NCGA Golf

Spring 2018

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J ust as many Americans on either coast of our country think of vast swathes of the U.S. as "flyover country," it can be easy for Californians to think of the Golden State as the Bay Area and Los Angeles without much regard for what's in-between. But you, the traveling golfer, should not make that mistake – and a good reason to celebrate the more central section of Cali- fornia is a city that's literally halfway be- tween San Francisco and L.A.: Paso Robles. Spring is an especially good time to visit Paso Robles, which is roughly 20 minutes inland from the Pacific on the border be- tween San Luis Obispo and Monterey – about as far south as you can go and still consider yourself in Northern California. Summers can be hot and winters can be wet, but spring usually brings dry, warm, Mediterranean-type weather to a strong group of golf courses. The city's highest-rated public course is Hunter Ranch, which con- sistently earns 4 or 4.5 stars from Golf Digest's Best Places to Play ranking. Designers Ken Hunter and Mike McGinnis were inspired by Australian sand belt courses and the work of architect and 2017 NCGA Hall of Fame inductee Alister MacKenzie, and the layout looks the part – you can see the influence of Pebble Beach Golf Links and Au- gusta National on the raised greens, and the Down Under look of the clubhouse and The Grill restaurant add a charming touch. Hunter Ranch also offers Quick.golf on certain days, a program that allows golfers to play for $4 a hole – check with the course beforehand to see if Quick.golf is being offered on the day you're visiting. Speaking of quick, a unique golf and dining experience can be found at River Oaks Golf Course. The development in- cludes a six-hole "player development" course consisting of five par-3s and one par-4, meant for a fast round for experi- enced players or a nice way for beginners to ease into the game. On site is Mistura, a highly rated Peruvian restaurant with haute cuisine and a comprehensive wine list – fit- ting for Paso Robles' location in the heart of Wine Country. If Peruvian isn't your style, Mistura's owners also run the highly regarded Mama's Meatball Italian restau- rant in nearby San Luis Obispo. Another highly regarded local course is The Links at Paso Robles, co-designed by Rudy Duran – best known as one of the teachers who helped shape Tiger Woods' swing as a youngster. As you'd expect from the name, The Links is inspired by the great courses of Scotland. Other courses in town that are worth checking out include Paso Robles Golf Club, Cypress Ridge and Monarch Dunes. Beyond the golf course, Paso Robles is definitely a spot where you'll want to enjoy some locally-grown wines. Adelaida Vineyards and Winery (above) offers daily tours from March through October, and offers tastings at its Hilltop facility more than 2,000 feet above sea level. Guests are also welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy near Adelaida's walnut orchard. Another fun wine stop is Halter Ranch, which has a state of the art winery on a historic property accessi- ble by covered bridge. For $45, you can enjoy the three-hour Excursion Tour of the property, which includes tastings while you learn about the land and wine-making process. You can use your drive home from Paso Robles along Highway 101 to stop off at Hearst Castle (left), roughly an hour north of town. The National Historic Landmark has more than 160 rooms, all built under the watchful eye of William Randolph Hearst and showcasing a breathtak- ing marriage of art and architecture. It's a good place to reflect on how Paso Robles and the surrounding area may be a bit "in-between," but they are far from forgettable. 12 SPRING 2018 | NCGA.ORG DAYtrip S H A G B A G Paso Robles Paso Robles

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