With exceptional scenery and a year-round mild climate, a round of golf in Santa Cruz County is a sure shot. The region abounds with varied courses that take advantage of the striking landscape, from championship links with ocean vistas to welcoming fairways tucked amidst redwood forests. Plus, we’ve got options for disc golf enthusiasts, and mini-putt for the kiddos. Whatever your skill or style, here’s where to get rolling:
Pasatiempo Golf Club
Consistently ranked among the best courses in California, Pasatiempo is notable for its impeccably maintained, Alister MacKenzie-designed greens. The legendary golf architect who famously designed Augusta National once referred to Pasatiempo as his favorite course. Since 1929, it’s stood the test of time with a series of challenging holes that incorporate the natural landscape of canyons and panoramic views. The club is semi-private which means Pasatiempo welcomes both members and the public. Just don’t miss an exceptional meal at Hollins House where destination-worthy dinners are served in the historic hilltop home of the club’s late founder, Marion Hollins.
DeLaveaga Golf Course
This welcoming, 18-hole public course has a loyal following thanks to its convivial vibes and quiet, nature-engulfed greens. Lengthy fairways stretch throughout the scenic foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, notably absent any adjacent homes. You’ll enjoy solitude, peek-a-boo views of Monterey Bay, and the occasional wildlife spotting. Free putting and chipping greens, a two-tier driving range, and an upcoming, newly revamped bar & restaurant round out the enjoyable experience.
Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club
Less than 10 minutes from the towering, ancient trees of California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club offers players a mountain retreat with scenery for days. The par 65 executive course features a parkland setting with narrow fairways dotted with redwoods. Gear up at a full service pro shop, and clink post-round beers at the cozy bar & restaurant that dishes up happy hour specials. An adjacent conference and lodging make it a good option for group events.
Seascape Golf Club
Boasting the region’s closest setting to the shore, Seascape offers glimmering bay vistas from the 9th green and clubhouse. Spread over rolling hills, the 6,034-yard par 71 course is well regarded for its scenery, excellent conditioning, and top-notch customer service. If you find yourself in town without your clubs, swing by the pro shop where you can rent a set of Cobras for the day.
Tucked into the hilly, former ranchlands of Watsonville, this family-owned 18-hole course eschews formalities for fun, no-pretense play. The back nine features panoramic mountain vistas, while the entire course is dotted with water features including a 40-foot waterfall on the 18th hole. The pro shop and grill are housed in an early 20th century farmhouse, a remnant of the property’s former ranch.
Want to practice your short game? Pacific Golf Centers Driving Range in Watsonville is the perfect spot. Drop in and settle on one of 25 turf mats and try out the 1,500 square foot chipping green or 1,200 square foot putting green. Or tee up on real grass with accompanying manicured green and bunker. If you forgot your clubs or are new to the game, just borrow some free of charge.
Swap clubs for frisbees at one of the county’s two disc golf destinations. DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course draws players from around the globe. Designed by a Grand Master World Champion, the 29-hole course winds through the nature-filled hillsides of DeLaveaga Park and is diligently maintained by a local disc golf club. Plus, players are invited to join ball golfers on the adjacent DeLaveaga Golf Course each Wednesday and Sunday after 3 p.m. At Pinto Lake Park in Watsonville, an 18-hole course meanders through hilly terrain with fairways surrounded by native foliage, sweeping vistas, and the namesake lake.
If you prefer your golf with windmills and candy-colored balls, head to Buccaneer Bay at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Housed within Neptune’s Kingdom, a cavernous former natatorium, the pirate-themed course delights across two floors with elaborate, swashbuckling courses. Score a hole-in-one on the 18th hole, and win a free game!
Updated June 2020