Jack Nicklaus signature course on the Monterey Peninsula and it is an absolute beauty.

Aside from towering over the club, the surrounding hills also play a prominent part in the character of the course. Fairways climb and drop as they make their way across the rolling terrain. Only occasionally are they overlooked by glamorous luxury homes.

The signature hole is the 14th. From the tee you look over an imposing ravine that separates you and the green, located just over 200 yards away. 

As for the 15th hole, it was at one point the longest par 4 in North America at 562 yards! This is not for the faint-hearted.

This is a wonderful course which you’ll get to enjoy should you befriend a member.

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