1700 17 Mile Drive,
California (CA) 93953,
- +1 800 654 9300
3 miles NW of Carmel
Welcome book in advance
Cypress Point is the course you can’t play at Pebble Beach, but thankfully Pebble Beach Golf Links is one you can. “If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play at Pebble Beach. I loved this course from the first time I saw it. It’s possibly the best in the world.” Jack Nicklaus knows a good course when he sees one, who would argue with him?
|Dating back to the 1930s and originally known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – as it is now called – is a 72-hole PGA Tour event which is typically held on three Californian, Monterey Peninsula courses. Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills have all been among the trio of host courses. The cut is made after Saturday’s play and the 60 leading pros and 25 pro-am teams play Pebble Beach for the tournament and the multi-million $ purse. However, back in 1937, Sam Snead picked up a relatively modest $500 first prize.|
Pebble Beach is Mecca for so many golfers and it’s such a joy that everyone can play here if they can afford it. At more than $500 per round, it’s not the cheapest green fee on the planet, but where else can you soak up so much history?
The course opened its tees for play in 1919 and Jack Neville laid it out with a little help from Douglas Grant (the first Captain of Canterbury Golf Club in England), but the course we play today is primarily with thanks to Henry Chandler Egan who remodelled the course ahead of the 1929 U.S. Amateur Championship. The culmination of their combined efforts, with a little help from the “Golden Bear”, had probably resulted in the most spectacular and memorable golf course in the world.
“If Pine Valley is the most dramatically beautiful pine-and-lakeland course in this country,” wrote Robert Trent Jones in the Complete Golfer, “Pebble Beach is its unrivalled counterpart among our oceanside courses. I say “oceanside” and not “seaside,” because “seaside has come to imply low-lying linksland, and Pebble Beach is quite the reverse. It is routed along the craggy headlands that drop abruptly into Carmel Bay.
While the architects of Pebble Beach deserve acclaim for the intrepidity with which they seized the opportunities the headlands afforded, it remains an enigma to me why they did not invoke the same shot values for the interior holes. The interior holes could not have been bequeathed the gorgeous excitement of the holes along Carmel Bay, but the same grandeur of design could easily have been sustained.”
Pebble Beach is a classically simple out-and-back affair but it makes the adrenaline pump. If you can ignore the beauty of the surroundings and keep your mind focused on the game, you might card a decent score. If you can’t ignore the thundering Pacific, just take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. With so many great holes to mention we’ll keep it brief. Holes 7 to 10 comprise of probably the greatest sequence of holes on the planet.
Take a deep breath and get your wallet ready for the rollercoaster golfing ride of its life.
Pebble Beach is a once in a lifetime experience, that is, it's awesome to play once, enjoy the views and the golf history, but leaving without any desire to return. The reality of this lies in the Pebble Beach company, whose business model is precisely the polar opposite of Bandon, Sand Valley, or Pinehurst. Their sole goal is to have as many people pass through their course paying as much money as they can reap. As an economics major I have no problem with that, they are simply meeting market demand. However, this leaves a passionate guest with a sour taste in his mouth, as it shows a lack of care for the reputation of the course among the greats.
*Also, just a bit of fun math for people: for the price of admission in one round of Pebble Beach (meaning the greens fee and required three nights spent on property), you could play 36 (technically unlimited/day with their replay policy) a day during high season at Bandon for four days and five nights in their hotel.
The Company believes that their course and its setting is as good as it can get, therefore they can make adjustments to dampen the course simply to get guests around quicker (still at 6 hour pace) while keeping the USGA happy. This can be seen in the flattening of bunker on 12 or the awkward looking fairway approach at 16, just to name a few. The one exception to this is softening and expanding a few greens, such as 8, 11, 13, and 14 to USGA specs. This, however, shows that they are fully capable of restoring the course or making upgrades, but they are too far removed from a passion for golf to care. There are tons of great images showing the rugged bunkering that used to intimidate players at Pebble, not to mention the formerly wild seventh in the faux-dunes, but this greatness does not align with the Company's mission. But now for my actual description of the course:
The first few holes are often disparaged as being the worst on the course and not fitting in with the rest, which I slightly disagree with. The third is a beautiful dogleg left that formerly hugged the barranca and plays to a green backed by the first ocean-view of the day. Mackenzie even called this hole his favorite on the course back in the 20's, as written in the Spirit of St. Andrew's. The fourth gives an option with a centerline bunker as to how aggressive one would like to be, and a little short grass could make it a great risk-reward 4. The fifth is often talked about by the Company as an homage to Samuel Morse's vision, a vision which I don't believe called for such an awkward looking hole. While the land is obviously beautiful the bunkering and unnatural mounding makes the hole feel out of place, and I believe that altering this hole slightly with inspiration from the original bunkering could do wonders.
Turning back to the 6th tee one gets to feel the excitement of arriving to the holes they paid a pretty penny to play. The oceanside holes are truly great, the 6th is a great hazard template that plays severely uphill on the second, making hitting the fairway that much more important. The seventh is a breathtaking hole, and although it is one of the most photographed holes in golf its amazing how they were able to fit this hole on such a small bit of land. The green itself is flat and boring, and although the faux-dunes look that is seen in images from the 1929 Am may not be a goal, the shape of the green would create much more intrigue, allowing the perfection of the strategy to match the scenery. The 8th is beautiful hole with the second shot requiring a heroic canyon over the cove. While the 9th lacks the width it once did it is still an enjoyable hole, playing straight downhill to beautiful sights of Carmel. The 10th hugs the cliff more, and if you're able the cliffside tee creates one of the coolest tee shots in golf playing diagonally over the cliffs.
The turn away from the ocean isn't horrible; the 11th is one of the most strategic on the course where you must position yourself up the left side to have a good look into the narrow green. The 12th and 13th are rather forgettable holes, but the 14th is a true test of a par 5, wrapping uphill to a near impossible green. The 15th may be the poster child for my views of Pebble Beach, as it might be one of the more boring golf holes I've ever played, as the blind tee shot yields the view of a modge-podge of awkward bunkers and two roads guarding a fairway playing towards a boring green.
The closing stretch saves the round slightly, as the 16th sits on great land playing over a barranca to a green that slopes severely from right to left and back to front. The 17th is the famous hourglass shape, making it somewhat awkward for its length but lends a beautiful infinity view into the Pacific. The 18th is a great risk reward cape hole around the oceanfront, guarded by a very strategic tree.
The theme of this review is the beauty: Pebble has 9 holes running along the ocean, an asset that only a few courses in the world can claim. However, if you were to take that away, the golf is pretty bland, more akin to a mediocre, higher-end public course than a course which raters claim is among the best in the world. It's a great experience, and the views make the pace of play bearable. It's amazing to go once, and if you make the trek and hope to save a bit on green fees with your other few required days of stay, Poppy Hills and Pacific Grove are truly delightful and highly recommended.
What more can be said about Pebble than has already been said? We all know the course so well, the 6 hour rounds etc. so I will try and give my take on my experience.
The course just blew me away. I think there’s some fair comment about some of the holes being slightly underwhelming, I’m thinking of the start in particular, but I think from 4 onwards I can’t really think of a bad hole for me.
I thought 4 was sneaky good. Short, uphill to a tiny green. Pacific on the right, bunkers placed everywhere. It’s really hard to know what club to hit off the tee to avoid the trouble which I was unsuccessful in by finding a fairway bunker! And don’t make the mistake of missing this green long. It reminded me of 12 at the Old Course.
One of the biggest surprises for me was just how much the undulation changes. I’ve always been aware that 6 plays downhill and 11 plays uphill. I was not prepared for how severely 9 slopes down and how much holes like 4 and 13 play uphill. I’d spent the 6 months before my visit playing the course on a simulator so felt I knew it fairly well but the slopes took me by surprise. Even the right hand side of the first green is a huge drop off!
As everyone knows the greens are absolutely tiny. You don’t really get an appreciation for how small until you step foot on them. And a quick word for the course condition as well. The greens were phenomenal when I played. Very true and lightning quick. Considering how much play they must get I was very impressed.
My only gripe with the whole experience would be the lack of some sort of goodie bag/memento bag before you start. Most high end places I’ve played like this give you a little bag with stroke saver, yardage book, bag tag etc however nothing here, which given the green fee was disappointing.
Overall though, one of the most incredible golfing experiences I’ve ever had, probably only matched by Ardfin. I actually feel like there are a number of similarities between the two courses. Both located in stunning settings, both small greens. Both have some exhilarating shots. If Ardfin could sort out some of its playability issues it would be every bit as good as this place.
Pebble Beach can best be summed up by me in 3 simple words: heaven on earth
The round is long, the greens fee expensive, and despite being public, getting a tee time is no easy task… but Pebble Beach is still very worth it. Few courses match its history or its ability to get one’s pulse racing — 6,7,8 is arguably one of the greatest three hole stretches in the game… and 17,18 one of its best finishers. However, part of what makes Pebble Beach great for so many is also what makes me wonder (perhaps unfairly) whether or not I’d still consider it a World Top 25 if it weren’t adjacent to the Pacific.
Pebble Beach is a bucket list course for most (all?) golfers for a reason: it has a great out and back routing, plenty of iconic holes along the ocean, and a lot of history and nostalgia.
There is not sense in giving a hole-by-hole recount, given so many people have seen all of the holes on TV from the annual Pro-Ams held there, and of course, the US Opens the course has hosted. Instead, a few quick thoughts are below:
- The smaller greens demand good iron play and good club selection, which is no easy task in the wind, and there are some truly incredible iron shots that you can hit into the greens. The second shot on the par 4 8th hole (likely one of the best par 4s in the world) that carries over the water and has significant elevation change is one of the more thrilling irons you will ever hit in your life.
- Holes 4-10 are spectacular (especially holes 6-10 which is one of the best stretches of golf out there), but 3 offers a fun tee shot and an interesting approach when the pin is front right behind a mound as well. 1 and 2 allow you to ease your nerves and get into your round, but they are admittedly not memorable holes. Of course, holes 17 and 18 are iconic on the back, but 16 can be treacherous if your ball misses the green. Holes 11-15 feel like a bit of a lull, through the steep sloped green at 11 can provide some excitement, but they are not BAD holes, just much weaker comparatively to a very high standard. Some work around the green complexes and perhaps adding a fairway bunker in certain places could make the inland holes more compelling, but no matter what, they will always be discounted to the oceanside holes.
- Yes, it is expensive to play here, but it is worth it to do at least once in your lifetime. These reviews are a judgment of the course itself, and not of the perceived “value” (which varies by every golfer) of playing there, though I realize it’s not completely accessible as most public courses at the price point it demands
- Finally, for those who say “If Pebble we not on the ocean, it would not be ranked so high” – what is the point of weighing this hypothetical scenario that does not reflect reality? The course IS on the ocean, so just judge the course as you would any other course: for what it is and what it presents you.
Yes, it’s a long round just as many other destination courses (Whistling, Kiawah, etc.), expensive to play, and it has a couple of holes that are comparatively weaker than the many spectacular holes that the course provides, but this site is about ranking the actual course itself, and Pebble Beach lives up to the hype in that regard.
The history, the accommodations (lodge), the layout, the conditions and the atmosphere are all 9 out of 10 but the views make the place. You often find yourself distracted because of them and its one of the only places that the golf game takes a back seat. I have been extremely fortunate to play many of the best private and public courses in the US and when I leave them its a check off my list. Pebble was different. I was on the flight home trying to figure out how to get back asap!
To write a review about a course such as Pebble Beach is try and critique a Van Gogh painting or Beatles album. So many people know it so well that the review in my eyes, needs to be less about describing the course, and more about my experience of playing it.
Having walked the course at the 2019 US Open, I knew what to expect in terms of the layout and lie of the land, but nothing can prepare you for actually walking these revered fairways with your own ball in play.
My tee shot off the 1st tee was a weak fade flirting with the OB, brought on by a significant amount of major championship history induced butterflies. It took me a couple of holes to really settle down but once I did, I started to see some of the parts of the course I recognised more easily from the TV and this made for some enjoyable golf.
The marquee holes are clearly 4-10 and 17 and 18 due to their proximity to the water and the many famous highlights that have been played out across these holes over the years. Looking at the others, I actually felt the Par 5 14th is one of my favourite holes on the course, as it tests every part of your game and is much more difficult a hole seen up close and personal.
Two points to note about playing a round at Pebble Beach. Number one is that is expensive. I managed to pay the walk up rate which significantly reduced the total outlay. However normally you would need to stay in the attached resort even to be able to book a tee time, not a cheap affair. And secondly, this will not be a quick round, something that I always find difficult to deal with. You can understand at Pebble though, particularly on the front nine. People want photographs from varying vistas on the signature holes and in all honesty, the design of holes 4 through 8 encourage a lot of delays as there are blind shots, difficult holes and two thought provoking par 3’s that all combine to slow down the pace of play.
My key takeaway from playing the course is just how good you need to be from 100 yards in and how placing your drive on the correct side of the fairway is the key to having any chance of a birdie. A classic case in point is hole 11. If you don’t find the left half of this fairway or a good lie in the left rough, a par 4 is most certainly the best outcome you can hope for. These greens are incredibly small and having an angle in to a flag along a decent portion of the green is your only hope at getting close.
Another point you might not see on the TV is just now sloped and undulating a lot of these holes are, particularly on the front half. The run from 6-10 slopes invariably towards the sea, the ball being below your feet for a right handed golfer. I’m sure you’ll agree, that there is nothing more intimidating than trouble to the right with the ball below your feet.
Bucket list golf is defined by courses like Pebble Beach. It’s a pilgrimage for any golfer and is a truly iconic place in the world of golf. The memories of the tee shots at 7 and 18 will be with you until you’re grey and old, but it isn’t perfect. The cost, pace of play and playing conditions (due to the amount of traffic the course gets) mean you will possibly feel pangs of dissatisfaction. But taking a step back and taking in the magnitude of what this course means in the world of golf will, hopefully quell any negative memories that may arise. I will certainly remember this twilight round by the Pacific with the fondest of memories.
Pebble Beach is a must play for many reasons, but you really can't understate how good the land is. Holes 6-10 are pretty much as good as it gets, but Hole 12 is an example of one of the few bad golf holes on the course. I think a restoration would be more beneficial at Pebble than any other course in the Top 20, mainly by bringing back green complexes and bunkering style.
Pebble is a special place. Candidly you step on 1 and think....Am I at Pebble? You play 2 and 3 and similar thoughts rumble. You get to 5 and as you traverse thru to 11 you realize you just played maybe the best 6 holes anywhere. A few more ok holes and then 15 thru 18 are sublime. You'll have those that postulate Spyglass is better....They are uninformed. It's a big bite to play Pebble....Yes, But you can play Pebble.
Price not withstanding, a must play. Holes 5-10 and 17-18 are even more breathtaking in person than they are TV.
Wonderful experience in views that are hard to beat in the US. Like Portrush in Ireland, in my humble opinion it should be outside the top 20 and is not quite as good as Spyglass from a course perspective if you ignore the views. Still a fantastic few hours of golf and accessible unlike many others on the list.