Today we have a guest post from my husband, Michiyo (Mike) Montague. He is an avid golfer and plays every course he can find. I asked him to write about his top 3 courses played during our recent world travels. Enjoy!
During my 30 years in the Army, I played courses around the world in nearly every country I visited. There were many beautiful, challenging, and memorable courses. But my wife tasked me to talk about my top 3 golf courses played during “our” trip. It was tough to narrow it down to just three, but here we go!
I will start from my 3rd favorite and work my way up. I believe all are must-play courses.
#3 Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course (Kaneohe, Hawaii)
My third favorite course was the Kaneohe Klipper at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. After flying Space-A to Hawaii, we stayed at the Hale Koa Hotel, a military resort on Waikiki Beach. It’s a 40-minute drive to the Kaneohe Klipper course but well worth the trip.
The front nine offers beautiful views of the mountains near Marine Corps Base Hawaii, while the back nine offers spectacular coastline views that make this course famous around the world.
The signature hole is #13, a par 4, 471 yards (from the tips), that hugs the coastline on the right and danger on the left. The wind is usually strong, which makes it tough to reach the green in 2 on a windy day.
But I believe the biggest obstacle is the spectacular view. This hole has been voted the top hole of all military courses and rightly so. The rolling waves crashing into the shore, the white froth on the curling waves, the warm winds, the beautiful sand, green fairway, and the blue sky all serve to distract you as you try to hit decent shots.
At times the play is a little slow. Just get some beers, a cigar, and the local favorite snack called spam musubi, and enjoy the gorgeous views.
#2: Pacific Grove Golf Links (Pacific Grove, California)
The second best course on my list is probably a surprise. With all the great golf courses out there, why would I choose a small muni? Once you arrive and see the spectacular views, low green fees, and well-maintained course, you will know.
While in Monterey, California we stayed at one of our favorite space-A lodging facilities, the Navy Gateway Inn & Suites (NGIS) at the Navy Postgraduate School. Just a 15-minute drive from NGIS you will find Pacific Grove Golf Links, or what many dub “the poor man’s Pebble Beach.”
The most outstanding quality of this course is that some of the back 9 holes are on the same coastline as Pebble Beach, less than an hour’s drive away. Fortunately, a round at Pacific Grove is a fraction of the cost of Pebble Beach. The views are spectacular, and it is fun trying to play the wind, just as the pros have been doing at historic Pebble Beach for many years.
The signature hole is the 16th hole, 355 yards from the tips. This has always been the most picturesque hole because you may also see migratory birds from the tees. The hole plays downhill to the ocean, and at the bottom is Crespi Pond, a freshwater pond right across the street from the ocean. It’s just beautiful.
As a bonus, while you’re in the Monterey area, play the courses at old Fort Ord. The base is now closed, but the two courses, Bayonet and Blackhorse, have been updated and used in both PGA and LPGA tourneys. These are absolutely beautiful courses that still honor the military and offer great discounts to active duty and retirees.
#1: Omaha Beach Golf Club (Normandy, France)
Although we had virtually no advance itinerary for travels, one of the few plans we made was to go to Normandy, France. It had always been my dream to visit Normandy and see — up close and personal — the greatest battlegrounds fought in our military. The WWII memorials and historic battlefields were a sight to behold. It was not until we arrived that I learned there was a golf course; and not just any course.
The course at Omaha Beach Golf Club is set on some of the most historic and hallowed grounds in American and French military history. On the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach, you can still see gun emplacements and other famous landing beaches, such as Sword and Juno, from some of the holes.
Each hole is dedicated to a WWII hero, and each step you take is like taking a step back in time. Seeing the contours of the land and the beautiful French coastline and countryside all take you to a place in June 1945.
As an Army brat and a veteran of 30 years in the Army, I can say that playing this course was truly an honor and the top course I played during our travels. On La Mer course, the signature hole is the 6th. It’s a dogleg with the green on the cliff edge, giving spectacular views over Mulberry Harbor and the D-day landing beaches. What a view! Bring your camera and map book so you know exactly what you are looking at. Spectacular!
I hope you have a chance to play some or all of these courses! Hit ’em long and straight!