Story and Photos
By Brian Lichterman | Sports Editor
Somewhere between mini golf and the PGA tour sit executive golf courses. They’re typically full of challenging, although short par-3s with the occasional par-4.
The golf course at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach adjacent to the Back Bay is something different all together. If you only have 40 minutes to spare and $12 in your pocket, this “pitch and putt” golf course could be just the thing for you. With some beautiful views of the bay and a beginner’s environment, the nine-hole course comprising par-3s sits just to the side of the hotel and is completely open to the public.
Your round of golf here will be pretty light, as well, since most golfers will only need to bring a sand wedge, lob wedge, and a putter. Unless your short game is completely out of control, a single sleeve of golf balls should do the trick, as it’s pretty tough to lose many balls on such a short course. The tee boxes are plastic mats, so you don’t even need to bring tees. Just a divot repair tool and a ball marker should be all the equipment you’ll need to carry.
The first hole of the course is a quick, uphill 65-yard hole with a large bunker in front of its green, which runs perpendicular to the tee box. This can be a challenge because you want to get up and over the trap, but also hit a soft enough shot that your ball will stop and not run off the green. Try a nice, smooth flop shot with a lob wedge, and you should be able to 2-putt for your par.
The second hole has a sand volleyball court just to the left of the tee box and farther ahead on the left is a small, makeshift practice net with three stalls from which to hit. It sets up the same way as the first hole, so repeat your shot and sink your putt for a likely par.
The third hole goes back down the hill to the clubhouse from whence you came, and places your tee shot on a tricky, down-sloping green. Not to mention the gigantic palm tree that sits just short and right of the green that snatches balls out of the air at will.
Should you avoid the tree and escape with a par, the next hole will provide some relief.
The fourth hole is just a straight up, short par-3 that only totals 50 yards. It runs along the tennis courts, and nothing more than a simple chip should get you on its green.
The fifth hole is the toughest on the course so far, as it’s uphill and onto a blind green. The shot isn’t difficult, but not being able to see the landing will make some golfers nervous. Another one of those high, soft-landing flop shots should put you in good position no matter where they placed the flagstick.
From this green, there are beautiful views of upper Back Bay, so if there’s nobody on the tee behind you (and most likely there won’t be) take in the sights.
The sixth hole is at the top of the hill at the course’s highest point. There are no bunkers on this hole and plenty of things to look at from the tee box besides the views. Your tee shot is taking dead aim at some of the hotel rooms and patios that line the course, so catch your ball thin on this 70-yard hole, and you might have to retrieve it out of somebody’s bloody mary.
The seventh is not much to glorify. It’s just a 65-yard hole that takes a 75 percent swing with a lob wedge to get on the dance floor. Anything above par here and you should think about spending some time practicing on your home course’s chipping area.
The final holes are the course’s best shot at legitimate golf.
The eighth hole is down a steep grade to a large green that looks open for the taking, but put too much on your shot, and you’ll be chipping back and 2-putting for a bogey. This tee box also has the best view on the course since you’re looking back at PCH and can see almost all of the Back Bay and the Dunes.
Moving onto the last hole, the ninth is the only one on the course that I could truly see many people bogeying. It’s only 100 yards, but the difficulty isn’t in the distance, it’s the fact that the landscape forces you to hit a dead-straight shot. Palm trees and bushes line the tee box all the way to the green, so anything in the realm of a “cut” or “hook” will be slapped down immediately by the foliage. Personally, I hit a full-swing with my lob wedge which seemed to be the right amount of club as I was just about pin-high. Hit it straight and you’ll escape with a par.
So that’s it, 645 yards of golf course in 40 minutes.
“Not many people know it’s open to the public,” club house attendant Nathan Mamo said. “Hotel guests play sometimes, and we have tons of regulars I see all the time.”
So if you feel like spending $1.33 per hole to play a little golf, check out the course at the Newport Beach Hyatt on Jamboree.