Spyglass Hill Golf Club

CALIFORNIA, USA

Story & Images by Sam Gole, Discover Golf Magazine

Arr, me mateys, prepare for an adventure when you play a round at Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Featuring holes named ‘Long John Silver’, ‘Jim Hawkins’ and ‘Skeleton Island’, you’ll uncover many riches at this classic layout. The superbly designed Robert Trent Jones Sr. course assumes its theme after Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island (released in 1883). According to local legend, the famous author collected ideas for his book while wandering the Spyglass area.

Opened for play in 1966, Spyglass Hill is located at Pebble Beach, California and has been ranked among the top golf courses in the world for more than 40 years. Understandably adored by many, the long and demanding par-72, 6960-yard (6364-metre) track is divided by two distinct styles.

Rolling sand dunes, ocean views and native wastelands cover the first five holes as the layout nudges the open shoreline. Then the course meanders through the cherished Del Monte forest where towering pines, raised greens and strategically placed ponds feature as you make your way home. It’s a contrast of charms. Both are equally alluring and challenging.

Spyglass Hill’s opening five holes are true gems. Aptly named, ‘Treasure Island’, your journey here begins at the long par-5, 1st hole. Blast your opening tee-shot through the narrow shoot of tall pines into the distant ocean backdrop. On a clear day, you can see across the water to Santa Cruz—it’s a vision that’s hard to walk away from.

The 3rd hole is also a picture of beauty. From the elevated tee with expansive ocean views, it’s just 172 yards to the middle of the green. But miss the green and the hole named ‘The Black Spot’ will leave you with plenty of bother.

The par-4, 370-yard, 4th hole is Jones Sr.’s favourite hole. It features a long slender green shaped like a rasher of bacon. The best way to stay on the short cut surface is to approach the green from the right side of the fairway.

And after you hole out at the elevated green at the par-3, 197-yard, 5th hole, be sure to take one last look from close vantage at the dramatic Monterey coastline. It’s a view with plenty of wow-factor.

From there, Spyglass Hill morphs into an especially enchanting forest setting.

Wonderfully crafted by Jones Sr., this part of the layout boasts holes framed by majestic pines. Spanish moss drips gracefully from tree limbs as surging fairways mimic the ocean swell. During the mornings and afternoons, through the soaring trees, streams of filtering sunlight dance on the rippling fairways. Deer and squirrels romp nonchalantly throughout the course. And from the distance, calls from barking seals lazing at Bird Rock in the ocean’s shallows complete a natural ambience that overwhelms and delights.

The 10th hole is a ripping par-4. And after battling the previous two tough, lengthy par 4 holes, this downhill dogleg left hole is a welcomed sight. A strong drive drawing around the corner will run down the ridge, shortening the approach to a green well guarded by an attractive set of bunkers.

After the 11th hole, water comes into play on three of the following four holes. They include par 3s, holes 12 and 15, plus the double doglegged long par-5, 14th hole. In each instance, Spyglass Hill demands accurate iron-play. Each pond is precariously placed greenside, posing a hazard to stray approach shots.

And as you would expect at a course designed by Jones Sr., Spyglass Hill finishes in style too. The 476-yard, par-4, dogleg right 16th hole, is brutally long, but allows you to shorten the approach shot by cutting the corner. Even if the gamble doesn’t pay off, odds are you’ll appreciate the marvelous view of the green from the fairway. Nestled into a backdrop of soaring pines, the slick green is flanked by superbly shaped bunkering.

Playing a round at Spyglass Hill is a trek through a wonderland. It’s a place seemingly held in time. It’s a golf course of storybook proportions—each hole another interesting chapter revealing it’s own fascinating and uncanny character.

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