My final round of golf on this incredible California golf vacation was a little further south in Dana Point, California. Still keeping in the Troon Golf tradition for the week, I was playing yet another Troon managed course. This time it was at a course called Monarch Beach and was located right on the coastline. It felt like I was playing Pebble Beach on some those holes, as all I could see were fairways and the waves. One of the holes even forced me to hit an iron off the tee as I felt a driver would reach the beach.
The day started with a thirty minute drive for my 10:00 AM tee time. I stayed just outside Dana Point near Newport Beach up the coast. I was on a budget so I could not afford the $500 a night starting rates at the hotel at Monarch Beach. The hotel, ironically enough, has recently filed bankruptcy. I wonder if that has anything to do with their room rates?
When I got to the golf course I was confused as where to go. The course was literally wedged in between multiple housing complexes and was nearly impossible to find. I guess if you are a member at a course like this you know how to find it without too much trouble. But I eventually found the clubhouse, bypassed the valet (I am from Indianapolis, I do not require valet) and parked at the back of the parking lot. I changed shoes and headed to the practice area to get warmed up. But before I pulled out the flat stick I needed some coffee and a bite to eat. It was time for breakfast.
I grabbed a seat starring out over the ocean and ordered the single best stack of $25 pancakes I have ever had. They were topped with blueberries, fresh picked raspberries, and plump strawberries. I drenched them in syrup, covered them in butter, and had breakfast as if I was a member of the club. When I finished I headed to the putting green, grabbed a handful of golf balls, and quickly realized that I was putting on the fastest greens of the week.
After I was comfortable with the greens I headed to their practice nets. This course was so packed in between these homes that they did not have room for a range but rather had some nets setup allowing folks to hit some balls to get loose before his or her round. Shortly after I began hitting I made the realization that I was too excited about getting the chance to play here I headed back to the first tee to see if I could get out before my actual tee time. Fortunately there was a pair of gentlemen going out right then and I was paired with them. I introduced myself and they seemed nice enough to spend the day out on the course with.
By the first couple of holes I knew that these guys were going to provide me with some much appreciated conversation. They were locals and both had never played Monarch Beach before. One was a chemist and the other was a CPA. We talked real estate, yearly income as it relates to folks from the Midwest to those on the coast, and even about social media and their online reputations as professionals. By the end of the day we had shared a handful of missed putts and ended up having a drink at the 19th hole. I did not give them a business card (I know, I usually pass those out like candy) but didn’t feel that I needed to. I made a lasting effect on them and they on me. I couldn’t tell you their names but it was a great day filled with conversation that I would not soon forget.
The golf course itself was incredible. It started with an uphill par four that lead to an opening bogey. I managed to throw up some birdies with a few short holes toward the turn and gracefully threw up a one over 36 for the front nine. Into the back nine I managed to start strong and suddenly found myself two shots under par. I ended the day at one under with a 71 but just felt like I hit the ball well enough to shot in the mid sixties.
Hole three at Monarch Beach is their signature hole. It is a sharp dogleg to the left that has you starring straight out over the ocean. You tee off with no shot at the hole, yet it less than three hundred yards away. There are bunkers left and right and OB on the right hand side just past the bunkers. By the time you make it to your tee shot you are so scared that you can not hit anything but an iron.
There was even a camera on the next tee box to give you a memory of your time spent here. The green literally was right up next to the beach and from the next tee box you can see why they want to give you a chance to remember your round. There were even samples of celebrities that had played the course and had their picture taken on that hole spread out all over the clubhouse and on the golf carts. I bypassed the picture opportunity but I did snap a few on my iPhone. No pictures, however, will do this view justice.
The round served as my conclusion of courses for the week. It was a long week and I played a lot of golf, but it was worth every second. I only lost three balls all week, and one was due to a cut that was caused by a cart path. Sure, it gave me a handful of extra yards, but in the end the ball was worthless. For three rounds of golf a sleeve of balls isn’t too bad, though.
If you ever get the chance to head to Monarch Beach, or Dana Point for that matter, do. You are right on the coast, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you occupied, and if all else fails you have Newport Beach right there to soak up the sun in an attempt to a nice golden tan. Not to mention the scenery of mansions and the golf courses that are all over the area. My trip was a success and I am glad that I got the chance to play these golf courses. Working at a firm that has ties to Troon is a great honor and to be able to play these courses is a true blessing. So until the next time I visit a Troon golf course remember to always tee it high and let it fly.