Is Pasatiempo Golf Club MacKenzie’s Best Work?

Is Pasatiempo Golf Club MacKenzie’s Best Work?

Santa Cruz, CA, USA

I was fortunate to play four days in a row at Pasatiempo Golf Club in 2007 as a sophomore in college. This happened to be the same year the club completed its restoration project under the eye of Tom Doak.

Pasatiempo was originally designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. In fact, he actually claimed Pasatiempo to be the best layout he ever designed. This is certainly high praise from a legendary golf architect. Now consider that he is not only saying this is his best layout, but that it beats out Cypress Point and Augusta National. That’s a tall order to fill.

The course tells the tale of two distinct nines. First, the front nine offers many straight away and often tree-lined holes. Then the back nine dips and dives with many holes featuring deep ravines on approach to the green.

The bunkering is classic MacKenzie. It’s deep faced with a lot of character, always intimidating the golfer on their final look to the target before pulling the trigger.

The most famous green has to be the 16th, with its false front and severe triple tier surface. The approach requires both precise distance and spin control. The often-receptive Poa Annua greens make it difficult to maintain an approach on the correct level.

To many, Pasatiempo Golf Club does not rank as highly when compared to Cypress Point and Augusta National. However, it is without doubt a beautiful and challenging layout from start to finish.

Photo Credit: © Gary Lisbon | | IG: @garylisbongolf