The Links at Spanish Bay is located in Pebble Beach, California, and is part of the trifecta of Pebble Beach Resorts’ golf courses along the Monterey Peninsula coast, which also includes Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach Golf Links. I’ve had the chance to play Spanish Bay twice now, the most recent time was during our 2015 winter road trip, two days after our wedding.
Spanish Bay is located a 5-10 minute drive down the road from Pebble Beach Golf Links along scenic 17-mile Drive. If booking a stay with Pebble Beach Resorts, staying at The Inn at Spanish Bay provides a slightly more affordable option than staying at the Pebble Beach Lodge. There are also several great restaurants, a lobby lounge with a cozy fireplace, a pool, gym, and tennis courts on site. If you’re worried about missing out on the action at Pebble Beach, there are resort shuttles to take you to and from.
As we pulled into Spanish Bay for our latest round there, we were greeted by a very friendly chap at the bag drop who even congratulated us on our nuptials without prompting him. Pebble Beach Resorts is good like that, they always know what’s going on and how to make their guests feel special.
The golf course, designed by Tom Watson, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Sandy Tatum, was intended to be a Scottish inspired links-style golf course. Much of the golf course is amongst the gorgeous coastal sand dunes, making for a beautiful setting. If you found yourself plunked on the first tee of Spanish Bay after being kidnapped and blindfolded, you might believe that you were in Scotland.
The opening par-5 tee shot:
Approach to the 1st hole:
The short par-4 second hole:
Tee shot on the par-4 3rd hole:
The rugged coast, large complex greens, runoff areas, and ability to run the ball up on many holes definitely represents a Scottish feel. As the round progresses, you lose a bit of the Scottish feel as you approach the turn and head up into the trees to start the back nine. I would consider the course links-style target golf. The course winds through an environmentally sensitive area, and with good intention to preserve the natural landscape, golfers are prohibited from entering these areas which play as lateral hazards. The result is lateral hazards lining many of the fairways and making the course very unforgiving off the tee.
The par-3 8th hole:
Beth chilling in the cool breeze of the exposed 8th tee:
After the 8th hole, the course turns inland with some more traditional feeling holes until thrusting you back towards the ocean on the 14th hole where you finish your round amongst the beautiful coastal dunes. After making a few environmentally sensitive double bogeys early in my round and starting off being 8-over through 7 holes, I reeled the round back in with three birdies over the next six holes, putting a jump in my step for the scenic finish.
Approach to the par-5 14th hole:
View from the 17th tee:
The happy newly weds enjoying the views as the cool breeze picks up on the closing stretch:
When you’re done your round, a beautiful patio awaits at Sticks restaurant for post-round drinks and snacks, equipped with fires for those cool coastal days. Inside the restaurant is also a great option if the weather doesn’t cooperate, where I highly recommend saddling up to the bar which offers the best ocean views from inside. The food is fantastic, and Beth and I have actually gone out of our way to return there for dinner on days we weren’t golfing there. As an added bonus, each evening at sunset a bagpiper plays on the 1st tee to close out the day in Scottish tradition.
The view from the patio:
Playing Spanish Bay doesn’t exactly come cheap, but it is the cheapest option of the Pebble Beach “Big Three” and is priced appropriately, in a relative sense, at $270 (or $155 as a Duke’s Club Member – click here for info).
It ranks third for me out of the three courses. It’s a course I’m dying to love, but can’t quite get myself to say the words. The course teases me with some holes that are truly inspiring, but it couldn’t quite sustain that feeling the whole way. When I first played the course in 2013, it was in immaculate shape. The latest time in 2015, the fairways weren’t quite as good, but with California in the midst of a drought, it is certainly understandable.
If you’re visiting Pebble Beach, it’s definitely a must to experience the golf course yourself and form your own opinion. If nothing else, you’ll be treated to some tremendous views, great service, and delicious food. You’ll get a taste of Scottish golf and traditions, with some holes in between that you’ll have to decide for yourself.
The Links at Spanish Bay is a nice addition to the Pebble Beach Resorts’ family, where it’s hard not to be overshadowed by world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill. If I’ve learned anything from multiple visits to Pebble Beach, it’s that you really can’t go wrong.