The Loop

Pasatiempo, a drought-battered Alister MacKenzie jewel, finally gets its water

May 10, 2016

Pasatiempo Golf Club by anyone’s measure is a jewel, an Alister MacKenzie design just up the coast from the Monterey Peninsula and 21st in Golf Digest’s latest ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.

Yet it did not resemble a jewel in the summer of 2014 and beyond, in the midst of a lengthy and destructive drought in California.

“I’ve got to actually use the word ‘horrific,’ as it turns out, unfortunately,” Pasatiempo general manager Scott Hoyt said on Tuesday. Last year, the city of Santa Cruz had cut its water allotment by 50 percent. “We went out, myself, the superintendent, the golf pro, and literally drove around the course and started turning [sprinkler] heads off.

“In August and September, we could only water tees, greens and approaches. We lost all the fairways. We took a million-dollar hit by cutting us off 50 percent for one season. Firm, fast, brown and dead doesn’t work.”

And while this was going on, much longer, in fact — “conversations have been going on for 30 years,” Hoyt said — Pasatiempo was in negotiations to buy recycled water that the town of Scotts Valley was sending straight past the golf course and into the Pacific Ocean.


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Scotts Valley had recycled water, but no customers. Pasatiempo had a need for water and a checkbook. Yet government bureaucracy, as it is wont to do, prolonged the process.

“Sounds pretty simple on paper and in conversation,” Hoyt said. “But you have the two cities involved, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. You’ve got the county involved, you have water districts involved, and then you have Pasatiempo involved and you have California involved. The state has to approve the recycled water we want to use because of proximity to homes [adjacent to the golf course].”

Last week, the pieces to the puzzle finally fell into place, and Pasatiempo entered into a 30-year agreement to purchase recycled water from Scotts Valley.

“No more concerns,” Hoyt said. “We’re in full control for the next 30 years. We can take water out of the equation.”

A week from today, the course will break ground for a storage tank and a pumping and filtration station, a project that will take a year to complete. In the meantime, El Nino storms provided ample rain over the winter, so that Santa Cruz again is providing Pasatiempo a 100 percent allotment.

And a jewel that had lost its polish again is shining.