Water, hills and sand make Black Gold Golf Club in Yorba Linda, Calif., a formidable test. (Mike Bailey/GolfAdvisor) The 159-yard 12th on the Ocean South Course at Pelican Hill Golf Club is the first of back-to-back oceanfront par 3s.  (Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor) By the time you get to the par-4 third hole at Monarch Beach Golf Links, the Pacific is in clear view. (Mike Bailey/GolfAdvisor)

Playing golf around Mickey: Five good tests in Orange County, California

If you're taking the family to Disneyland or planning a business trip to the Anaheim Convention Center, don't forget your sticks. Golf, as you might expect, is plentiful in southern California.

Even better, a few courses offer ocean views. But even the ones that don't have some pretty nice vistas. Here's a list of five courses you should consider if you're venturing in Mickey's backyard.

Black Gold Golf Club

If you like risk reward with plenty of elevated tees and great views, then you'll love Black Gold Golf Club. Located in Yorba Linda, former home of President Nixon and current home of the Nixon Library, Black Gold is one of architect Arthur Hills better designs.

Off the tee, the course is fairly generous, but the approach shots can be daunting, forcing golfers to miss on the correct side or face the consequences. Throughout, however, the course is in excellent shape with terrific greens.

It features several scenic holes, including the closing one -- a 535-yard par 5 that features an uphill tee shot and an approach to a wide green fronted by water.

Pelican Hill Golf Club

One of the premier resorts in southern California offers 54 holes of fantastic golf, much of it perched above the ocean. Two of the three courses -- the North and the South -- are located right on the ocean and are must-plays if you can afford the hefty green fees.

Designed by Tom Fazio, they take advantage of ocean views at every opportunity, putting this Newport Beach setting on par with the likes of Torrey Pines to the south.

Both courses have received makeovers in recent years, with Pelican Hill's South Course perhaps receiving the most benefit, offering better views than before.

San Juan Hills Golf Club

Located in San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Hills Golf Club is one of those courses that doesn't appear outwardly difficult until you play it.

Especially challenging are the sloped greens that make taking the right club of utmost importance. Get above the hole on some of the greens, and stopping the ball is next to impossible.

One of the unique aspects of the course is that it ends with a par 3, where there's a live camera on the green. Afterwards, check out the cool sports bar in the clubhouse, where you see golfers finish their round on one of the TV monitors.

Monarch Beach Golf Links

Another course with striking views of the ocean and impeccable conditions is Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point.

This Robert Trent Jones Jr. design -- which hosted the 2001 Hyundai Team Championships -- is a par-70, 6,601-yard course laid out over gently rolling dunes. Even as you move away from the ocean, there are still Pacific views due to the rising nature of the course.

The signature hole is arguably the third, a short, downhill par 4 that ends on the edge of a bluff overlooking the Pacific. But there are plenty of inland holes with water features, deep bunkers, tight fairways and small, undulating greens that give the club plenty of character.

Talega Golf Club

Set above the "Spanish Village by the Sea," Talega Golf Club is laid out on a picturesque piece of land, just three miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Always in excellent condition, every hole is easy on the eye, even if it isn't easy on the scorecard on this wonderfully fun Fred Couples/Brian Curley collaboration. At 6,951 yards, this par has plenty of water and some difficult par 5s and par 3s.

In fact, the course has five of each, including a stretch of three par 3s between holes 5-8. An added bonus is a large Spanish-style clubhouse where guests can enjoy a variety of lunch and dinner items at the Signature Grille while taking in golf course views on its large patio.

Feb 12, 2014

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Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.