Golfing East to West
June 21 is known as the first day of summer, but in the northern hemisphere, its technical term is the summer solstice. Avid golfers recognize this as the day with the most amount of sunlight and thus the day that allows more time to delve into one’s outdoor passion.
For our purposes, we’re going to be a little whimsical and geographically expansive. We’re going to tell you how to play 18 holes of golf next to the Atlantic Ocean and then another 18 next to the Pacific Ocean – all in the same day.
Arrive at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach just south of St. Augustine, Fla. Since its opening in 2000, this course has appeared on all kinds of “Best of” lists, but perhaps is most well-known for being one of the last spots in Florida with holes bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Nicklaus fit six of them next to the Atlantic, which offers a fine contrast to the earlier holes that work their way through wetlands and sparkling lakes.
The final four holes include two demanding par-4s (holes 15 and 18), a control par-4 at No. 16 and a pretty par-3 17th. Called the Bear Claw, it’s some of the Golden Bear’s best work and makes the whole experience memorable because of both beauty and shot quality.
After a 30-minute drive up I-95 to St. Augustine Airport, we board the Learjet 60 for the flight to Monterey, Cali. The Learjet’s range is just over 2,400 nautical miles, which is about 300 more than the straight-line flight to the Pacific Ocean. This flight will eat up just over five hours in the air.
Thanks to a time-zone difference that adds three hours to our clock, we land in California with plenty of daylight left. After an 11-mile drive from the Monterey Airport, we arrive at the Black Horse and Bayonet courses in the small town of Seaside. We even have time for a quick lunch before heading to the first tee.
If it wasn’t located 15 minutes from Pebble Beach, this complex would have a national recognition as one of the country’s best two-course combinations. Northern California golfers have long recognized Bayonet as one of the unsung courses in the region. Used regularly for early-stage PGA Tour qualifying, Bayonet demands a sharp game – distance off the tee along with precise iron play into well-bunkered, fast, sloping greens.
But we won’t play that one. Instead, we’ll play the Black Horse course. Remodeled by Gene Bates, this course offers more panoramic views of Monterey Bay and the Pacific. It’s not as punishing as Bayonet, but it’s a rolling, fun, relaxing round. What’s more, it offers constant reminders – by way of glimpses of the water through the cypress trees – that this is the second ocean we’ve seen in one day.
In the grill, we look out at the horizon as the summer sun slowly drops behind the bank of fog that is so common this time of year. Upon review, we saw the sun rise over the Atlantic and get to watch it set over the Pacific, which is not uncommon. The difference is that, in between, we played two not overly demanding but beautiful courses on either coast of the contiguous United States. It is true that this feat was made possible courtesy of the Learjet, but hey, we said we were being whimsical.
It must be said that, few places can be so distinct and separated by such great distance, yet they still have so much in common. For allowing such experiences, the summer solstice truly is something to be celebrated.