|11th Hole, Pasatiempo. Photo courtesy of Rob Babcock/Pasatiempo Golf Club|
Pasatiempo is only 6,521 yards from the tips, but it plays to a stalwart 72.4 rating/143 slope. Its dramatic elevation changes and seemingly endless natural hazards make for a rugged course whose difficulty is cranked up several notches by Mackenzie's strongly contoured greens and sprawling, glorious bunkers. Every hole seems to offer a risk and reward tactical choice and every green runs fast, true, and convoluted.
Each successive tee box presents you with a unique challenge. The opener is a 457-yard par four that requires a long, accurate approach as well as a powerful drive. The third hole, a magnificent 235-yard uphill par three, is protected not just by its length but by four menacing greenside bunkers along with a mind-messing cross bunker. The first par five you play, the sixth hole, is 567 yards, but believe it or not, accuracy counts more than length on every shot due to the tight fairway, cross bunkers, and long, narrow green. Next up is the shortest par four on the course, the 348-yard seventh hole, where trees from both sides nearly meet overhead to practically form a tunnel over the fairway. Needless to say, a controlled tee shot is essential.
Natural hazards abound on the back side. A bottomless ravine threatens both your drive and your approach on the 392-yard eleventh hole, then comes back into play guarding the green on the 373-yard twelfth. Fifteen is a 141-yard one-shotter perched behind another deep fissure in the earth's crust, as is the 169-yard finishing hole, which also slopes--and putts--more like an icy ski slope than a golf green.
|16th Hole, Pasatiempo. Photo courtesy of Rob Babcock/Pasatiempo Golf Club|
The club has hosted numerous USGA championships and is the permanent home of the Western Intercollegiate Golf Tournament where everyone from Ken Venturi and Gene Littler To Johnny Miller, Dave Stockton, and Tiger Woods competed during their college years. LPGA star Juli Inkster literally grew up on the course and Alister Mackenzie chose to live there--his home is along the fairway on the sixth hole. And here's an aside for New York area golfers: Mackenzie is believed to have worked on Century Country Club in Purchase while he was a partner with Colt & Allison, the official designers of the course.
One of the best features of Pasatiempo is its status as a semi-private club. Certain tee times are reserved for members, but you can book a time online as much as 365 days in advance. If you treasure the classical traditions of golf architecture or otherwise want a spectacular golf experience, book yours today!
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf