Monterey Peninsula Country Club – Shore Course
Pebble Beach, California, USA
6873 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 74.3/133
COURSE ARCHITECT: Mike Strantz (2004)
COURSE WEBSITE: http://mpccpb.org/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: May 28, 2013.
LOW SCORE: 82 (+10)
– Golf Magazine Next Best 50 Courses in the World 2020-21
– Golf Magazine Top 100 in the U.S. 2017: #77
– Golf Digest America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses 2019-20: #56
– Golfweek Best Modern Courses USA 2019: #34
“I hope to carefully shape this new course so she will bend and sweep with the natural terrain of rocks, trees, grasses and ocean. My dream is that she will appear as if she has been dancing among the cypress on this coastline forever, and now she is the new, wonderful discovery of just a few lucky people”
Mike Strantz, Course Architect, Monterey Peninsula Country Club – Shore Course
Monterey Peninsula Country Club was established in 1925, with the C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor designed Dunes Course opening that same year. The Shore Course, as originally designed by Robert Baldock and Jack Neville, opened for play in 1961. The Dunes course would be redesigned in 1998 by noted “Open Doctor” Rees Jones and MPCC members now wanted to refresh the Shore Course, which enjoyed limited views of the ocean in its current form.
For Strantz, who started in the business working for Tom Fazio before gaining notoriety as an architect on the rise for designing Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Royal New Kent, Tot Hill Farm and Tobacco Road, among others, this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
However, before starting work, he was delivered a huge blow – he had developed an aggressive and rare form of tongue cancer.
To his credit, Strantz never let this horrific news affect his desire to create a personal masterpiece. Despite the need to visit many specialists and go through draining chemotherapy sessions, Strantz spent countless hours onsite, as he always did, relocating to the Monterey Peninsula in order to give everything he had during both the design and construction stages of the project. Not only did Strantz implement a completely new routing but his team engaged in the West Coast’s largest removal of non-native vegetation by removing forty-five acres of non-indigenous ice plant. They also engaged in America’s first full-course sand capping, a tedious project that would ensure playable conditions throughout the year and limit maintenance issues substantially.
The completely redesigned Shore Course opened June of 2004 to incredibly rave reviews and Strantz was there to see his dream become a reality.
Sadly, despite numerous chemotherapy sessions and delicate surgical procedures, Mike Strantz would succumb to his cancer on June 10, 2005, only one year after the Shore Course’s unveiling.
While Monterey Peninsula Country Club is very private, the public gets to enjoy the brilliance of Mike Strantz’s design every year, as the Shore Course was added to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am rotation in 2010 alongside Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill.
The par five first hole features a dramatic downhill tee shot with the ocean beckoning in the distance. The par four 2nd works up hill, doglegs off to the right and features a wonderfully complex set of green undulations.
The par three third hole is stunning, framed beautifully by a few tall, bare trees and some wonderful bunkering. As you work toward the fourth green, the ocean starts making an appearance in the distance and you can start to hear the crash of the surf against the rocks near 17 Mile Drive.
The cool, short par four fifth is next and the par five sixth hole really sets the tone for what’s ahead. The hole weaves from left to right off the tee, then back to the left on the layup shot only to require an uphill approach to a significantly two-tiered green. Delightful golf hole.
I think the par three 7th is very underrated – at 226 yards from the tips, players are looking at a long iron or hybrid shot to a plateau green perched high above a considerable false front. The green falls off a bit at the back too, making this a true shotmaking test.
The 448 yard 8th hole is no bargain either and once again showcases what a great designer can do with relatively flat land. The hole bends to the right off the tee around a right fairway bunker but then sharply back to the left for the approach. In a way, it’s almost like a double-dogleg par four! That approach is played directly toward the ocean, the first time you essentially see the Pacific in all her glory!
The 224 yard ninth hole is amongst the toughest I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m wondering if this was intended to be a par four at some point, as it’s an all-or-nothing tee shot over native land and bunkers to a very complex green. There is a layup area well to the left for the faint of heart but you’ll need to dial up a high fade if you’re to have a chance of reaching this green in regulation. With 17 Mile Drive directly on your right, this tee shot will stiffen up the most seasoned of players. A brute if I’ve ever seen one!
An incredible stretch of golf continues on the uniquely designed par five 10th hole. The drive seems innocent enough, with plenty of width and the ocean in the distance but positioning is vital if you are to challenge the green in two big shots. If you hit left off the tee, you’ll be left with a shorter distance but a completely blind approach over some dunes while the safe tee shot to the right will open things considerably but almost guarantee a layup for all but the longest of hitters. Brilliant design and the 10th greensite is among the best I’ve seen in a long time. Simply awesome and I’m not saying that just because I two-putted for birdie here 😉
The greatness continues with the stunning postcard view off the elevated par three 11th tee. It’s sensory overload as you look at the landscape in front of you – the crashing Pacific to your right, incredible, white sanded dunes off to the far left and a glorious view of Cypress Point in the distance. What a canvas!
The stretch of holes from #6 through #11 is quite astonishing.
The par five 12th is a true three shotter and relatively plain after the great holes before it but I really enjoyed the 13th, especially the approach shot to a great greensite tucked in a far corner of the property.
I really enjoyed the par three 14th hole, with a smartly placed bunker in front and an intricately undulating green. You then get one more look at the ocean on the 15th before moving away from the water and back toward the clubhouse on the par five 16th hole.
The long 455 yard par four 17th is perhaps the toughest hole on the golf course, a relatively narrow tee shot followed by a long approach into a narrow, well-protected green with a little creek off to the right.
You have one final climb on the mid-length par four 18th, where a long iron or hybrid can be used for placement before hitting a mid-to-short iron approach up the hill to the last green.
There is an artistic quality to Mike Strantz’s work here that is incredibly unique. His desire to have the holes “dance among the cypress” is fully captured through impressive use of doglegs, weaving fairways and ingenious bunker placement. The ocean provides an incredible landscape but the topography is decidedly average – it’s this MOVEMENT created by Strantz that delivers thrills throughout the round and I have to imagine that MPCC members are absolutely delighted with his great work at their club.
The course features a very unique out and back routing, with the par three 9th tee being the furthest point from the clubhouse. I walked with a caddie (the caddie took a cart) and I played in just over two hours. It ranks among the finest walking courses I’ve played.
Conditioning was superb and for that I can only assume that the extensive drainage work and sand capping by Strantz has afforded the club the ability to provide incredible turf quality that promotes fun ground game approaches and truly firm and fast playing conditions.
The Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club is a fitting monument to the genius that was Mike Strantz. Like the leaning Cypress trees on his course, one hopes that he too is dancing in heaven.