Pasatiempo Golf Club is a relatively unknown gem throughout the country but well known as a must for Northern California golf enthusiasts. The course is in a famous Alistair McKenzie design and is probably the toughest 6,500 yards course that a low handicapper can ever play. The holes are so strong throughout that the course could be set up to be a very difficult test for anyone. The course was closed to outside play in April, 2023 following the Western Intercollegiate amateur event. The course is being renovated as all of the greens will be replaced with bent grass and all of the bunkers and short game areas will be upgraded. There is no other significant redesigns of the holes that are anticipated. The course was open to members only at the time of closure but after a short period, guests of member are allowed to play. The renovation is being conducted nine holes at a time so that the entire course is not impacted at one time. Players are now playing the back nine twice for a full round with two pin positions on the green–nine holes are played to one color and nine holes played to the remaining color. I have played Pasatiempo many times over many years, so I was able to play the course today. I have 3 hole in one’s on the iconic 18th hole as a guest. Today I was struck immediately by the quiet and pace of the few players playing the course. Normally the course is a beehive of activity and with public play starting at 10AM on weekends, the course does not have the feel of a private club along with the dilapidated state of the club’s facilities and infrastructure. However on the this quiet Friday, the golf course spoke loudly, the fairways are manicured without the bad behavior of unfilled divots and slow pace of play made you feel that you might be at Oakmont or even Pine Valley. It was quite enjoyable to see the majesty of this great golf course design assert itself. I was so impressed that I had to postulate that the club should reevaluate its status and become much more than a semi-private club.
I’m offering an unsolicited opinion of an “out of box” solution that I believe would launch Pasatiempo into the top 20 golf courses in the country after the renovation. I don’t have any detailed financial figures only considered guesses from my experience so the numbers I present here would need some “shine” to see if the solution makes any sense. Financially, members own the club with a current membership price of $200,000. Unlike other private clubs, the members do not pay annual fees usually $15,000-$20,000/yr. as revenue from public play covers the expenses of running the club so there are no assessments or ancillary fees. I would estimate that there are 20,000 public rounds per year and if this is close to correct, this would amount of $6 million in green fees and probably another $1 million in ancillary fees. If the public rounds were reduced to 10,000 public rounds revenue would be reduced to $3 million but I would increase green fees to $400 raising another $1 million in revenue. If every member added $50,000 to their investment in the club-the club would raise $20 million covering almost 7 years of the lost public revenue while improving the condition of the golf course and its ambience. I would also raise the new entry fee to the club to $250,000 to further cover the future costs of the club and provide some enhancements such as rebuilding the entire sad driving range facilities. Most public course driving ranges are better than Pasatiempo.
I’m sure these ideas will be viewed negatively by the members but if you want to brand Pasatiempo as a national treasure in the top 20, there is a roadmap to do it. The golf course speaks loudly as if McKenzie is actually asking for something special.
Rory McIlroy’s Castrophe at the Memorial in Round 1
Rory Mcilroy is one of the best players in the world. These days he is driving the golf ball to unreasonable length at over 310 yds off the tee. In Round 1 of the Memorial, he was steadily moving up the leader board playing with the leader, Jordan Speith and Tyrell Hatton. McIlroy actually squandered some of his prediogous drives with indifferent wedge play and some not so great putts. And then, he came to the 18th hole in second place and proceeded to hit a long drive that settled into one of the worst lies on the right side of the bunker. His stance between club and ball was about 15 degrees making any advance of the ball problematical. He managed to hit only about 20 yards in heavy rough and now had to focus on trying to make a bogey from 120 yards in heavy rough. He knocked the ball out of the rough into another patch of spinach above the hole at 18. He then knocked the ball out of that rough onto the green about 8 feet where he two putted for the magic snowman. It was hard to believe that a great round was destroyed with a bunch of errant shots occurring at the same time. He ended up in 18th place and 1 behind Hatton who made an easy par on the 18th hole. This hole could eventually cost McIlroy the tournament as his 68 (4 under in Round 2) has moved him to into a tie for 7th. (with a par on 18 in the first round-he’d be in second place. GOLF is HARD–even for the greats.