Halfway between San Francisco and Silicon Valley lies the beach town of Half Moon Bay, about a 45 minute drive from San Francisco on 280 south. But if you’re not in a hurry, drive down the coast- hugging Highway One, with postcard views of the Pacific.
Lush vegetation and redwood trees thrive year round in the temperate northern California weather. A temperate climate means year round golf, the holy grail for golfers from northern climes, and some of the best golf in the Bay area can be found in Half Moon Bay.
Half Moon Bay Golf Links features two championship 18 hole courses, The Old Course and The Ocean Course. The clubhouse and pro shop for both courses is located at The Ritz Carlton. But bring your A game because there is no driving range to find it. A notable lack for a high-end property.
The Old Course, designed by Francis Duane and Arnold Palmer in 1973, and later redesigned by Arthur Hills in 1999, is a parkland-style course lined by cypress trees. Only holes 17, a 157 yard par three, and 18 border the ocean.
My favorite hole on the Old Course is the 384 yard par four 18th. Standing on the tee box overlooking the blue Pacific, a drive downhill that finds the center of the fairway will give you an uphill approach shot into a green surrounded by guests of the Ritz Carlton, enjoying the fire pits and ocean views.
Where to eat:
Resembling a Cape Cod cottage that’s been there forever, Sam’s Chowder House opened for business in the fall of 2006. Even though the breeze coming off the ocean is cool, the sunny back deck overlooking the Pacific is the perfect choice. Try their Cioppino, a fish stew created by Italian immigrants to San Francisco. Traditionally Dungeness crab, clams, squid, mussels, shrimp are all combined in a delicious tomato broth served with hearty sourdough bread.
Where to stay:
The Half Moon Bay Inn on Main Street is a pet friendly boutique hotel with 12 unique rooms, each styled with their own charm. At check-in, enjoy a glass of wine with the owners, two former flight attendants who know a thing or two about travel, and can give you plenty of tips for the Half Moon Bay area.
Tri-Valley is one of California’s premier golf and wine destinations. Located just 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, the Tri-Valley, California’s five-city region, is home to more than 10 private and public golf courses and 40 wineries. After a round, golfers can enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting, creative culinary fare, and family friendly activities. The mild climate and scenic landscapes make this an ideal destination for those seeking a true respite.
Tri-Valley takes its name from the three adjacent valleys that make up the region: Amador, Livermore, and San Ramon. The historic communities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville are all found here. The area has welcomed travellers since the California Gold Rush, when the region was the main route from San Francisco to the Sierra Foothills.
The legends of early California and the American West are all part of the history of Tri-Valley. Early Native American villages, Spanish mission culture, Spanish land-grant ranchos, the California Gold Rush, the transcontinental railroad, early movie production, World War II, and the nuclear age have all shaped the region. The early Wild West, with its ranching and farming have influenced today’s historic districts, and modern business centers.
The properties of Ravenswood and Forest Home Farms are open to the public for tours, allowing visitors to experience life as it was from the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Additionally, Forest Home Farms is now home to the City of San Ramon’s Saturday farmers markets.
One of California’s oldest wine regions, Livermore Valley showcases innovation and viticulture. Overhead irrigation, mechanical harvesting, and roller crushing were some of the innovations developed in Tri-Valley. The region played a pivotal role in shaping California’s wine industry, despite the crushing effects of Prohibition.
Wente Vineyards survived the hard times of prohibition by making sacramental wine for the Catholic Church. In 1936, Wente Vineyards was the first California winery to produce a wine labelled as Chardonnay. Today, many of the great Chardonnay vineyards in California are planted with the Wente Clone. And in 2013, Wente Vineyards, the oldest family owned winery in the United States, celebrated its 130th anniversary.
Livermore Valley’s contributions to the state’s enology and viticulture live on today. One of the last non-commercialized wine countries, Livermore Valley is home to 38 wineries. The warm days and cool nights of the valley create ideal conditions for producing the Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varietals the region is known for. Each year brings with it new winemakers who are working alongside fifth generation winegrowers to enrich the traditions and legacies of the region.
Many of the valley’s innovative wine makers are bridging the gap between the science and the art of crafting wine. Modern trellising, integrated pest management, and recycling are all a marrying of old and new.
The history of Livermore Valley Wine Country is celebrated every year at community events including the Livermore Valley Live Wine Auction & Dinner, Annual Harvest Wine Celebration, Livermore Valley Wine & Food Experience “A Taste of Terroir,” and Holidays in the Vineyards.
Tri-Valley’s ten public courses offer scenic views and challenging terrain for all levels of play.
First opened in 1999, The Bridges Golf Club is in San Ramon, 35 miles from San Francisco and five miles north of the 580-680 interchange. Graves and Pascuzzo are the course architects and Johnny Miller served as design consultant.
With a 144 slope from the back tees, bring your A game. Many holes are bordered on one side by restricted ecological areas and on the other side, slopes of heather and Scottish Broom. Sloped skinny fairways, forced carries and many elevation changes means you’re going to lose a few balls. Greens are seeded with rye grass and roll around 9 to 10 on the stimpmeter. For the average golfer, bogey will be a very good score. Members complained the course was too tough and in 2013, Bay Area golf architect Jay Blasi was brought in to enhance the playability of the course.
As one of the newest stops on the PGA Nationwide Tour, Tri-Valley is home to The Course at Wente Vineyards, designed by Greg Norman. Uniquely situated on a working vineyard estate, the Course features three distinct topographies – native woodlands, mature vineyard and rolling hills of natural grasslands and is certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
The LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge tees it up in Tri-Valley at the Blackhawk Country Club. Surrounded by acres of open space, detailed landscaping and luxurious homes, Blackhawk Country Club is a favorite among the tour players.
Poppy Ridge Golf Course, sister property to Pebble Beach’s famous Poppy Hills, is a challenging but fair test for golfers of all abilities. Designed by Rees Jones, Golf Digest’s Architect of the Year for 2005, this 27-hole course offers four sets of tees, top conditions, and panoramic views of the Livermore Valley Wine Country. Each hole is shaped by extensive bunkering, giving the course a links feel.
The newest course to open in Tri-Valley is the Callippe Preserve Golf Course. Golfweek has ranked the course among the Top 10 Public Golf Courses in California, and was additionally nominated for Golf Digest’s Best New Course for 2006. Situated on the hillside of the Pleasanton ridge lands, Callippe Preserve Golf Course provides exceptional views of Mount Diablo and the oak woodlands.