CordeValle Golf Club is another RTJ Jr. gem

CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California: Another high-end option near Pebble Beach

For golfers not exactly on a budget, Pebble and CordeValle Golf Club would make a great 1-2 punch. CordeValle certainly complements a Pebble Beach experience since they couldn't be more different. Pebble has those iconic ocean views, while CordeValle is sprawled over 1,700 acres of meadows, hills, creeks and waterfalls.

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- When you think of golf in the Monterey Bay area, the first thing that comes to mind obviously is Pebble Beach. After all, Pebble Beach Golf Links is perennially ranked as one of the two or three best public access courses in the world. It has tons of history and great views, and even when it's not staging a U.S. Open, the PGA Tour still makes its annual stop there in the form of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

And while Pebble Beach should be on every avid golfer's bucket list, it's really just one of several great golf options in the area.

Just a few miles away you'll find Bayonet-Black Horse, a recently renovated gem that also has ocean views. And up the coast just a few miles is one of Alister MacKenzie's best, Pasatiempo Golf Club.

But if you're looking for a more modern luxury resort experience with a PGA Tour-quality golf course, world-class dining and accommodations in a serene mountain valley setting, you just have to know the way to San Jose.

Tucked away in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 45 minutes from Monterey and a half hour from San Jose is CordeValle Golf Club, the site of the PGA Tour's Open from 2010-13 (before it moved to the Napa Valley in 2014) as well as numerous other high level tournaments. In July 2016, it will play host to the first U.S. Women's Open in the Bay area.

For golfers not exactly on a budget with an extended vacation in the area, Pebble and CordeValle would make a great 1-2 punch. CordeValle certainly complements a Pebble Beach experience since they couldn't be more different. While Pebble has those iconic ocean views, CordeValle, derived from the Spanish phrase "el corazon del valle," or "heart of the valley," is sprawled over 1,700 acres of meadows, hills, creeks and waterfalls.

The 7,360-yard Robert Trent Jones II-designed course also sits next to the Clos La Chance winery and vineyard, and like Pebble, it's best experienced on foot with a caddie. But unlike Pebble, you can expect sunny skies most of the time without the fear of a marine layer rolling in since it's more inland. It's also usually warmer. Or as another option, you could pair it with Pasatiempo. In fact, there are packages available that do just that. Or you could just relax and stay at CordeValle.

CordeValle G.C.: Challenging and serene

On the first tee, there's the usual assortment of tees and scorecards, but there's also a small basket of pennies you can use for ball markers. It seems in stark contrast to the resort guest fees of $325, but somehow it's appropriate since it's just one of the things that make this experience unique.

Opened in 1999, Jones, who recently completed the renovation of Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach, designed CordeValle to be one of the world's finest golf courses. Impeccably maintained, of course, the layout traverses hills and valleys with elevated tees, around streams, California oaks and sycamores. It's also part of a private reserve with more than 1,000 protected acres, but best of all, it's a memorable golf experience.

Those aforementioned green fees and limited number of guests and members mean that on any given day, you might not see another group for several holes, meaning you won't feel rushed, and you won't be waiting on groups in front of you. It's not that pace of play is slow, but you definitely have a chance to soak in the experience and savor each shot.

For the Fry' Open, the nines were reversed for logistical reasons, but any way you play this top 100 public-access course, it's memorable, no matter which of the five sets of tees you use. There's a drivable par 4, the eighth, which plays over water for those willing to risk the high number. With the rough up, however, even if you make it over water and are just off the green to one side or another, par isn't guaranteed. The finishing stretch is particularly strong. It includes two risk-reward par 5s (15th and 18th). The last hole has water that comes into play often, including a large pond left of the green.

The CordeValle experience

CordeValle is best experienced with a couple of night's stay. The Rosewood Resort (owned by German high-tech billionaire Hasso Plattner, who also owns the NHL's San Jose Sharks) has just 45 rooms, but it's big on pampering. The golf practice facilities are off the charts nice and almost as fun as the course itself, so you might want to spend a good hour before and/or after your round there.

There's tennis, the winery next door, a 5,000-square-foot full-service spa, fitness room and incredible locker room facilities for both men and women. The dining options include Il Vigneto, which offers menus that take advantage of the region's fresh produce and on-site vineyard. The menu changes seasonably, which means it doesn't get any fresher. There's also the Lion's Peak Grill, which offers casual dining in an outdoor patio setting as well as the One Iron Bar.

Throughout the resort, guests can also view Plattner's incredible art collection, themed the "Celebration of Life." It includes the works of Dan Namingha, who depicts the traditions of the Tewa-Hopi tribe; as well as John F. Kennedy bronze sculptures and paintings by William Clutz and John Ferren and H. Joe Waldrum. And yes, fittingly, they are worth millions at a resort where no expense is spared.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

Related Links

It doesn't necessarily have to cost thousands of dollars to play Pebble Beach. Mike Bailey breaks down ways to book a tee time at perhaps North America's most iconic golf course.
4 Min Read
More from the author
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
May 3, 2019
Debate rages on whether a golf course property be based on current or highest use
7 Min Read
April 25, 2019
How four facilities got their stride back, and what struggling courses can learn from it
6 Min Read
August 9, 2022
GolfNow Compete, developed with input from Rory McIlroy, offers GPS yardages, hole maps, multiple games to play and a place to fire up your friendly, competitive juices.
5 Min Read
July 25, 2022
Dundonald's new luxury accommodations and clubhouse complement a Kyle Phillips-designed links that has hosted men's and women's Scottish Opens.
5 Min Read
August 1, 2022
Tips to enjoying special golf trips to Scotland, Ireland and Pinehurst highlight this month's Secrets column.
7 Min Read
August 10, 2022
Now 30-years mature, the statewide system of affordable golf courses offers adventure that doesn't have to break the budget.
Load More
Now Reading
CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California: Another high-end option near Pebble Beach