The Grapes of Path: Paso Robles, California proves a premier golf, wine and dine getaway

PPASO ROBLES, Calif. -- Good golf, much like good wine, all begins with quality soil.

Located amid the bosom of California's Central Coast, the burgeoning destination of Paso Robles presents an open-armed serving of rolling vineyards, craft dining and a buzzing wine scene that gains national clout on a yearly basis.

And the golf terra firma proves equally delectable.

Paso Robles Golf Club

At one time a private facility, Paso Robles Golf Club has enjoyed some renovation love in recent years and exists in modern day as a readily enjoyable (not to mention affordable) play for both locals and visitors. Classic, early-1960s routing and design defines the par-70 layout, which brings enough water into play to keep shot-making demands consistent throughout.

An ever-intriguing front side highlights the peaceful, albeit residentially lined grounds, where a dial-down in club selection brings par continually into play.

The 489-yard, par-5 opener features a dogleg left and O.B. lurking on the far right. With ample bunkering guarding the green and sneaky water deep left, laying up to wedge distance for the approach is well advised.

Holes 4-6 weave deeper into the property and offer an excellent mesh of privacy and tree-laden routing. Following the uphill, 169-yard fourth with a tee shot over streaming water, the dramatically doglegged, 322-yard fifth asks for a studied fade around a massive oak adjacent to water on the right. The meaty, 225-yard sixth ensues with lake water deep left while taunting the aggressive to play for the pin.

Rounding back to the Paso Robles clubhouse, the 349-yard ninth features a water hazard in the deep fairway, asking long ballers to play a 3-wood before wedging to a dramatically uphill putting surface.

Hunter Ranch Golf Course

Having celebrated its 20th vintage, nicely priced Hunter Ranch Golf Course ages like a fine varietal.

Set amid verdant, rolling hills, abutting vineyards and mature Blue Oaks, the tranquility of these grounds pair perfectly with the mellow milieu of Paso. Free of homes or parallel fairways, the setting truly lends itself to escape.

But don't be subdued by the mood -- there's some teeth (and quirk) here to be sure, and first-timers will likely struggle with the continual roll of subtle elevation changes mixed with some blind shots and well manicured, albeit testy bentgrass greens.

Bagging the driver proves key on several of Hunter Ranch Golf Course's short par 4s and doglegged par 5s, with said study of club selection proving well evident on Nos. 9-13.

Hunter Ranch is the type of golf course that bears playing more than once to obtain the feel, and newbies will be well served to navigate toward the 150 poles while keeping approaches below holes to avoid short game bungles.

Off course: Paso Robles wine country

Recognized by Wine Enthusiast as "Wine Region of the Year," the better than 200 wineries (producing more than 40 varietals) that spread across Paso are a measure of idyllic terrain meeting oftentimes bold and creative flavors.

Take a stop at Halter Ranch Vineyard, where homages to the property's past are as rich as the winery's modern-day design. The 2011 Cotes de Paso counts among the favorites here, and the traditional style of the 2013 Cotes de Paso Blanc is an excellent mirror of tradition meeting the future.

For a truly bucolic experience, drive out to Villa-San Juliette in neighboring San Miguel, where Tuscan-inspired design pairs in total harmony with the 168-acre estate. Lively flavors are in play here, with a glass experienced with an outdoor table and artisanal pizza on the Small Plates menu.

A pastoral tasting at Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery proves worthy for historians alone; ensure a ride through the property in the vintage Jeep before getting the story of "The Crash."

Downtown Paso Robles

Stroll the storybook square before delving into a host of choice dining options that impress with distinct communal touches and locally sourced platings.

Ensure a dinner at the excellent Il Cortile, where an ever-evolving, seasonal Italian menu pleases from Antipasta to entree. Smart environs and a thorough, locally dotted wine list complement the fresh stylings.

At Thomas Hill Organics, start with a drink in the Wine Lounge before tabling-up to an abundance of regional offerings, which range from meats and fish to fruits, vegetables and breads from in-town bakeries.

The Paso Robles Inn is your traditional steakhouse of choice, where a welcome hearth and bold cabernet makes for a perfect way to wind down after a day of golf and touring.

Judd Spicer is an award-winning, veteran freelance writer hailing from St. Paul, Minn. After 12 years of covering MLB, NBA, NCAA and the active golf landscape of the Twin Cities, he relocated to the Palm Spring, Calif. region to further pursue his golf work and Champions Tour dream. Sporting measured distance off the tee, Spicer refers to his pitching wedge as his "magic wand." Follow Judd on Twitter at @juddspicer.

Related Links

If you're flying into San Francisco and making your way toward San Diego for four or five days, what golf courses should you play? That's what one reader from Maine wanted to know, and Mike Bailey offers up some advice for affordable golf as well as bucket-list choices.
3 Min Read
More from the author
5 Min Read
March 3, 2017
It's not as well known as Riviera Maya or Cabo Del Sol, but Mazatlan has a trio of great value resort golf courses and a laid back ocean vibe.
3 Min Read
March 2, 2017
Located 30 minutes from the heart of Mazatlan's tourist activity Estrella Del Mar Golf & Beach Resort is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. course that makes for the destination's top tee time.
4 Min Read
May 24, 2016
For some variation in your Palm Springs itinerary, blow on over 10 miles to Desert Dunes Golf Club, a re-polished gem that's finding new life in recent years.
4 Min Read
April 1, 2016
A match of classic, SoCal cool and contemporary resort amenities make for a choice stay-and-play at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.
4 Min Read
February 10, 2016
Set amid southern California's placid Temecula Valley wine country, the 27 holes at the Temecula Creek Inn offer a vintage diversity to all golfers. And it's just a three-minute wooded walk from your bed to the first tee.
2 Min Read
November 6, 2015
The prettier of Primm Valley Golf Club's dual Tom Fazio designs, the Lakes Course proves an engaging round that will test the irons throughout, and it proves a worthy stop for all comers. It's also a bargain. "If you took this course and put it right in Vegas ... they could charge five times as much for the greens fees," one local golfer said.
6 Min Read
March 8, 2023
These eight special golf resorts west of the Mississippi River mix the thrills of the wild west with the spoils of a high-end golf retreat.
3 Min Read
March 6, 2023
The coastal stretch from Jacksonville to St. Augustine features plenty of strong value golf courses near the home of the Players Championship and PGA Tour headquarters.
2 Min Read
March 13, 2023
This new brand brings the funkiest and funniest fashions to the golf course.
4 Min Read
March 20, 2023
Your fellow golfers showed their love for these courses via GolfPass Golfers' Choice lists. They're worth including in your next trip.
Now Reading
The Grapes of Path: Paso Robles, California proves a premier golf, wine and dine getaway