HALF MOON BAY (OLD)
This 36-hole beauty sits atop bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Half Moon's Ocean course is a personal fave, but sister course the Old not so much. Tom Doak once called the Old's first 17 holes "mostly Hamburger Helper," but the 18th is a jaw-dropper—a 413-yard par-4 that slopes downhill toward a wetland that bisects the fairway and ends at a green cocooned by the stunning Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Lining the entire right side of the hole is the gigantic water hazard known as the Pacific.
For most of its 80 years the California Golf Club of San Francisco played third fiddle to Olympic and San Francisco. No more. Following a Kyle Phillips redo that was part restoration and part redesign, the A. Vernon Macan--Alister MacKenzie course is an equal.
It's a bit shocking, really, to stroll the mean streets of Oakland and stumble upon Claremont Country Club. (O.K., the neighborhood isn't all that bad nowadays, but nobody expects great golf in this kind of urban setting.)