When it gets cold and foggy in the winter or scorching hot during the summer here in California’s Central Valley, most residents escape to nearby getaways. In winter the aim is to escape the cold, foggy, overcast chilly days and find the sun. During the summer we hunt for cooler climates in order to find relief from the 100 degree plus heat. We go to where the sun is away from the fog in winter and travel to cooler places during the summer. You have two options, the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains or the Pacific Coast.
I enjoy going to the mountains occasionally, but I prefer the Coast. My roots are Greek and my grandfather was a merchant seaman so the ocean calls loudly to me. I am an ocean person, and that is where I go to escape when I need a change from the Central Valley weather extremes. San Luis Obispo County is my ocean place and I normally end up in the small town of Morro Bay, California. Of course, many time when I take the two and a half hour drive there I play golf at Morro Bay Golf Course.
Morro Bay Golf is located just south of town and is built on the side of a mountain within the boundaries of Morro Bay State Park. If you are driving to the course from the south, be careful because the road up the hill which takes you to the course is not marked and sort of sneaks up on you. That’s OK because if you do miss the turn, you are in for a real treat. The road loops around the State Park and campground besides the bay and you get a delightful view of the course on the right with the bay and Morro Rock on your left. Finally, you come to the city side of the course and the road which is marked that takes you to the clubhouse. This is the other end of the cut off that you may of missed that takes you to the clubhouse from the south.
With the views from the course of Morro Rock, Morro Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond the course has the nickname of “A Poor Man’s Pebble Beach”. Although the course is not directly situated on the ocean, it is easy to see why it has been called this. The views from the course are breathtaking, and each hole comes with different sort of vista. Golf and this kind of beauty, it just doesn’t get any better.
The course is an old style course built on the side of a hill. The “Old Girl” never looks her age as the course is always in great shape given the amount of rounds played on her each year. Fairways are lined by huge eucalyptus and cypress trees and the greens are small. Speaking of the greens, they are quick and very hard to read. When you are reading the greens always remember where you are in relation to Black’s Mountain–the volcanic peak towering behind the golf course–and the bay. Notice I didn’t say ocean. The course is kind of on a peninsula so just remember that the greens generally break away from the mountain and toward the water, wherever you are in relationship to the water. I would highly suggest that you take note of where the green is as you are walking up to it to putt which will give you a better idea of the orientation of the green in relationship to the hill.. When you are on the green, don’t trust your eyes. Remember where the mountain is and where the water is. By about the third hole I can almost guarantee that you will be talking to yourself. Don’t worry about scoring though, just have fun and enjoy the views. If you do score well, that’s a plus.
Don’t worry too much about bunkers. I talked to a man who plays the course regularly and he said there are only six of them. There is a reason for this. The course was built in 1925 as a nine hole track and then was extended to eighteen at a later date. The course was tremendously busy, so in order to speed up play most of the original bunkers were removed. It was later discovered that this didn’t speed up play and that it was the difficult to read greens that were slowing up play. The bunkers were not replaced, so when you played the course you just had to sit back and enjoy the experience. With the opening up of more courses in the San Lus Obispo County area, the play logjam has lightened up considerably and the pace of play has picked up. Expect a four and a half hour round when you play the course at a leisurely pace. But you don’t want to rush so enjoy the course and the views.
I have been asked many time what my favorite hole is on the course. Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. How could I? Each hole has just a bit of a different flavor and a different view. I will say that after battling the slopes and side hills of the front nine, I enjoy playing the back nine a bit more than the front nine. It’s a bit more on the level side, but you still play up the hill the last few holes to get back to the clubhouse. If I am partial to a hole, I would have to say number 10 a downhill par three. This is because of the view and it is just a lot of fun to play.
Of all the courses that I have played, this course goes high on my list of favorites. It is always different and you never quite know what to expect. It is a fun course and will challenge your game. And the views–what can I say?