Remarkable Hole 16


Pasatiempo Golf Club:

Alister MacKenzie's Santa Cruz Mountain Treasure.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


The stark elevations and stunning vistas of Pasatiempo Golf Club in the Santa Clara Mountains of California bear little resemblance to a certain northeastern Georgia course that captures the attention of the golfing world each spring. However, it is the genius of legendary golf course architect, Dr. Alister MacKenzie that has forever linked these two vastly different regions through golf. Bobby Jones, the visionary behind Augusta National and ultimately the Masters, was invited by Cypress Point founder Marion Hollins, to play in the opening group at a newly built private golfing enclave she championed in the mountains above the beautiful coastal city of Santa Cruz. This visit to Pasatiempo in September 1929 left Jones so impressed with MacKenzie's design that the offer was made for the two to collaborate on Augusta National.


MacKenzie’s timeless designs led to his posthumous induction in The World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005 - the first course architect achieving such an honor. With a North American portfolio including Augusta National, Cypress Point and Crystal Downs and an international collection including Australia's Royal Melbourne and Lahinch in Ireland it's hard to argue that his timeless creations are places that hold some of the most historic and revered stories in golf. Pasatiempo may not be mentioned in the same conversations as those others, but it was so close to the heart of MacKenzie that he made his American home along the par 5 sixth hole. This 6500 yard charmer displays the genius of his design philosophy - greens filled with daunting sharp slopes, strategic use of elevation change and bunkers placed in just the perfect spot to swallow shots the least bit off line.


Hole 3


This former private facility now provides the general public with access to these hallowed fairways.  The course  was restored in the 90's by Tom Doak and Renaissance Golf  bringing back the splendor of the course's 1929 opening. Doak aimed to return all the sprawling bunker complexes and nasty shelves in the greens placed there by Mackenzie with the end result being a magnificent experience of old-school design rarely seen in contemporary architecture . The course is not overly lengthy by today's standard, but don't let that lull you into thinking the routing will be a pushover. The location's mountainous elevation changes make the routing play a few hundred yards longer than the card. Trying to hold these greens with long irons and hybrids can be a daunting task. Tightly routed through the large coastal trees and incorporating many forced carries over ravines, precise shot making is far more valuable at Pasatiempo than is length.



Santa Cruz, California


Editor's Shot Maker's Picks: Pasatiempo Golf Club

Featured Holes
Hole 3
Hole 10
Hole 11
Hole 16
Par 3
Par 4
Par 4
Par 4

Feature Holes Descriptions:

The first of the short holes is anything but - playing 214 yards uphill to an elevated green site hole number three may require a driver or fairway wood to reach the putting surface. The ideal tee-shot plays high and left to right avoiding the trio of deep bunkers in front and two behind the green that swallows anything hit a bit strong or thin. A severe false front funnels anything hit short down the slope to a collection area requiring a delicate touch with a flip wedge to stand any chance at a well earned par. The opening hole on the back side is a beastly par 4 played first over a deep barranca that is shared with  the devilish par 3 finishing hole. The blind tee shot must clear a rise and favour the right side as the fairway steeply falls away on the left. The wide and wildly sloped green is protected by a series of seven bunkers front left and one back right putting considerable demands on your long iron approach.


Hole 13


The 11th hole is an uphill par 4 requiring nerves of steel off the tee to avoid the deep ravine left that also extends through the fairway swallowing any drive struck with too much vigor. The ideal placement of the drive is left of center to leave a long to mid-iron approach shot across the abyss into a green site protected both left and right by deep bunkers. Many debate that the 16th should be in the conversation of best par 4 holes in the country. The drive must contend with OB right, but a manageable fairway wood gently drifting right to left will set you up for the most challenging approach on the course. The huge multi-level green perched behind a deep chasm is filled with severe slopes and shelves. Finding your ball above or across the green will make two putting for par a difficult and ultimate challenge.


Impressive conditioning combined with the terrific historic routing made for my Pasatiempo round being a most memorable one. The traditionalist in me welcomed the old-school design philosophy. The opening trio of holes on each side set the tone with most of the course's teeth being found in those stretches. Patatiempo is a thinking man's design, forcing you to play the hole in your head off the tee before you set sail on the journey of conquest. Calculating where the best miss is to be found will save you plenty of grief if you happen to struggle with your plan. With false fronts and severe slopes in the greens many approaches will find you hitting to the middle of greens and possibly still needing a wedge to chip on after the ball catches a runaway slope. Not everyone has the opportunity to play many of MacKenzie's other magnificent designs, but if you find yourself in the Santa Cruz area, you would certainly be remise in not walking the hallowed fairways once called home by one of the most noted and celebrated architects in golf history.


Course Stats:

Par 70
71.7 / 136
70.7 / 129
76.5 / 130
67.4 / 122
73.5 / 125



Pasatiempo Golf Club

20 Clubhouse Road

Santa Cruz, CA































Hole 15





Photography courtesy of Rob Babcock/Pasatiempo Golf Club