Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 16
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 16
The elevated 16th tee of the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links provides a bird's eye view of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 1
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 1
A large hump in front of the first green of the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links repels shots. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 2
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 2
At 344 yards, the second hole is the shortest par 4 on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 3
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 3
Small dunes frame the 150-yard third hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 4
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 4
A trap gobbles up any errant second shot on the par-5 fourth hole of the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links in California. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 7
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 7
Take an extra club to clear the water on the 172-yard seventh hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 6
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 6
The Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links can look like Scotland at times. Check out the rolling hills beyond the sixth green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 8
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 8
The 526-yard eighth hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links bends left and finishes at a demanding green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 10
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 10
Grassy dunes block the opening to the par-5 10th green on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 12
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 12
The back nine of the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links -- like the par-3 12th hole -- starts to showcase the Pacific Ocean. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 13
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 13
The elevated tee on the par-4 13th hole of the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links drops to well guarded fairway. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 15
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 15
After the 15th green, the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links follows the coastal cliffs toward the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 17
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 17
Misses left of the par-3 17th green on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links are doomed. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 18
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Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links - hole 18
After a blind tee shot over a cliff, the par-5 18th hole on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links ends at an elevated green that's tough to hit and hold. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
14 Images

Half Moon Bay Golf Links' Ocean Course: Get a taste of Scotland in northern California

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- The omnipresent ocean views and firm-and-fast conditions certainly help the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links look and play like a links.

A blind shot, sounds of the bagpipe and gloomy, overcast weather -- all recognizable to any golfer who has made the pilgrimage overseas -- deliver a fully authentic links experience.

Arthur Hills designed the 6,854-yard course in 1997 on a windswept, open expanse along the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean 30 miles south of San Francisco. In theory, his five par-5/five par-3 routing should help players to score better. That's rarely the case. While the fescue lining wide fairways is punishing if players find it, the biggest challenge comes on the approach shots. Only a few heavily contoured greens allow bouncing the ball in, like a true links. Plateaued putting surfaces on holes 1, 2, 8, 9 and 18 tend not to relent to the ground game. Neither do the par-3 seventh and par-4 16th holes, both guarded in front by hazards.

Those who catch Half Moon Bay on a clear day are blessed the spectacular scenery from the elevated tees at holes 2, 13 and 16. Nobody should fear the blind tee shot at no. 18, a strong par 5 that finishes next to the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. There's a massive fairway hidden above the coastal chasm that must be cleared. The sounds of the bagpiper, who plays at the hotel at dusk Wednesday through Sunday, can waft in on the breeze.

Plenty of famous players have teed it up on the Ocean Course. Paula Creamer won the LPGA Samsung Golf Championship in 2008. Audemars Piguet, a luxury watch manufacturer, held an event played by Sir Nick Faldo, Billy Horschel, Ian Poulter, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Louis Oosthuizen, Victor Dubuisson and Bud Cauley the same week as the 2015 World Golf Championships, Cadillac Match Play Championship at TPC Harding Park.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

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Half Moon Bay Golf Links' Ocean Course: Get a taste of Scotland in northern California