BAYONET AND BLACK HORSE GOLF COURSES
Back when the U.S. Army ran them, these two top-shelf courses on the former Fort Ord military base were as tight and tough as drill sergeants. Stately oak and cypress trees decamped along the fairways demanded unwavering precision, and winds off the nearby water offered no forgiveness to AWOL shots. Hard-core golfers — most notably Jack Nicklaus, who called Bayonet one of the most difficult courses he’d ever played — loved the Fort Ord layouts. In other words, they were great but not quite right for the average Joe. Today, after a $13 million renovation, Bayonet and Black Horse have retained many of their lean, mean features, but they’re also more enjoyable for everyone. Trees have been relocated, opening up dramatic ocean vistas, and thick underbrush has been cut down, making it easier to find wayward shots. Respected architect Gene Bates rerouted both courses so that the holes now unfold in a more fluid progression. And upgraded with bent grass, greens and fairways are now more true than ever. The changes, of course, are also meant to please the purists. As part of the renovations, minefields of blinding white bunkers were added, and quirky holes were reshaped in a classic spirit, giving them a beautifully contoured look. Critics have raved about the changes, with Golf Magazine and Golf Digest both rating the renovations among the top course redesigns of the past year. What’s more, the PGA Tour has selected Bayonet and Black Horse as venues for the Tour’s stage two qualifying school this November. That’s a pretty high honor for two former military courses that have made a smooth transition to civilian life.
Green fees: $75 to $160, www.bayonetblackhorse.com
SPYGLASS HILL GOLF COURSE
Opened in 1966 and designed by acclaimed architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., this sister course to Pebble Beach has long been ranked among the finest in the world. Just one problem: In wet Monterey winters, the course often became soupy. But not anymore. A dramatically upgraded drainage system allows an improved Spyglass Hill to stand up to prolonged downpours. Several new trees have also been planted, and the invasive ice plant has been removed along the second, third and fourth holes, restoring the land to its natural dunescape. The result of all these changes? The course now looks and plays as Jones originally intended, no matter how much precipitation falls.
Green fees: $350, www.pebblebeach.com/golf/spyglass-hill-golf-course
CARMEL VALLEY RANCH GOLF COURSE
In golf, beauty isn’t just skin deep. Consider what’s transpired at this lovely, lilting layout 20 minutes east of Pebble Beach. On the surface, it may seem cosmetic: swapping out one kind of grass for another. But the new turf makes a staggering difference. The fairways are now fairer. The tees and greens are smoother. And a very public course now enjoys the spit-shined conditions that are normally reserved for exclusive country clubs.
Green fees: $115 to $195, www.carmelvalleyranch.com
If You Go
WHERE TO STAY
Highlands Inn, a Hyatt Hotel
A luxurious coastal property that boasts 48 freshly renovated rooms and suites, most with wood-burning fireplaces and dramatic ocean views. www.highlandsinn.hyatt.com
Monterey’s newest boutique hotel has 93 plushly appointed rooms and stands just blocks from the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. www.hotelabrego.com
WHERE TO EAT
Pacific’s Edge Restaurant
This signature restaurant of the newly renovated Highlands Inn features sophisticated seasonal California cuisine in a stunning setting, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coast. www.pacificsedge.com
A charming new restaurant just minutes from Pebble Beach, Bistro Beaujolais features a lively Mediterranean menu ranging from fresh oysters to steak frites. www.dagiovannis.com