Santa Cruz, CA
1929, Alister Mackenzie
Blue 6445, 72.9, 138, 70
White 6128, 71.4, 134, 70
#14 Top 100 You Can Play, Golf Digest 2000
3/11 Face Off:
Pasatiempo is the best example of Alister Mackenzie's artistry available to the general public. Holes at this Santa Cruz, Calif., course look daunting -- greens tumble down hillsides in stair steps, bunkers are splattered across the landscape -- but it's all very playable. Not long ago, Pasatiempo was a neglected work of art. Tom Doak's company spent 10 years recovering green contours, re-establishing bunkers and removing trees. Today it's 29th among America's 100 Greatest Public Courses. Its five par 3s are most delightful, ending with the 169-yard, over-a-canyon 18th. Some suspect the nines have been reversed, but Mackenzie's original plan always embraced a closing climax: 10, 11, 15 and 16 all play over barrancas. The rap against Pasatiempo has been its cramped front nine, squeezed by housing. Some feel rows of trees between holes should go. They were planted for safety, after a golfer beaned by a ball died in 1947. I've played England's Blackpool Park, a tight Mackenzie course open but sparsely framed by trees. It's a shooting gallery. Pasatiempo's trees should stay, even if they rob strategy on a few holes. At least we'll live to tell our grandkids we've played one of Mackenzie's most exciting designs.
There's nothing better than getting to a course's third tee (in this case, a 235-yard uphill par 3) and it's already so good you start thinking, How and when can I come back to this course? To play Pasatiempo should be on every avid golfer's to-do list, not only for the immersion in its history (and deep bunkers), but also for the walkability and the variety of shots and putts that present themselves throughout the round. Don't miss the plaque on the sixth hole's cartpath; it's adjacent to the home where Alister Mackenzie lived until his death in 1934. He once cited "good golfers" calling its back nine "the finest in existence." Today, thanks to an updated irrigation system, it's better equipped to handle the wet Northern California winters. At $220 ($250 with cart), Pasatiempo is at the tipping point of value, but its rack rate is less than half the price of Pebble and $130 less than Spyglass -- both of which are within an hour's drive. Pasatiempo also offers regular price breaks through golfnow.com. And because starters at the course gather e-mail addresses from players, returning golfers receive discounts throughout the year that vary but hover at about $150. That's a pretty sweet deal.
Golf Digest 9/08 Review (4-1/2 stars): For $200 greens fees and a $100 replay rate, playing 36 at the Alistair Mackenzie course (1929) feels like a steal compared to it's more expensive Monterey neighbors. #30 on GD's list of 100 Greatest Public Courses. Tom Doak recently completed a 10-year restoration (working one hole at a time so the course could stay in operation) based on early photos of the course, putting bunkers back where Mackenzie had them, clearing trees that had taken over the course, and reshaping some greens.
Pasatiempo was to Mackenzie what Pinehurst #2 was to Donald Ross. Mackenzie spent the last few years of his life here, died here, and asked to have his ashes spread here. He formed an enduring bond with his favorite child, and continued to tinker with the routing until his death. As a result, Pasatiempo has some of the most severe greens he ever built. Couple that with 300 feet in elevation change, and there are no breaks for your brain or your game.
Golfcourse.com Review: This difficult course is purely natural, and takes wonderful advantage of steep barranca, which runs all through the back nine. The design also consists of many trees, sand bunkers, and rolling hills that will affect your shots. However, hitting over the barranca is the main challenge. Play the par 3's well at this Santa Cruz landmark and you can have success. Alister Mackenzie lived just off hole #6, and this was one of his last course designs before dying in 1934 at the age of 63.
Best Bar Nearby: The on-site Tap Room made Golf Digest's 2008 50 Best 19th Holes list. "The Tap Room in the historic Hollins House (built in 1929 by championship golfer Marion Hollins, who also consulted on Mackenzie's design of Augusta National) was frequented by Clark Gable, Bobby Jones and Bing Crosby; sit at the oak bar or near a bay window with a view of Monterey Bay."
Queen Of The Hill
By Ron Kaspriske January 2009
Your calves are burning, your feet are sore, and your scorecard has more 6s than 4s. You're in need of a stiff drink, and after surviving the hilly Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif., you've got two choices. In the clubhouse, there's a rather pedestrian bar, but uphill another 100 yards is a newly remodeled, smartly decorated lounge that dates to the 1930s. It's complete with historic photographs of famous guests and, from its patio, an incredible view of the golf course, Monterey Bay and, on a clear day, the Monterey Peninsula. Still undecided? Take Rob Chestnut's advice and make one last climb.
"When it's open [4-9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday], you'd be crazy not to go up there," says Chestnut, who lives nearby and stops in the bar a few times a month. "When my friends come to town, they look forward to drinks at The Tap Room as much as playing the course."
The Tap Room, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best 19th holes, is inside the Hollins House, a building that used to be the Pasatiempo clubhouse and was owned by accom-plished amateur Marion Hollins. She founded Pasatiempo in 1929 and, during the next decade, used the house to host a number of parties for the rich and famous. The Tap Room now serves as a link to the course's storied past, and locals often use it as a community hub. Jerry Mauer, who lives in a house above the 17th green, stops in from time to time for a quick drink and to pick up dinner for his 175-pound mastiff, Bentley.
Just outside the door, there's an inviting red-brick patio that overlooks the course. The stunning panorama makes this a great spot to enjoy a cigar and a locally made David Bruce Pinot Noir. And you can't go wrong ordering a cold beer with the blackened pepper fries and chili ketchup.
THE HOUSE COCKTAIL The Pasatiempo Manhattan was inspired by Marion Hollins’ roots in the New York area. It’s two ounces Bulleit bourbon and one ounce Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth shaken, chilled and poured into a martini glass. The “twist” is a California orange instead of a cherry.
NAME-DROPPING Pasatiempo is 340 miles northwest of Hollywood, but the course played a bit part in American cinema's Golden Age. When you visit, notice the photos on the walls of celebrities like Bing Crosby and Clark Gable. Silent-film star Mary Pickford and platinum blonde Jean Harlow also patronized the Hollins House. Other names in Marion Hollins' guest book include Spencer Tracy, Will Rogers, Claudette Colbert and Joan Fontaine.
Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women's Amateur champ, invested in California oil drilling and made millions. The oil money funded her lavish parties, and she in-vited many of Hollywood's biggest stars.
There's something cool about playing a round of golf and then having a drink in the same room where Gable, Crosby and Tracy once sat. It makes you want to order an old-fashioned.
For a cool tiki bar, Critiki.com recommends Hula's Island Grill & Tiki Room (221 Cathcart St, Santa Cruz, 831-426-4852, www.hulastiki.com ). Opened in 2006, the space is warm, lined with lauhala matting and filled with carvings, floats and tapa lamps. Or, T&L Golf recommends The Crow's Nest (2218 E. Cliff Dr), Santa Cruz. Order a frosty Crow's Nest Lager.
Check out the
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
, take a spin on the Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster.