FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Dana Point, Calif., St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach Course

Mar 1, 2008
2008 / March 2008

The St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach is the best venue in California’s Laguna area and the golf course adds great value to the hotel. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and opened in 1983, the golf course predates the hotel by nearly 20 years. Shortly after the hotel opened in 2001, the course underwent a $1.5-million upgrade that improved and repaired bunkers, greens and fairways and added longer tees to the holes, all while retaining its original character and outstanding vistas.

Since then the St. Regis, Monarch Beach course has hosted the 2001 and 2002 Hyundai Team Matches and has been listed among the “Top 50 Golf Courses” by Golf for Women magazine. The clubhouse staff is a friendly lot and they too have been ranked among the best — named one of the “Top 100 Golf Shops” by Golf Shop Operations magazine.

The resort itself, chosen as one of the “Top 100 Golf Resorts” in a 2005 Condé Nast Traveler readers’ poll, is truly luxurious. I stayed in a beautifully appointed suite with views of the first and second holes and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Along with its many amenities, the suite came with the services of a personal butler, Bill, who offered dinner suggestions and provided many other services such as pressing garments, shining shoes and delivering fresh coffee and biscotti in the morning.

My dinner options included the Monarch Bay Club, which is right on the beach and accessible via tram from the hotel, and the hotel’s Stonehill Tavern, designed by Tony Chi and supervised by Chef Michael Mina. And I ended my day on the course with a relaxing deep tissue massage at Spa Gaucin, provided by the wonderful massage therapist, Leigh.


Hole 2

(446 yards, par 4)

After coming off the first hole, a relatively easy par-4, this dogleg left presents challenges. There’s a pond on the right side and two bunkers on the left just where your drives might land. Off the tee box, you have two strategies: Aim your drive right-center or try to clip the corner over the traps. I nailed my drive over the traps for a clear shot to the elevated green. That’s where my success ended. On my next shot, I took too much club, hit the back of the green and my ball caromed out of bounds.

Hole 3

(315 yards, par 4)

Logic told me to lay up on this hole, but testosterone said to pull out the driver. I did, and I clobbered a drive to a landing area over the three traps on this downhill dogleg left. The beauty of this hole is the Pacific Ocean and beach, which runs the length of the fairway and can be seen from the tee box. To my chagrin, however, what looked like a perfect drive had just barely cleared the last trap and had plugged itself in the sloping grass. This made for a difficult and unsuccessful shot to the three-tiered green, which has a grass bunker behind it, adding to the challenge.

Hole 5

(217 yards, par 3)

The St. Regis Hotel stands in the foreground of this picturesque hole. A long par-3, you need to make sure you take enough club as the green is fiercely guarded by bunkers. There is also water to the right of the green, which can come into play on wayward shots. The green slopes left to right and deep pin placements can make putting difficult.

Hole 7

(612 yards, par 5)

This is the longest hole on the course and the No. 1-ranked handicap hole: truly beautiful and truly difficult. I can see now that I probably played it wrong. Although I had a near-perfect drive to the narrow fairway and then a perfect lay-up shot as my second, I should have crossed to the split fairway on my second shot rather than laying up. Native grasses separate this hole so that a second fairway lies to the left and so does the green. The smart play is to nail your second shot slightly left and land on the second fairway for your approach to the green.

Hole 11

(405 yards , par 4)

This hole is just 405 yards long, but length is added as the play is uphill making this one of the more challenging holes on the course. From the tee box, you need a very accurate drive, as there are bunkers to the left and right of the landing area. From here, you are left with a mid-iron to the green, which is elevated and sloped from back to front. A bunker guards the green front left, and shots over the green are to be avoided.

Hole 12

(542 yards, par 5)

There are more bunkers on this hole than you can shake a stick — or a club — at. Ten strategically placed bunkers come into play, and from the looks of my scorecard, they had an impact on my game. A really strong player can drive the ball toward the left bunker and then possibly make the green in two. Best to aim rightcenter so you have a clean second shot for your third shot to the green. This dogleg left will require a nearperfect shot to a two-tiered green guarded in front by a pot bunker.

Hole 13

(155 yards, par 3)

Although this is a short hole, its green is flanked by water across the front and around the right side and the back. The wind was gusting, which made club selection an issue. I over-hit the hole to the bunker on the back left, but at least I was saved from the water.

Hole 18

(400 yards, par 4)

From the tee box, you have an excellent view of the Pacific Ocean. There is a massive bunker on the left side and the hole is a dogleg left with a large pond on the right that partially fronts the green. Since the only thing working for me that day were my drives, I opted to try to clear the trap and cut the corner. I hit one of my best drives of the day and cleared the trap. Little did I know that the fairway was cut close and rolled toward the pond. When I was searching for my ball the group in front said it rolled into the water. Even with the penalty, I made a bogey, which was not too bad for the finishing hole.


St. Regis Resort , Monarch Beach
50 Monarch Beach Resort North
Dana Point, CA 92629
tel 949 240 3000
http://www.monarchbeachgolf.com

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