A Most Personal Legacy

Dr Alister MacKenzie was the man responsible for designing a collection of the world’s best-known courses - but it is at Pasatiempo where you’ll find arguably his own most favoured work

Dr Alister MacKenzie’s distinctive bunkering on show at the par-5 13th

From Bob Jones to Tiger Woods, the greats of the game have trodden the fairways of Pasatiempo and images from their visits are framed in Hollins House, a property built in 1929 by Marion on a commanding high promontory just up from the clubhouse looking down to Monterey Bay.

Pasatiempo is considered by many to be one of the great walks in golf and likewise, Hollins House would have to be regarded as one of the premium post-round relaxation spots the game has to offer. Sitting on the verandah, enjoying pork belly chicharrones, littleneck clams and Blue Point oysters from the tapas menu, as the sun slipped slowly into the Pacific, made prising ourselves away from Pasatiempo excruciatingly difficult.

Noted course architects Tom Doak, who is best known for his designs at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand and Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes, was engaged by Pasatiempo to create a masterplan for the ‘Preservation and Enhancement’ of Dr MacKenzie’s creation, based on the discovery of some long-lost photographs and slides from the club’s early history by club historian, Robert Beck.

"With a course of such historic significance and recognized quality of design, our mission in formulating a master plan is simple: to preserve the MacKenzie legacy as well as possible, considering the modern realities of golf,” Doak said.

Completed in 2007 but carried out with reverential care and attention over a number of years, the results from the restorative work have been stunning. The bunkering and green complexes are classic MacKenzie and Doak has restored them to their original glory – gaping faces of white taunting you from tees and fairways, subtle to wildly undulating greens of superb quality to test the nerve and short game prowess of even the very best.

The opening tee shot, with the town of Santa Cruz beyond and Monterey Bay glistening in the background sets the early scene for a playing experience of a lifetime.

The rolling terrain provides for great variety in the routing of holes, as do the integration into the design of the deep ravines, or barrancas that crisscross the property. Playing along and across these unkempt natural areas are a feature at Pasatiempo and their appearance have been restored to their menacing best based on the images of the course from early years.


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