Set in the sunny foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains of Carmel Valley, Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre resort that offers a slew of great activities, not the least of which is its golf course, the only Pete Dye design in Northern California. The par-70 layout measures just over 6,100 yards, but don't be fooled by the lack of length; this gem is anything but easy. Dye integrated water features, unusual angles and doglegs to create a course that forces players to think their way around it. Besides being challenging, the course, which is rated more than 4 1/2 (out of five) stars on GolfPass, is also scenic with vistas of the whole surrounding valley and tremendous elevation changes. The course, which was renovated in 2006 by Gene Bates, boasts two signature holes, the par-4 11th and par-3 13th, which provide breathtaking drops into the valleys. The front nine holes meander along the Carmel River, while the back nine is heavily forested. Many of the holes wind through vineyards, lavender fields, ponds and oak groves. The no. 1 handicap hole on the course is the par-4 fourth, which features a lake on the left side that can come into play both off the tee and the approach. That same lake has to be carried on the next hole, the 151-yard, par-3 fifth. The course has a great finishing stretch as well, highlighted by the 226-yard, par-3 16th, and 444-yard, par-4 18th. Besides the golf course, Carmel Valley Ranch also has a driving range, short-game area, and practice putting green. Inside the clubhouse is a well-stocked golf shop as well as The Clubhouse Grill. Offering a diverse menu of breakfast staples, hearty soups, fresh salads, sandwiches, and old-school desserts, the setting is just as impressive with fire pits and great views of the course, resort, and surrounding hillsides.