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Friday, November 13, 2009

In A Fog At Half Moon Bay

18th Hole at Half Moon Bay Old CoursePlaying golf in thick fog really tests your confidence in your swing, something I tried to keep in mind while playing the Old Course at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA. When we stepped on the first tee, fog obliterated the view of everything beyond the forward tee box, giving us no indication of the line of the fairway or what hazards lay where. We played the first six holes in deep fog. It was a little disconcerting, but it also added some excitement to the round.

If, as I do, you believe that one of golf's greatest pleasures is the adventure of playing under challenging conditions that vary with every round, it's easy to swing away with full confidence.

Half Moon Bay is one place you can play that way, fog or not. The fairways are accommodating, the bunkering generally friendly, and the greens are large and not too severe. It is, after all, a resort course where showing the guests a good time is more important than beating their handicaps into submission. The course was built in 1973 and redesigned by Arthur Hills in 1999.

While the Old Course is a fairly unremarkable parkland track that winds through the residential neighborhood around the Ritz Carlton resort, the finishing holes are spectacular. The 17th is a 157-yard par three with the Pacific Ocean filling the vista behind the green. The 18th plays along the ocean for its full 384 yards, giving both your tee shot and approach an added element of danger. It is essential that you play the left side of the hole since an errant fade will send your ball over the cliffs to the beach far below.

I was told that the survival of this beautiful hole is very much in doubt since erosion apparently threatens to send it crumbling into the sea. A few years ago, the developers of the property built what turned out to be an illegal seawall in an effort to protect the green, but it was ordered removed after vehement protests by the Sierra Club. The bluffs continue to fall away and the hole may disappear in a few years, so schedule your round there sooner rather than later.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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