Q: We are two Aussie golfers traveling to the Monterey Peninsula for a few days. Do you have any thoughts on how we can play Cypress Point Golf Club? -- Daryl B., Australia
A: We know a lot of the secrets to getting on some of the best private golf courses in the world, but playing Cypress Point Golf Club is an extremely tough nut to crack. The club has a small membership (200-250) and even if you know a member, there is a relatively little amount of unaccompanied guest play allowed.
As we have written before: "Unless you know a member who is willing to take you out or write a letter on your behalf, any effort to get on this Alister MacKenzie-designed shrine is often a complete waste of time, something to be avoided on a precious Pebble Beach Golf Vacation."
We called the Cypress Point Golf Club pro shop to see if there is any wiggle room, but we were told, "There are no variations to the policy." Sorry.
Having said that, where there is a will, there is usually a way.
For instance, like us, reader Steven P. has heard the rumor that writing a letter to the head professional can sometimes be your "in" to playing Cypress Point.
A very credible source recently confirmed that this is possible, but it's not highly probable. Frankly, your chances are much better if you work your connections.
I said earlier that, "Unless you know a member...", but you really just need a "connection" to a member, and given all the social networking options these days, (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) it's conceivable that you know someone, who knows someone, who knows a member. As long as you can get them to sponsor you, you're in.
And let me further correct myself about this. Your connection doesn't necessarily have to be to a member at all.
Employees of Cypress Point Golf Club -- everyone from the cooks in the kitchen to the pros in the shop -- are allowed to bring guests to play the course. They're limited to one guest per month if I'm not mistaken.
Another potential way to play Cypress Point is to join one of the 15 Alister MacKenzie-designed golf courses that belong to the USA's Alister MacKenzie Society (there's a separate organization for the UK and Ireland). In addition to Cypress Point, these clubs include:
Meadow Club (California)
Valley Club (California)
Green Hills (California)
Crystal Downs (Michigan)
Alwoodley, Moortown (England)
Royal Melbourne (Australia)
Titirangi (New Zealand)
The Jockey Club (Argentina)
St Charles (Canada)
See, each year, these clubs send eight-man teams play in the society's "MacKenzie Cup" tournament, which rotates between the above courses...including Cypress Point.
So, "all" you have to do is join one of these clubs and play your way on to the MacKenzie Cup team the year it's held at Cypress Point.
A word of warning, however, from reader Walter L., who belongs to Green Hills: "The last time there was a qualifier to represent our club to play Cypress Point, 100+ members vied for the 4 available spots!"
These are by no means the only ways to access Cypress Point Golf Club.
Now, if you can't find a way to play Cypress Point Golf Club, here are couple consolation prizes worth considering. First, we'd highly recommend adding Pasatiempo Golf Course (located between Pebble Beach and San Francisco) to your Pebble Beach golf vacation lineup. Like Cypress Point, this is an Alister MacKenzie classic, and it was recently restored to its original glory.
Second, given that you are from Australia, you might want to make your way to New Zealand and play the Cape Kidnappers golf course. While the similarities are relatively few between it and the Cypress Point golf course, both sit high above the Pacific Ocean and you can't help but notice the striking similarity between the 16th tee box at Cypress Point and the 16th tee box at Cape Kidnappers, both of which are perched above the crashing waves.
Interestingly, just as (1921 Women's Amateur champion) Marion Hollins had a big influence on Alister MacKenzie's design at Cypress Point (and Pasatiempo), Josie Robertson had her hand in Tom Doak's design at Cape Kidnappers. More importantly, given that Josie and her husband, Julian (who own Cape Kidnappers), are members at Cypress Point Golf Club, it's not unreasonable to assume that the design of the Cypress Point golf course had at least some influence on the design of Cape Kidnappers.