Course Review: Bayonet (Seaside, CA)

October 5, 2011

Today, I review yet another gem of the Monterey Peninsula – Bayonet.

A quick shout-out to for making this round happen. I had, on Wednesday (9/28) expressed my dissatisfaction with my recent rounds at Palo Alto Muni and Shoreline to JK when he suggested I run down to Monterey and get in a real round. In order to assuage curiosity, I logged onto and searched for cheap tee times for the coming weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find an 11:10am tee time on Sunday for $54 (rack rate $120). Considering I had just paid $49 to play (read: suffer) the Palo Alto Muni for 6 hours, I jumped on the deal. Thank you, Golfnow! On to the review!

While I was driving out of Mountain View towards Seaside, the weather looked somewhat unfavorable for playing a nice course. During my warm-up and first two holes, the sky remained close to the picture above. As I finished my 3rd hole (actual 12th hole), the sky broke and the Monterey Bay was visible from all parts of the course.

The golfing experience is always colored by those with whom one plays. Today, I was joined by a true gentleman named we will call Dan. He was a joy to play with and very knowledgeable about his golf (having played 60 of the top 100 courses). It was lucky for me that Dan had also played Bayonet in his travels. His notes were very helpful tee to green.

The course is part of a 36-hole military affiliated complex just north of Monterey. The slogan is Bayonet and Black Horse: the best 36 holes on Monterey Bay. Attorneys and sticklers for detail will have to agree (Pebble and Cypress aren’t technically on Monterey Bay). Don’t let the military designation make you skeptical, at least 18 of the 36 of some of the finest holes I’ve had the opportunity to play in my time in Northern California.

The Course:

The condition of this course was immaculate. Little did I know, but my round was the day before a Monday Qualifier for the Open. From the appearance, however, this condition is the usual faire for Bayonet and Black Horse. This course will also be hosting the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship (Not to be confused with the Major – though the top 20 do qualify for the PGA Championship). Those honors may give you a sense for the prestige and quality of the course, but the layout is impressive and very playable for any golfer.

From the tips, this course demands long, accurate tee shots. The rough, while not difficult to get out of, makes holding these hard, fast greens nearly impossible. You’ll definitely want to be hitting out of the short stuff on this course. This course does afford the American golfer the unique opportunity to play a few bump and runs, as well as longer “running” shots into the greens, but again, accuracy off the tee is the only way to setup those optional routes. I was surprised and ended up having to adjust for actually getting roll with my 60* wedge on this course. No longer was I able to short side myself and get up and down. For once, strategic planning had to go into planning my approach shots. I hope I get the chance to repay this course for the damage it did to my short game’s ego. One nice thing about the hard and fast greens, though, was that my confidence that I am a good putter was reconfirmed. I made some longer putts and some breaking putts that normally would have lipped out at my usual courses due to JK and my nemesis, the “lumpy doughnut.”

One note: If you are considering making a trip, do it soon. Construction is underway on several houses that will sit between some of the prettier holes on the course. Some of these houses will sit very close to the greens and will likely throw off the aesthetic of the course. Moreover, I personally dislike the claustrophobic feeling of playing between houses. It’s also better on my score, generally, to play out of the trees than someone’s backyard. One quick story on this point: I drove my tee shot on the par-4 5th hole way right. The dirt layout of the house that will soon occupy that spot setup a clean, unobstructed second shot of only 111 yards to the green. I like to think that I made par out of someone’s guest bedroom on that hole.

I was also informed during the round that this course was recently redesigned and rerouted to include some holes from the old Black Horse course. Though I am unable to locate any substantive details of this redesign, I can say that the result was a success in my book.

The Facility:

The Bayonet and Blackhorse Facility has one of the best practice complexes one could hope for. The redesign appears to have moved the driving range from near the 18th to near the 1st hole. While this does create some problems if you hit your Titleist 7 into the sea of Titleist practice balls that showers the left side of the first hole, it does not undermine the quality of the range. The range has three hitting areas (all with grass tees), a large bunker with REAL sand and nearly every lie imaginable and a REAL green to hit onto, a large undulating practice green, and even a chipping/pitching area with yet another REAL green. Of all of the practice facilities that I’ve visited in Northern California, I think I would have to take this one in my backyard. Oh, did I mention the whole facility has bent grass greens as well? They must know their audience at the PF.

One detail that often goes overlooked in reviews is the quality of the power carts. While JK and I both prefer to walk, we aren’t going to pass up free carts when they are included in the greens fee. Bayonet had exceptionally nice carts which included free water bottles, tees, and towels for cleaning clubs.

During my round, I stopped in at the watering hole at the turn and was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t being terribly ripped off for food at a nice course. I paid a total of $10 for a handmade turkey sandwich, chips, and soda. On the other hand, I normally like to procure a yardage book from nicer courses that have them. In this case, while the course had one, I refused to spend $20 for it. For those who can’t live without them, this one was the equivalent of a tour yardage book with all kinds of crazy slopes and angles written in. I’m pretty sure 90% of the measurements wouldn’t be useful to 99% of the people that play these courses, but who am I to tell them not to have them?

Bits and Pieces

While there is no “near-hole-in-one” from Bayonet, one other item from the course bears mentioning. The starter that greeted me prior to my round was exceptionally nice. He welcomed me, asked me about the course, asked whether I was playing in the Qualifier (one day…), and remembered my name as I made the turn. Starters, and the staff generally, like this can really put the feather in the cap of a nice course. So to you, sir, if you ever read this, thanks for being a nice guy. You are doing a great service to your employer and I hope he repays you in kind.

JK Notes:

I played this course (well, one of these courses) several years ago with my brother-in-law. Much as you describe, the weather was something I remember well. It was warm to start the day. Just when it was getting a little hot, the fog rolled in from the Monterrey Bay and cooled us off, only for the sun to run a few holes later.

What I remember of the course, it was very fair, moderately open, and very enjoyable. I’m glad you made the trip down–and this is an excellent review.

One Response to “Course Review: Bayonet (Seaside, CA)”

  1. […] from him.  See our review of Bayonet as well:   Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted by LG Filed in Uncategorized Leave a […]

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