Set Course for Carmel-by-the-Sea

Pebble Beach Golf Links (Image: Pebble Beach Golf Links)

Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted six U.S Opens. (Image: Pebble Beach Golf Links)

Renowned for its beauty and sophisticated yet quirky charm, Carmel-by-the-Sea is the ideal jumping off point for Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and the other standout courses on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

(Last updated February 2023.)

Even now, almost four decades after his wildly publicized reign as the town’s mayor, Clint Eastwood remains a towering figure in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Clint Eastwood Mayor button

Clint Eastwood served as Carmel’s mayor from 1986 to 1988.

Tourists fantasize about bumping into him at his restaurant at Mission Ranch, the Hollywood icon’s property just outside of town, and look for him as they explore the tony streets and hidden courtyards of this unendingly charming coastal community on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

Or maybe—if they can afford the price of admission— they’ll find Eastwood teeing it up at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the fabled course he owns in partnership with the estate of Arnold Palmer and former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

Pebble Beach is the undisputed golf headliner of a famously seductive peninsula two hours south of San Francisco that includes the communities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, Seaside and Pebble Beach.

Host of six U.S. Opens, Pebble Beach charges a primetime green fee of $595, one of the most expensive in the game. But the good news is that golfers don’t have to break the bank to enjoy memorable golf on the Monterey Peninsula.

Pebble Beach’s strong sister courses, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Links at Spanish Bay, offer spectacular ocean views at more palatable prices.

Carmel-by-the-Sea street view (Image: Carmel-by-the-Sea)

Carmel’s downtown is packed with hidden courtyards and quirky passageways. (Image: Carmel-by-the-Sea)

Another local beauty is Del Monte Golf Course, opened in 1897 and the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi. Poppy Hills Golf Club and Quail Lodge Golf Course are also highly regarded designs.

And a special favourite of knowledgeable golfers is Pacific Grove Golf Links, an affordable oceanfront beauty known as the “other Pebble.”

Between rounds, head back to Carmel to explore a coastal town packed with upscale restaurants, hidden courtyards, quirky passageways, art galleries, and cozy inns.

One of the most popular places to stay is Cypress Inn, which was co-owned by another Hollywood legend and local resident, Doris Day. The hit recordings of the late singer-actress are piped into the 44 sunny rooms of the 1929 local landmark.

Carmel’s small downtown is an architectural mix of English-style country houses, Swiss chalets and, most notably, the 21 whimsical cottages built by local architect Hugh Comstock starting in the 1920s. Eastwood, who was elected for a two-year term in 1986 on a pro-progress platform, dismissed these Comstock Cottages as “Smurf homes.”

Once a bohemian refuge for artists such as writer Jack London and photographers Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, Carmel now numbers among the most exclusive addresses in California. Real estate prices soar ever higher on the approach to Carmel Bay, where the sea ebbs and crashes against a long white-sand beach.

Glimpsed at cliff-top across the bay are the emerald fairways of Pebble Beach, for golfers the most alluring of all the wonders on the Monterey Peninsula.