Review: Bayonet Black Horse (Black Horse Course)

Great golf on the Monterey Peninsula extends far beyond the ocean cliffs of Pebble Beach Golf Links. A great example of that is at Bayonet & Black Horse — a 36 hole facility located in Seaside, California. I have previously raved about the Bayonet Course, which I don’t hesitate labelling a “must-play” while on a golf trip to the Peninsula. As a result, Bayonet’s counterpart — Black Horse — has a lot to live up to.

Beth and I have both been fortunate enough to play both courses on multiple occasions, and under varying conditions. Black Horse weighs in a little lighter on the scorecard than Bayonet. The par 72 layout comes in at 7024 yards from the tips, and a course rating/slope of 73.7/136, which still packs a heavy punch.

The opening tee shot on the par-5 1st hole of Black Horse:

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Approach shot into the 1st green:

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The first thing that you’ll notice about Black Horse is how visually stunning it is. Between the uniquely sculpted bunkers, rolling fairways, Monterey Cypress trees, and views of Monterey Bay, Black Horse does not shy away from the camera.

Tee shot on the gentle dogleg left, par-4 4th hole:

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The next thing you might notice as you play Black Horse, is how darn challenging it can be. The tee shots appear fairly open and look inviting, but those bunkers are where they are for a reason, and not always easy to avoid. However, it’s not a course where too many balls are going to be lost due to the relatively open nature of it.

The greens are huge, often raised, and have severe undulations. If the conditions are firm and fast, they are nothing short of treacherous. If you’re not familiar with the tiers and undulations, it can be very difficult to get the ball close to the hole. If you’re lucky enough to play them in softer conditions, they are still challenging, but much more fair.

Tee shot on the driveable par-4 6th hole:

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The dogleg right par-4 7th hole:

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Another thing you might notice as you play the course, which unfortunately takes away from how the course plays in spots, is the drainage system. Due to the topography of the course, they had no choice but to install an underground collection system to manage water. The result is many metal catch basins in the fairways and near the greens, where the surrounding topography is graded such that water drains to them. This is great for water management, but it also collects a lot of golf balls. We have observed many times that tee shots of varying length, line, and quality all funnel to a similar place. This results in a high concentrations of divots in these areas, and some frustrating lies in the fairway.

The par-4 14th hole, which features a slightly downhill tee shot, followed by a significantly uphill approach into the green:

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The par-3 15th hole:

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Unlike Bayonet, Black Horse does not return back to the clubhouse after 9 holes, so instead they have a food and beverage cart. However, both times we have played, we have been a bit disappointed with the frequency in which we saw the cart, and the food options it provided. Our last visit, we were very hungry by the 12th hole and finally came upon the food and beverage cart, only to find the sandwiches had sold out and the food options were limited to chips and chocolate bars. Given my opinion regarding food on a golf course (click here to read about it), I would say there is room for improvement in this department. Even if it is just a friendly reminder when you’re checking in before the round, that it might be a good idea to grab some food since you won’t return to the clubhouse during the round.

Black Horse is a course with so much potential. Visually, it is captivating and inviting, yet each time I’ve played it, it fell just short of what I expect it should be. It’s a course I want so desperately to love. Even now, in this very moment, I want to give it another go because I’m convinced that the next time it will be everything I think it could be.

As Bayonet and Black Horse gain popularity, their tee sheet has become increasingly busier, and we have witnessed pace of play become an issue at times. Hopefully they get some marshals out there and start to adapt to the ever-increasing demands on these golf courses.

It’s important to remember that reviewing golf courses is often subjective. I’ve had people tell me they like Black Horse better than Bayonet, even though I don’t think they’re in the same league. As a duo, they make a strong team and both offer up a stern, scenic challenge.

Black Horse isn’t a bad golf course. In ways, I think it falls victim to the high standard in which Bayonet set with me. My best advice is to try them both and find out for yourself. For as little as $50 including a cart if you can score an online deal (typically it is $85-$95), it’s tough to go wrong.

Happy golfing!

Josh

  14 comments for “Review: Bayonet Black Horse (Black Horse Course)

  1. zgolfer13
    November 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Played this course a year ago and boy is it a bear!! Lost a ball in a tree and even struggled to hold a pitching wedge on the firm and fast greens. Didn’t help that it was during a tournament and they had rolled and double cut the greens!

    Anyways, great track! A must play while in the Monterey area!

    • November 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

      A bear is a great way to describe it! When those greens get firm and fast, the rating/slope on the scorecard doesn’t do the difficulty justice. Glad you survived your tournament to tell the tale!

      Cheers
      Josh

  2. November 26, 2015 at 4:13 am

    That looks like one tough track. I can appreciate the higher slope rating. While Pebble gets a lot of love (and understandably so) it’s nice to know there’s some other great golfing options. Well written and very informative. Your pictures are great, the view off the tee blocks are stunning.

    Thanks, Mike

    • November 26, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Mike,

      It is indeed a stern challenge. When they get those greens hard and fast the rating/slope doesn’t do it justice. Even if you’re not interested in forking out $500 to play Pebble, a golf trip to the Peninsula is still a riot. Plus, you can still have lunch overlooking the 18th hole at Pebble and walk around much of the course (it’s a public space).

      Cheers
      Josh

  3. November 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Aloha Josh,

    Great review and good job with the pictures. I don’t think I would have to worry about the beverage cart, that course would likely eat my lunch.

    A Hui Hou,
    Wayne

    • November 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Aloha Wayne,

      Thank you for the kind words! Come to think of it, maybe that is why I got so hungry – the course ate my lunch too!

      Cheers
      Josh

  4. December 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Great pictures and write up. Looks like it would be a challenging course.

    • December 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks a lot, Jimmy. Sure is a stern challenge!

      Cheers
      Josh

  5. December 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been to Cali so many times and never played this course. Thanks to this review I’ll play the course when I am there next year.

    • December 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      I definitely recommend checking it out! If you only had time for one, I’d personally recommend the Bayonet Course, but if you can, try both. And show up with your “A” game 😉

      Cheers
      Josh

      • December 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        Yes – A game is a requirement. I remember playing Pacific Grove and we were told to try out Bayonet and Black Horse. We didn’t get to it but we were told that it was a difficult.

  6. Blair
    January 12, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Nice review – I have played both Bayonet and Black Horse a number of times and always play 36 (once on each course) in a day for the best value as online (GolfNow) and/or replay rates make it a great value (often under $120 all in w/cart for 36).

    These courses will always rank in my personal Top 10 as they provide a great challenge to a low handicap due to the “always in play” fairway bunkers, large cypress trees and large undulating green complexes than can be very quick at certain times of the year.

    While I’m in the minority in that overall I prefer the Black Horse course over Bayonet – mostly because the last few times I played BH the greens were really firm and not real receptive which forced me to think my way around more than on Bayonet when you miss a green – however my favorite stretch of holes on the property is definitely #10-13 on Bayonet; a stretch of beautiful memorable holes where birdies are available but bogies can easily be made.

    I have not read all your reviews yet so not sure if you been there but my other favorite in the area (albeit more expensive) is Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz – while the recent Cali drought didn’t do it any favors, the course is still as close to an Augusta-like feel I’ve played. There are at least 5 or 6 holes where you are hitting an approach into a green that is bunkered and undulated like Augusta.

    • January 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Hi Blair,

      Couldn’t agree with you more about the value at Bayonet/Blackhorse! I have yet to play all 36 in a single day, but what a fantastic day of golf that would be. My experiences at Blackhorse have fallen short of Bayonet, but I maintain that it has potential to be great if the conditions are right.

      I have actually played Pasatiempo but haven’t posted a review on it yet. I played it before I started my blog, so I didn’t go out of my way to get too many good photos. I agree 100% though, one of the best in the area!

      Thanks a lot for your input, it’s much appreciated!

      Cheers
      Josh

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