Royal Oaks, near Watsonville, has the Pajaro Valley Golf Club. Never heard of it?
This modestly priced course surprised us. Those who can look past some of the rough spots will discover that Pajaro Valley has some of the most interesting greens in Northern California.
We like the place because it is not your quintessential country club for a day. However, it does offer an essence of public golf at its best.
This par-72 course has three sets of tees, ranging from 5757 to 6664 yards, with a rating of 69.5, and a slope of 118 from the tips. Nine holes built in the 1920's blend well with another nine built in the 1950's. The fairway grass is brown. Pajaro Valley's minimalist design is devoid of that tricked-up mounding we find on so many modern courses. The course plays fast and firm, allowing players to run balls onto the greens, links style.
And, we cannot rave enough about the 100 percent poa annua greens, as maintained by superintendent Pete Galea. They're fast, true, and equal to those at quality country clubs. Shots that land above holes often lead to dreaded three-putts.