Review: The Links at Spanish Bay

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:

The Links at Spanish Bay 1st hole

Approach to the 1st hole:

The Links at Spanish Bay 1st

The short par-4 second hole:

The Links at Spanish Bay 2nd hole

Tee shot on the par-4 3rd hole:

The Links at Spanish Bay 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:

The Links at Spanish Bay 8th hole

Beth chilling in the cool breeze of the exposed 8th tee:

The Links at Spanish Bay view

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:

The Links at Spanish Bay 14th hole

View from the 17th tee:

The links at spanish bay 17th tee

The happy newly weds enjoying the views as the cool breeze picks up on the closing stretch:

The links at spanish bay

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:

The links at spanish bay 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.

Happy golfing!

Josh

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  11 comments for “Review: The Links at Spanish Bay

  1. August 6, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Sounds like you made the most of a trip of a lifetime. Great review, and the Monterrey peninsula looks like one of the best areas for golf. It’s been fun reading the reviews of your trip. Thank you.

    Mike

    • August 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Mike,

      Thank you! The Monterey Peninsula is fantastic for golf, and for a lot of other things. Highly recommend a trip. It’s been nice doing some of these reviews after the fact, brings back some awesome memories.

      Cheers
      Josh

  2. djohn02
    August 6, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Great post! I’ve played the Monterey Peninsula and it’s Wonderful. But the thing that sticks in my mind about Pebble Beach is when they clean your shoes at the end of the round. They use a little hand blower that cools and massages your feet while you’re still wearing your shoes..

    • August 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Thank you! The shoe shine and air compressor in the shoe after the round is indeed a nice touch, thanks for mentioning it! Lots of fond memories at Pebble.

      Cheers
      Josh

  3. August 6, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Reblogged this on the Silicon Valley Golfer and commented:
    Thanks GiM, I was recently in the area for some whale watching in Moss Landing. Have yet to play any of these but they’re a short 90 min drive from San Jose/Silicon Valley so I will keep these in mind. Re blogging so I can dial up the info easier when that day comes. Photos are fantastic n majestic per usual. Happy golf thoughts all around!

    • August 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Thank you SVG! Appreciate the re-blog, I’m stoked that you have found these useful. You’re very fortunate to be a short drive from these courses! Can’t wait to hear about it when you play them.

      Cheers!
      Josh

  4. John Lee
    March 30, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Josh, great info on all 3 courses. Just wondering…..am I safe to assume that one could “theoretically” play Spanish Bay in the morning, and then try to get a “replay” round at Pebble Beach for 50% off? I understand that the gamble would be that there’s no availability for Pebble, as replay rounds can only be booked the day of and subject to availability, but if it works out, one could technically play Spanish and Pebble for about the full price of Pebble. Your thoughts?

    • March 30, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Hey John – thanks for reaching out and glad you found the info helpful. Yes, from my understanding you can play Spanish in the morning, and if there is still space at Pebble, you can play it for half of the regular price. A friend of mine who was there more recently than I did the same thing except he played Spyglass in the morning and Pebble in the afternoon. He was a single which obviously increases the chances of getting on.

      If Pebble didn’t have availability for a replay round, you could always try Spyglass as a backup. Heck, worst case scenario you could do a second lap at Spanish if Pebble and Spy were full. Would still be a great day!

      Have fun!

      Josh

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