The front nine, designed by two-time United States Amateur Champion H. Chandler Egan, offers the golfer a glimpse of architecture reminiscent of some of the world's most memorable courses. The out and back, figure-eight design was originally conceived with opening and closing par fives; however, when a modern clubhouse was built in 1960, the routing was changed. This new routing features one of the most unique opening stanzas in all of golf. Two par threes followed by two par fours and two par fives greet the golfer as he makes his way out to the farthest point on the course and turns for home. Although the Monterey Bay is visible on several of the holes, the narrower fairways and small greens demand the player's attention before the visual feast that awaits him on the second nine.
#1 - Little Tombstone - Par 3 - 146 yards
Measuring just under 150 yards, the player is faced with a fairly straight-forward hole to open the round. Aptly named for the El Carmelo Cemetery bordering this hole on the right; this par three features a bunker guarding the back left and mounding guarding the right side of a smallish green. The green slopes back to front, so the smart play is to keep the ball left and below the hole.
#2- Big Tombstone - Par 3 - 193 yards
Big Tombstone also features the same cemetery along its right side, but that's where the similarities to its little brother end. Uphill and long, this par three gives the player everything he can handle. Again featuring mounding short and right and a cavernous bunker hugging the left side of the green, this hole demands a well- struck shot to safely reach the putting surface. Players must leave the ball below the hole on this sloping green if they are to have a realistic chance at par.
#3 - Egan's Alley - Par 4 - 305 yards
This manageable hole doglegs left around a grove of Monterey Pines, but be careful to lay up short of the lone Oak tree to have an unobstructed short iron into the green. This green's main defense is its diagonal slope, but be wary of bunkering left and long.
#4 - Blind Birdie - Par 4 - 259 yards
This hole looks benign to the first-time player, but many a golfer has walked away from this very short par four with bogey or worse. With out of bounds down the right and trees lining the left, a long iron or hybrid will leave the player a wedge into this two-tiered green. Bunkers left and long are not of much concern, but stopping an approach close to the pin is tough on this skinny green.
#5 - The Finisher - Par 5 - 510 yards
Pacific Grove Golf Links’ first par five offers the skilled player a good chance at birdie, but a well-placed drive is key on this slight dogleg left. The second shot must be positioned correctly to offer an easy short iron into this small oval green. With no bunkering, the third shot should be easy, save for the grassy mounding surrounding the entire back portion of the green. This creates havoc on many a wayward shot and on properly reading the subtle breaks of this seemingly simple putting surface.
#6 - Long Tom - Par 5 - 527 yards
This brute of a par five plays uphill and usually into the prevailing wind. Originally the opening hole of the course, this par five must have been a real challenge in 1932! Keeping the drive up the left side of the fairway opens up the second shot as the hole moves slightly left to right, and then downhill to a well-guarded green. Accurate placement of the second shot allows a more manageable third to this severely sloping green. Keeping the ball below the hole is a must for anyone looking to card par or better.
#7 - Plateau - Par 4 - 304 yards
Demanding a well-placed tee shot, this short par four tests the player's accuracy from start to finish. Stray too far right and you have to cross a bunker and trees to reach the small green. Stray too far left and you have to navigate the Monterey Pines closely bordering the fairway and cross a bunker guarding the left. Still, birdie is a possibility with a good approach.
#8 - Dogleg - Par 4 - 419 yards
Eight is a sweeping dogleg right that places a premium on a long left-to-right ball flight. What follows is an adventurous second into a finger of a green running diagonally. The lone greenside bunker is not an issue, but the proximity to the out of bounds along the right is. Aim for the center of the green and par is within your reach.
#9 - Point Pinos - Par 3 - 213 yards
Played directly into the prevailing wind, this long par three measures over 200 yards and demands a solid drive to reach the putting surface. Made easier by a family of deer who routinely lounge in the stand of trees on the left side of the fairway, a par on this hole can jumpstart your scoring heading out the back nine. Don't let the deer lull you to sleep, however, as the subtle breaks on this green can lead to bogey or worse.
Built in the manner of a traditional links course, the second nine at Pacific Grove Golf Links transports you "across the pond" without ever leaving home. Designed in 1960 by Jack Neville of Pebble Beach and Bel Air Country Club fame, the Neville Nine is a testament to the rugged and natural beauty found on the Monterey Peninsula. Winding out from beneath the watchful eye of the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the holes tumble into the windswept dunes before heading directly toward the ocean and then turning home. With views of the ocean and Point Pinos Lighthouse from every hole, you can smell the salt in the air and feel the ocean spray on your face, just as the founders of the game experienced centuries ago.
#10 - The Innkeeper - Par 3 - 104 yards
At just over 100 yards, this seemingly easy hole looks like a sure birdie. Many have found, however, that things are not always what they seem. With the ocean breeze playing havoc with errant shots and a green that can confuse and confound, this little test can be so much more.
#11 - Seaward - Par 4 - 273 yards
From the back tee, this wonderful hole runs downhill toward the ocean and gives the player a chance to take in the true beauty of links golf. A wide-open fairway greets the player with little-to-no danger. The second shot to a green cut into the dunes demands more precision as the player must contend with the wind, a deep bunker to the left, and the first of several false-front greens. Keep the ball low on your approach and you have a good chance at birdie.
#12 - Rocky Shores - Par 5 - 497 yards
With a dramatic view of the Pacific Ocean running down the entire left-hand side of the fairway, this par five is a true postcard hole. A left to right crosswind, out of bounds on the right, and an undulating fairway may have you writing home about the one that got away. Keep your ball in play and aim for the center of the green to have a chance for par or better.
#13 - Whaler's Watch - Par 4 - 307 yards
From an elevated tee, this short par four tempts the player to play an aggressive drive for a shot at birdie. Proceed with caution though, as you are playing into a cross wind. With dunes along the left and mounding guarding the green, the more strategic option is a well placed shot down the right allowing for open access to this undulating green.
#14 - Seaview - Par 4 - 348 yards
Also playing from an elevated tee, Seaview beckons the big hitter. Playing downwind also increases the temptation, but stray too far off course and the dunes both right and left will swallow any wayward shots. The green is guarded by a semi- blind second shot with lateral hazards surrounding much of the green. Be sure to play to the right to funnel shots onto the putting surface. The green, while not tiered, offers two distinct sections that call for very different approaches to be played if the player is looking for a short putt.
#15 - Beacon View - Par 4 - 383 yards
A dramatic view of Point Pinos Lighthouse awaits the player on the 15th tee. Also awaiting the player is an uphill par four framed by dunes and native vegetation. While this is one of the longest par fours on the course, it is by far one of the most open, with several angles by which to attack this smallish green. Most players will be hitting a mid iron into the green, but the architecture allows the player to take an aerial or ground route.
#16 - Lighthouse - Par 4 - 351 yards
With the Point Pinos Lighthouse standing watch on the right, the golfer tees off from an elevated tee with the Pacific Ocean laid out before him. Players must position their drive on the right side, taking into account out of bonds on the right and the large crest running across the fairway. From there the approach can be tricky with bunkers guarding the left and right sides of this kidney-shaped green. There is room to run the ball up to the green and that may be the safest route as there is a drop off just a few feet over the back.
#17 - Crespi Pond - Par 3 - 138 yards
This par three features the Monterey Bay to the left and the freshwater Crespi Pond in front. Named after Fr. Juan Crespi, a Catholic Priest who accompanied explorer Gaspar Portola on his expedition to Point Pinos, the hazard does not pose a significant threat as there is plenty of room short of the green for a dry landing. The hole's main defenses, however, are the back-to-front sloping nature of the green and the bunker on the left. With water on two sides it makes reading this green a challenge, but keep your ball below the hole and you have a great chance to make the putt.
#18 - Last Chance - Par 4 - 294 yards
To the first-time player, Last Chance offers seemingly easy hole to finish the round. Be careful though, because a well placed drive is essential to setting up a manageable second shot. A long fairway bunker on the left hand side needs to be avoided, as does out of bounds on the right. Do that and it is a mere short iron into the green. A well-struck shot is a must, as the false front of this elevated green can pose a real challenge. Play to the center, steer clear of the bunker on the right and you may just finish with that birdie!