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January 07, 2012

Thanks to an inspired makeover, Monterey's Black Horse is better than ever

Posted at 7:53 PM by Joe Passov | Categories: California

HorseBlack Horse Golf Course
Seaside, Calif.
7,024 yards, par 72
Green fees: $60-$145

Sibling rivalries stretch from Cain and Abel to Edoardo and Francesco (Molinari), and golf courses aren't exempt. The legacy of one course overshadowing its blood relative dates to 1895, when the New joined the Old at St. Andrews.

Similarly, Black Horse is the less celebrated of the two former Fort Ord Army base layouts overlooking Monterey Bay, 20 minutes north of Pebble Beach. Its elder, Bayonet, has long grabbed the glory here, having hosted multiple Nationwide and PGA Tour Q-School events as well as Hall-of-Famers such as Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson.

So hard and handsome is the 58-year-old Bayonet that locals dub it "the poor man's Spyglass." In most cases, the younger (by 10 years) Black Horse was an afterthought.

Not anymore.

In 2008, architect Gene Bates engineered a renovation on both courses that elevated Black Horse to near-equal status with its revered sibing. He cleared trees, in the process opening up Pacific Ocean views; he regraded fairways and greens and improved overall irrigation; and he redesigned bunkers, giving them distinctive, serrated edges.

Most striking is the brand-new, 224-yard par-3 15th. From the elevated tee the hole yields a stirring view of Monterey Bay, and if those brisk ocean breezes grab hold of your ball, five ravenous right-front bunkers await at the green. With a level of challenge that's equal to the tips at Bayonet, and more room to play than its tree-choked relative, it's well worth saddling up to Black Horse.

(Photo: Joann Dost)

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