Pasatiempo - The Must Play Public Access MacKenzie Design PDF Print E-mail


Story and images by Jason Bruno

Located in Santa Cruz, California - Pasatiempo was high on our list of

absolute must play experiences on our 17 day golf odyssey across the

Golden State this past summer. Perfect weather was on tap for the day

at Dr. Alister MacKenzie's must play public access gem. If you're not at

all familiar with Dr.MacKenzie and his work (that's highly unlikely), just

think Augusta, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne. Pasatiempo,

although lesser known to the recreational golfer, is every bit as worthy.

Allowing several tee times to public play each day (Pasa is a semi-private

club), should place it at the top of your list.







Pasatiempo opened in September of 1929 to a foursome that included

Bobby Jones. The great Marion Hollins was an essential partner to

MacKenzie in the design (just as she was at Cypress Point). Nearly

seventy years after its inception, the course underwent a lengthy

restoration over several years by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina.  In 2007,

the work was completed and "Pasa" as it's known to so many, was

back to being a proper "Golden Age" classic. One of the true jewels

in American golf was once again held in the highest regard.





Course Architect extraordinaire Jay Blasi, "Turf Yoda" Josh Lewis and the

pride of (New South Wales) Sydney, Australia - Dean Lenertz joined yours

truly on a crystal clear California afternoon. After a casual lunch in the

clubhouse with Pasatiempo's superb Superintendent Justin Mandon,

we headed to the tee at the 457 yard opening hole (sans warm up).








I won't detail every hole, but here at the first you can clearly see the

approach favors coming in from the right side of the fairway. Be aware,

if you make it out to Pasatiempo, this green has a much greater right

to left/back to front tilt than this image projects. Like most golden age

designs, rarely does being short on the proper side cost you. Recoveries

are do-able if you think your way around the "Good Doctor's" home ballpark.







The slightly downhill approach at the 437 yard dogleg right second hole.








The view from greenside - notice the bold right to left tilt, and fall offs

that combine to make giant green surfaces like this one play much

smaller than they appear.









The stunning par 3 third is the first assault on your senses on the

property, and at 214 yards it plays longer due to being significantly

uphill. The tee is ingeniously cut up against the hillside, take an extra

bat and hit a gentle fade to land it softly into this brutal beauty. Alister

MacKenzie's brilliant bunkering guards one the most beautiful inland

one-shotters in existence. Par is a superb score here.










Not unique to Central California, this Santa Cruz property tilts and flows

in every direction throughout the routing. The 378 yard fourth is rarely

mentioned but deserves attention. With ample width, it's a true second

shot golf hole but hitting the fairway is imperative, especially when the

pin is tucked far right (see below).










If you manage to hit your approach here at the fourth pin high, you'll

be rewarded with a very make-able putt. Note the sharp detailing

around the bunker edges.










The green complex here on the 190 yard par 3 fifth is unlike many

you'll see or encounter anywhere. Designers today would likely be

persecuted for creating a twisty "winding road" shaped surface. That

back left pin location brings the center bunker into play.









The tee shot here on the sixth goes up through a chute of foliage and in

the direction of the game's most celebrated course designer's home in








This plaque, an ode to MacKenzie is on the path beside his house on

the sixth.










The approach to the sixth green.










One of the few confined tee shots on the property is defined by

majestic Cypress at the 347 yard seventh.









The green here at the seventh is a slightly elevated saddle.











MacKenzie was extraordinary in his creation of short golf holes, the

collection at Pasa belongs in the discussion of the finest anywhere. The

downhill 176 yard eighth shown here features a magnificent green complex

that requires not only the correct club, but also the proper trajectory/spin.

When the pin is located on the back shelf, anything short of the ridge will

spin and roll all the way down the slope. A green in regulation here means

that your work has just begun.









The eighth played down and the semi-reachable 492 yard par 5 ninth

plays back up the hill towards the clubhouse.










The tee at the 437 yard tenth, one of the truly memorable inland par 4's

in all of golf.









The downhill approach to the tenth is among the finest exams on

the course. Width and angles are the story here at Pasa, knowing

the hole location allows for setting up the proper approach, especially

to shallow and well guarded targets like the one here on the tenth.

Avoid the deep bunkering on the left at all costs. Another wicked

green that features backboards, sideboards and an inviting front

right section that includes a false front and back bunker. It's simply

a design marvel.











The par 4 eleventh is well known for its bisected "S" shape design that

features a ravine and pedestrian bridge that transports the golfer to a

second fairway and a tucked-in green complex. The closer your drive is

to the hazard, the better the angle and shorter the approach.











The slightly downhill 532 yard par 5 thirteenth plays a bit shorter than

its measurement on the scorecard. Culminating at this massive complex

that's surrounded by a myriad of sand, this is the final par 5 on the par

70 design. As you head to the par 4 fourteenth, be keenly aware that

you're about to encounter one the truly extraordinary finishing stretches

in golf.







The view from the 426 yard fourteenth seems innocent enough, but

anything left could pose problems. . .






This view looking back towards the tee shows the gully that runs along

the left edge of the fairway leaving some tough uneven lies and stances

for the approach. This is just another example of the variety of land forms

you encounter at Pasatiempo.







The right side of the fairway brings sand into play, including this cross

bunker that Mackenzie used as more of a visual element of deception

rather than a strategic challenge.








The 142 yard 15th is the shortest hole at Pasatiempo and with the hole

positioned in the front as it was during our visit, it's no more than a wedge.

Although this "shorty" rarely gets mentioned in the pantheon of great short

holes, we put it in that category and certainly among our favorites in the

Golden State along with 7 at Pebble, 15 at Cypress, 17 at Santa Ana and

16 at California Golf Club. Like those holes, this lil gem will potently sting

you if you stray in distance or direction.







A really cool view of the 15th is this one while taking the short stroll

from tee to green. Pure rustic beauty.









The magnificent 392 yard sixteenth begins with a semi-blind uphill tee

shot that must be played accurately over the peak to have a good look

at what awaits . . .









There are several thrilling approach shots at Pasa, but none quite

like this one that plays from a downhill position to a massive surface

that tilts back up towards the player. Jay Blasi flushed the ideal draw

into this left hole location, easily the finest shot of the entire California

journey, nearly jarring it, kick-in birdie.








This overhead view of the sixteenth green shows how well purposed and

designed the land on this parcel of the property is. Situated between the

boundary road left and the ravine on the right. The green is a remarkable

design that tilts severely back to front. Notice the false front that dangles

its "tongue" steeply downward - repelling any misplayed approach shot.

(photo courtesy of Pasatiempo Golf Club)








Playing Pasatiempo means that you don't want the day to end, but it

concludes in grand style here at this euphoric amphitheater setting. At

dusk is absolutely the perfect way to experience this 173 yard beauty.

The target is vast, so take dead aim, but be mindful of the pin position.

The front right features a wide landing area but a steep false front, while

the back left narrows up quite a bit allowing for the perfect Sunday sucker

pin. Center of the green is never a bad play here, anything below the hole

will leave an aggressive uphill attempt to convert.







SUMMARY - Course/Club experience:

The club at Pasatiempo has a classic vibe and pays homage to its golden

age heritage, all while keeping a very casual atmosphere. At 6495 yards

from the tips the course is all you want. It challenges the accomplished

player, it inspires shotmaking and showcases the great master's design

prowess at the height of his powers. Kudos to Ken Woods for hosting us,

and to Justin Mandon and his Agronomy team for their fine work in

presenting one the fabulous gems in American golf design in fine form.

A rare MacKenzie classic that's open to the public makes Pasatiempo an






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