NCGA Golf

FALL 2017

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I went to UCLA. One of my kids was born in Southern California. My mom and sister still live there. I have many warm and fuzzy feelings for the sunny half of the Golden State, but when it comes to golf, NorCal is vastly superior. Let us count the ways. You can debate whether Pebble Beach (pictured) or Cypress Point is America's greatest golf course, but no Southern California track is even in the conversation. And on the Monterey Peninsula alone there are three other courses I'd rather play before teeing off at any of George Thomas's landlocked layouts: Spyglass Hill and the Dunes and Shore courses at Monterey Peninsula CC. In truth, I'm a fan of Thomas's work, but the most revered golf architect of all-time, Alister MacKenzie, has his own celebrated trifecta in Northern California: Cypress, Pasatiempo and the Meadow Club, to say nothing of the lovably scruffy muni Sharp Park. Outside of England, there is nowhere else in the world with such a concentra- tion of MacKenzie masterworks. That's saying something. When it comes to big-time tournaments, Northern California has proven to be a far superior destination. Pebble has hosted five U.S. Opens (with another on the docket in 2019) and a PGA Championship. Del Paso in Sacramento was the site of the U.S. Women's Open. The Olympic Club can boast four U.S. Opens, while Cypress Point has a Walker Cup on its resume and another slated in 2025. By that time, Harding Park will have been home to a World Golf Championship, Presidents Cup and PGA Cham- pionship. And yet, when it comes to golf in San Francisco, neither Harding nor Olympic makes my personal top 3; I'd rather peg it at San Francisco Golf Club, Cal Club or Lake Merced. The embarrassment of riches is accentuated by Northern California's wondrous topography, as there are celebrated golf courses with oceans views (Spanish Bay, Half Moon Bay); along- side alpine lakes (Edgewood), set in rugged mountains (Martis Camp); winding through vineyards (Silverado); and amidst the magical redwoods (Northwood). In Southern California you might get a stray canyon or glimpse of the desert between the condos, but its golf terrain is far inferior. So is the weather; in SoCal the only variety is between hot and really hot. NorCal is much more varied, and thus so are the playing conditions. No wonder it has birthed so many fantastic golfers: Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, Juli Inkster, Tony Lema and Paula Creamer, to name just a few. Don't get me wrong, Southern California is a terrific place for golf. It's just not nearly as good as the top half of the state. Alan Shipnuck is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and lives in Carmel . 30 FALL 2017 | NCGA.ORG POINT Northern California Clearly "The Best" BY ALAN SHIPNUCK COURTESY OF PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY

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