Half Moon Bay Golf Links is home to two outstanding 18 hole courses – the Arnold Palmer designed Old Course and the Ocean Course laid out by architect Arthur Hills. Each of the courses is unique and different from the other and each 18 has it's own personality and characteristics, for example:
- The Old Course is a traditional parkland style course with lots of out of bounds as it plays through a very upscale community and it is longer by 200 to 500 yards and more challenging
- The Ocean Course is a Scottish links course in the truest sense (wide open sweeping fairways, swaying natural grasses, and the roar of the wind and ocean) as it meanderers up and down a natural California coastal setting – read our review of the Ocean Course
Common to both courses is a fantastic clubhouse and grill, excellent service, very good conditions, and the spectacular "Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay" overlooking the clear blue Pacific Ocean. All of which are some of the reasons that Half Moon Golf Links was named by Business Week as "One of the 18 great Country Clubs for a day" and one of the "Best 10 New Upscale Golf Clubs" by Golf Digest.
The Old Course plays through a very well done housing community with a variety of interesting and different very beautiful homes which can come into play if you really spray the ball. Like a lot of Arnold Palmer designs the Old Course is fairly straight forward and traditional and most cases you can see the pin and what you're up against – no trick, gimmicks, or hidden gotchas. But at 7001 yards from the tips and a slope ranging from 75.2 to 70.1 and rating of 135 to 126, the Old Course is no walk in the park and can test your game. You'll encounter lots of out of bounds if you spray the ball, trees, plenty of bunkering, blind shots, risk reward opportunities, sharp dog legs, water hazards, contoured fairways, and challenging green complexes.
Some examples of the above include:
- #6 is a 418 yard par 4 with uphill blind shot to a sharp dog leg left green
- #9 is a scenic 357 yard par 4 with a green that has the blue water of the Pacific Ocean and the stately "Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay as a backdrop
- #13 is a pretty and challenging 192 yard par 3 that demands accuracy from the elevated tee box
- #15 is a very fun and treacherous 571 par 5 with a shot from an elevated tee box to a fairway that horseshoes left around two lakes
And then you'll come to the beautiful 17th where the hole emerges from the tree and house lined fairways to a wide open par 3 with the "Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay" and tennis courts off to the left and the Pacific straight in front of you. Awe inspiring until you get on the tee box of one of the most scenic holes in the United States. The mouth dropping dramatic 18th is a cliff-hanging 412 yard downhill par 4 that from tee to green run along side a towering sea cliff dropping off to a sandy beach with foamy white surf crashing on the sand and rocky outcroppings in the Pacific Ocean. You'll be tempted to sit here and enjoy the view and the crashing of the waves against the beach and rocks! You'll most likely want to head into the "Ritz`Carlton, Half Moon Bay's" Conservatory for a drink and to continue to soak in the awesome view and heckle some of the golfers as they approach the 18th green.
When we played in early March the fairways and rough were in very good condition. All of the fairways are rolling and contoured with some mounding. The tree lined fairways are ample and forgiving and the rough is playable – miss them both and you're in the back yard of homes that are well over $1 million!
The greens are average size (some are huge) with gentle slope and some undulation. When we played they were a little slow and bumpy thanks to a recent rain and lots of moisture. They ran true, were easy to read, and held the ball well. Putting was not an issue.
The bunker range in size and all were in perfect condition with soft fluffy sand. Most have a reasonable lip but watch out for the some that are steep and deep.
Bottom line – the Old Course is fair and forgiving and won't beat you up – this is an 18 where you relax and enjoy the scenery and you're fellow golfers and possibly turn in a very good score. And treat yourself and stay at the fantastic and very upscale "Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay Resort and then play both courses.
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The service and amenities at Half Moon Bay Golf Links are first class all the way from the bag boys to the cart ladies. The pro shop is well stocked, the restaurant and bar are excellent, and the practice facilities are very good.