Quick: What’s the hardest course on the Monterey Peninsula?Pebble Beach?Prettiest, sure, but not the toughest. Spyglass Hill?Getting warmer. But for pure difficulty, the local standard has always been Bayonet, with its small, sloping greens and twisting, tree-lined fairways. And it just got tougher, thanks to a reworked front nine that is part of an ambitious plan to turn Bayonet and its sister eighteen, Black Horse, from cult classics into destination courses.Bayonet opened in 1954, but for decades it was hidden behind the barbed wire of Fort Ord and open only to the military. It was designed by an Army general named Robert McClure—with help from Ken Venturi, who was then a soldier stationed at the base. When Fort Ord closed in the 1990s, the city of Seaside assumed ownership of the two courses. A renovation of all thirty-six holes by architect Gene Bates is now under way, the centerpiece of a project that will eventually include a new Fairmont luxury hotel and spa.
Bayonet’s front nine was the first to be redone, opening in May to positive reviews. Its ragged old kikuyu and poa annua fairways have been replaced with carpets of bent grass, and the sequence of holes has been changed to make room for an entirely new ninth, a long uphill par four. Now the back nine of Black Horse is being worked on, to be followed by the remaining nine at each course. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2010.
Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses, 1 McClure Way, Seaside, California; 831-899-7271, bayonetblackhorse.com