Orange County and San Diego County have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ocean courses. The most famous of which is Torrey Pines but right there is Pelican Hill and Monarch Beach Golf Links. MBGL is part of the St. Regis resort and the price-tag reflects that relationship and the location of the course right next to the ocean. I was fortunate enough to play the course recently and of course you know I had to blog about!
MBGL is really a tale of two 9s. The front 9 has ocean views on almost every hole. The back 9 winds it way through the expensive houses of Dana Point with a very resort course feel. Both 9s are in amazing shape, green with rather confusingly-spongy fairways but the ball always sits up. The greens on both 9s are in fantastic shape, they roll fast and true and will hold shots like a pro green.
The front 9 is all about water. Ocean views, lakes, streams, the front 9 is H20 and I loved it! The first two holes are straightforward par 4's. Left or right off the fairway may find you in a bunker (or in the water) but this is just all prelude to the real superstar of MBGL, the par 4 3rd hole.
The hole is only 288 and so you are hitting 5 wood or less off the tee, all the while trying not to be distracted by the ocean. You are generally supposed to play a hole in 15 minutes but I think you would be forgiven playing this hole in 45 or so ;).
The fairway is narrow but there bailout areas in the right and up to the left. You should hopefully have about 80 or less into the hole for the second shot and the green is two tiered so knowing where the pin is placed is crucial.
Well, it would be crucial if you cared at all about making a score on the hole versus just checking out the dolphins in the ocean. Really, you can't say enough about this hole.
The rest of the front 9 is solid including a very weird but enjoyable par 5 that crosses a willow bedecked stream twice on its way to the hole.
One word about the bunkers.
The sand is in immaculate shape here but heavy. One bunker I was in felt like the beach, amazing depth of sand! You will be able to do get shots out and the sand is some of the best in SoCal no doubt!
Overall I enjoyed my day at MBGL. I felt very relaxed, helped no doubt by the sea air and the views. The staff were all top notch and really made for a great experience. The greens and sea views were fantastic, especially on the front side. I just wish the course would lower its rates a bit as the price means this track is only "once in a great while" for yours truly. Also, if I ruled the world, I would flip the 9s, start you off amongst the houses and wow you on the back so someone elect me president will ya?
For more info on Monarch Beach, check it out here: http://www.monarchbeachgolf.com/index.php