U.S. Hickory Open Course

About Del Monte Golf Course

Only a few visitors to Hotel Del Monte in 1897 would have heard about, much less played, the newest craze in sports sweeping America: the game of golf.  Golf was introduced to California a few years earlier in 1892 when a recent English immigrant, Charles E. Maud, laid out the Pedley Farms Golf Course (later to become known as Victoria Golf Club) in Riverside, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Interest in golf grew rapidly and the 1890s saw many new golf courses being built. By 1900 there were nearly a hundred golf courses in California.

In the Bay area, the Burlingame Golf Club (still in existence today) was the first to organize in 1893. It was followed by the Presidio Golf Course in 1895. The Hotel Del Monte Golf Links came soon after in 1897. The nine-hole course measured 2219 yards. At the time, Hotel Del Monte was a popular destination resort for the “smart set” and included a polo field and a race track. 

Charles E. Maud

While there is no definitive record that Charles Maud designed the Del Monte course, he is generally acknowledged as its architect. The original nine holes, like so many of the early California courses, started out with sand greens, which were soon replaced by grass.  Maud himself was an accomplished golfer as well as an excellent polo player, and would often make trips to Del Monte to participate in polo matches. 

The Del Monte links, in its early years, was the venue of choice for major tournaments in California. In addition to the annual Del Monte Cup, started in 1899 (and won by Maud), the first North/South tournament between Northern and Southern California was contested that same year.  Led by Maud, the South won the inaugural event 14-4. 

In spring of 1901, former U.S. Open champions gave a gold exhibition at Del Monte. They included Horace Rawlins (1895 champion), Willie Smith (1899 champion), as well as David Bell who finished third behind Harry Vardon and J. H. Taylor in the 1900 Open. Later that year, Del Monte hosted the inaugural amateur and open championships of the newly formed Pacific Coast Golf Association, comprising clubs from California, Oregon, and Washington. Some regard this open championship as the first California State Open, won by Scotsman Robert Johnstone, club professional at Presidio, with a score of 148 for 36 holes.  

The course was expanded in 1903, becoming the first golf course in California to boast 18 holes.  In 1920 the course underwent a major renovation under the direction of William Herbert Fowler, a British golf architect. Fowler’s redesign is substantially what we see today.

Today, only two of California’s earliest golf courses remain in operation: Del Monte Golf Course and the course at the Presidio in San Francisco, built in 1896.

Del Monte also hosted the 1916 Western Amateur Championship, the first time that event was ever played west of the Continental Divide.

Del Monte continues to annually host championship golf, including the Monterey Open and the Monterey City Amateur, the latter of which began at Del Monte in 1972. The course has regularly tested PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour players as a previous host of the Pebble Beach Invitational and First Tee Open.

The Del Monte Golf Course website provides a nice overview, scorecard and history.

-- Martin Pool, a member of the 2017 USHO organizing committee.