The rumors of a redesign for The Links at Spanish Bay have been swirling for years.
Today the changes became a reality: Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner have been tasked to completely redesign the course, which has always been kind of the third fiddle at Pebble Beach Resorts behind Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill. The magic touch of Hanse – arguably the hottest golf course architect on the planet (alongside Tom Doak) – should elevate the status of Spanish Bay.
“The Links at Spanish Bay possesses nearly every raw element you’d want in a golf course, from expansive ocean views to rolling, sandy terrain,” said Hanse. “With these natural attributes already in place, our team will have a significant head start on delivering a final product that will be in the top echelon of ‘must play’ courses.”
Hanse has designed high profile courses such as Castle Stuart Golf Links in Scotland, Ohoopee Match Club in Georgia, Pinehurst No. 4 in North Carolina, Streamsong Black in Florida, and The Olympic Golf Course in Brazil, along with restorations of The Country Club at Brookline in Massachusetts, Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course (site of the 2023 U.S. Open), Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania and the Lake Course at The Olympic Club, which is hosting a grand opening next week.
I’ve always thought of the Links of Spanish Bay as a solid course that was slightly off in its presentation. Opened in 1987 between the Inn at Spanish Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Spanish Bay was originally created by Sandy Tatum, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Watson. Although its descriptions say it offers a “Scotland-inspired golf experience”, the current course layout is hampered by too many demanding forced carries, some over-the-top greens and too much mounding to feel like a true links. The first couple of holes wander through the dunes before the routing climbs into the Del Monte Forest for some really tough holes before finishing back near the shore again.
Hanse and Wagner will no doubt improve the playing experience to make it more interesting and fun. The site is visually stunning, especially at dusk when a bag piper shows up to serenade the crowds that gather at the Inn for drinks.
This project is another in a long line of capital improvements made by the Pebble Beach Company in the last decade to keep up with Bandon Dunes. If Hanse hits a home run, it could put Pebble Beach back in the driver’s seat again as America’s premier golf resort.
Have you played The Links at Spanish Bay? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.