Monterey is more than Pebble Beach

Most golf nuts are always searching for that ultimate buddy trip. To play 12 rounds of golf in 5 days, visit the local establishments and enjoy the fruitful libation to the wee hours of the

Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Bandon Dunes, even Whistling Straits come to mind
for the golf junkie seeking such an excursion, but have you ever thought of
the Monterey peninsula in California?

The golf enthusiast virtually has no shot at playing Pine Valley or Augusta
National, but you can play Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Certainly the granddaddy of golf on the west coast, Pebble Beach has been
ranked in the top-10 in the United States for as long as I can remember...and
with good reason.

It has hosted five U.S. Opens, four U.S. Amateurs, a PGA Championship and a
yearly PGA Tour event since 1947. The views are sensational along the Pacific
Coast and when you can walk the fairways where the greats of the game
strolled, why not? Yes, it will cost an arm and a leg - a round will cost you
$495 - but you only live once.

However, Pebble Beach is just a small part of what the Monterey Peninsula has
to offer.

The ultra-exclusive Cypress Point Club is for the most part out of the
question, as you'll need to be hosted by a member. But how about Spyglass Hill
Golf Course?

Opened for play in 1966, Spyglass Hill was designed by legendary architect
Robert Trent Jones Sr. The holes are named after characters from the Robert
Louis Stevenson novel, "Treasure Island." Your approach shot on the opening
hole plays toward the ocean and doesn't leave the seaside until you head
inland on the uphill sixth. A true masterpiece, and Jones' highest rated
course in the U.S.

Poppy Hills Golf Course is another outstanding venue near the California
coast. Carved inland through the forests of Monterey, Poppy Hills is rated
4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest's Places to Play. It features undulating greens
that are guarded tightly by plenty of sand. The back-to-back, risk-reward par
fives on holes nine and 10 are quite enticing. For years, the course was part
of the AT&T Pro-Am rotation, and its current course conditioning is as good as
it gets.

Often overlooked is The Links at Spanish Bay. The trio of Robert Trent Jones
Jr., Tom Watson and former USGA president Sandy Tatum put their talents
together to create a Scottish-style layout along the coast. Rated as one of
the top-25 courses in the state, Spanish Bay is very reminiscent of the
wonderful layouts across the pond.

Monterey Peninsula Country Club boasts a pair of wonderful courses, the Shore
Course, which was added to the Pro-Am rota in 2010, and the Dunes layout. Both
courses boast a celebrated history, as the Dunes was designed by C.B.
Macdonald and Seth Raynor in 1925 and the Shore venue was crafted by Pebble
Beach co-designer Jack Neville and Robert Baldock, and then redesigned by the
late Mike Strantz. It's no wonder that the Shore Course is rated in the top-10
in California.

Designed in 1932, Pacific Grove Golf Club is another gem along the Pacific
Coast. Neville and H. Chandler Egan had their hands in this layout that
traverses through the trees for nine holes and then along the sand dunes by
the coast. Just drop a zero off the cost at Pebble Beach, and Pacific Grove
might be the best ticket in town.

Just a few minutes north of the peninsula are two courses that some consider
the best 36 holes in the Monterey region, the Bayonet and Black Horse layouts
at Fort Ord. Named after the Army's 7th Infantry, the Bayonet stretches over
7,100 yards and features tree-lined fairways. The Black Horse course honors
the 11th Cavalry Regiment that was stationed here for over 20 years. The
championship tees now possess a slope of 141 and a rating of 73.7, with views
of Monterey Bay.

Golf is just a smidgen of what the Monterey region has to offer. First and
foremost is the quaint town of Carmel, with its beautiful bed and breakfasts
that line the streets and the plentiful shops and restaurants. An artist's
haven, Carmel-by-the-Sea boasts some of the most charming galleries on the
west coast.

A must attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located in Pacific Grove. From
Pink Flamingos to Seahorses, Penguins and Otters, not to mention the giant
Pacific Octopus, the Aquarium is a great way to learn about our ocean friends.

A favorite activity of all visitors is the majestic ride through 17-Mile
Drive. This scenic road traverses through some of the most beautiful golf
courses in the country, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach among them, as you hug
the coastline. The lone Cypress, a symbol of California and the Pebble Beach
Company, stands tall as one of the most inspiring spots on the coast.

So boys (and girls), if you're tired of the same old, same old, then it's time
for a trip to the west coast and some of the best golf on the planet. Sure,
Pebble Beach receives all of the accolades, but the Monterey Peninsula is a
golfer's dream.