If you are traveling or staying around the Central Coast region of California and looking to play a little golf, do yourself a favor and play a round – or two – at the Morro Bay Golf Course.
The course was originally called the Cabrillo Country Club and was built in 1923, starting with 9 holes – the current back 9 – that were designed by Quintin Miller and E.W. Murphy.
The original clubhouse is now the parking lot for the Morro Bay Museum. In 1934 the California State Parks division purchased the property. Since that time the golf course has been managed by numerous entities, including the current manager – San Luis Obispo County.
In 1951, the front nine holes were completed, and the new clubhouse was built. In 1957 the course name was changed to Morro Bay Golf Course. The only redesign on the course was done in 1987 on hole No. 15 by Robert Muir Graves to make it a dogleg.
Many refer to the course as the Poor Man’s Pebble Beach, a moniker people associated with the course appreciate as opposed to how those at the Pacific Grove Golf Links look at the name.
The Morro Bay Golf Course sits inside the Morro Bay State Park and Estuary. The course has been awarded a Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary due to the many birds and wildlife that call the course home.
The course is a joy to play and a bargain price-wise compared to other courses in the area. At $45 during the week and $54 on weekends and holidays, Morro Bay screams to be played.
The Morro Bay Golf Course features tree-lined fairways with greens that are hard to read. All putts break an additional two inches to the water no matter how they are sloped.
It is traditional that putts will always break towards the water on any coastal course, but it did a take a couple holes to realize there was extra break.
The course plays 6,360 yards from the tips, 6,083 yards from the blue, 5,633 from the white tees and 5,055 from the forward tees. It carries a slope of 119 from the back tees. Before thinking it’s a short course from the tips, keep in mind you are playing in the heavier air of the coast.
The opening nine – located on the upper half of the course – starts with a birdie option on the 496-yard, par 5, provided the wind is blowing as it usually will be at the back of the golfer. That luxury is gone on the second hole which plays right into the wind and at 440 yards, the par 4 can be a beast with the wind blowing.
The 6th hole is a unique one as it features a massive target–an ancient pine tree that provides direction. The 8th hole is a 232-yard, par 3 that is straightforward and features a large green.
The closing hole on the front features the best view of the water, but enjoy the view because the 442-yard, par 4 is a tough one with OB stakes both long and right guarding the green.
Cross the road that runs through the middle of the course to get to the back 9.
The 10th hole is benign, but the fun starts on the next hole when you have a three-hole stretch with tough greens. The 11th only plays 333 yards, but the green is sloped severely from right to left. All approaches must land to the right of the pin to play the slope.
Arguably the toughest green on the course awaits at No. 12, a 373-yard par 4. The green slopes left to right and it’s best to hit to the middle of the green, try to get your par and move happily on to the next hole.
No. 13 was one of my favorite holes on the course. At 439 yards, the approach is a bear and with a green that slopes from back to front, if you are above the hole you run the risk of putting it off the green if you’re not careful.
The 15th was the redesign and made into a 347-yard dogleg left. There is temptation to play the tee shot up the 16th fairway, but it’s now OB so that option is taken away. If you are successful going over the trees, a simple approach awaits.
The 17th is another beast of a par 3 playing 239 yards. I love a tough closing hole and you have that here. Playing 380 yards, No. 18 plays into the wind and uphill.
Yes, the green is huge, but that makes for some interesting putts if you are not close to the hole. Birdie is something to hang your hat on, with par likely to leave a smile on the player’s face.
As is the case at most courses, playing the proper tee box is crucial to a fun round. Be honest with yourself and you will enjoy hitting wedge into the greens as opposed to a mid-iron.
It was absolutely an enjoyable round of golf and is a course I recommend to anyone in the area.
Another interesting feature of the course is a huge short-game practice center that is located on the back nine, boarded by three holes. Large bunkers guard a multi-tiered undulating green that is approachable from 100 yards.
A second, smaller green sits adjacent, allowing practice putting or chipping.
If you want a bite or something to drink, check out the Bunker Bar and Grill. I had an early tee time and had a chance to get one of their breakfast burritos that was sensational and filling enough to keep me content throughout the round.
For more information on the course, please go to www.golfmorrobay.com.
For more information on Morro Bay, please visit http://www.morrobay.org
By Dennis Miller