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, so who could 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 $400 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.
The starter welcomes you to the first tee and spends a short time explaining the layout of the course for the day and that carts are not allowed on the course (65000 rounds a year), a caddy will cost $100 + tip. He introduces you to your fellow players and you decide which tee to play off there is a sign which suggests the best tee for your handicap. Now the tingling really starts you are teeing up on the first a 400 yard dog leg to a tiny green but then all the greens are tiny which along with the thick rough which just grabs your club are what makes the course so tough.
The fairways are surprisingly wide so if you keep it straight a good score is quite within your grasp (unlike Spyglass Hill)! The 5th and 7th are just as amazing as they look on the TV spectacular views and a helpful marshal on the 7th to tell you just how long it is playing that day (80 yards) and what a tricky 80 yards it is. Finally 5 hours later, do not expect a quick round, you come to the 18th just as good as it looks on the TV, the drive over the ocean aiming at the twin Cypress trees on the fairway then either a careful layup or a big 2nd to the green for the low handicapper. Hit into the green and then put out in front of all those people just there to watch and take a photo of those who a lucky enough to play this wonderful course. My highlights were the stunning views and the blind uphill second aiming at that lone Cypress tree at the back of the 5th a truly intimidating shot but so rewarding.
This year Pebble Beach is hosting another US Open Championship – the fifth in its history. Previous winners were Nicklaus in 1972, Tom Watson in 1982, Tom Kite in 1992 and Tiger Woods’s 15 stroke victory in 2000. The course went through significant changes since its last championship. It had four greens and sixteen bunkers rebuilt, altered or installed; eleven tees have benefited from enhancements, and six holes have seen the addition or adjustment of trees. The total length of the course has also been lengthened to 7,040 yards, but it’s still playing to a par 71.
The fairways have also been cut to force players to hit toward more trouble spots on a number of holes that border the Pacific Ocean’s cliffs. The increased precision required and higher difficulty is showcased on hole #8, a 428-yard hole that requires a lay-up to about 195 yards out. The tee shot will force the player to challenge the right side of the fairway as the rough has been grown along the entire left side of what used to be fairway. Then the player is faced with an extremely challenging long iron shot over a gorge to a small and undulating green. Drop a ball at the two hundred yard marker, and I would guess that the average golfer has about a one in twenty chance of hitting the green. One more thing: the prevailing winds are usually in your face making an extremely tough shot even tougher. That approach shot was one of my favourites of all time.
Other features of Pebble Beach that one can't appreciate on TV are the size and undulation of the greens. There are some shots where one sees very little of the putting surface with bunkers and mounds hiding them. The greens at Pebble Beach are the smallest on tour putting a premium on hitting the right club to the right spot. This is another difference that the amateur playing the course will experience. You really have to trust your club selection and be confident over your shot. You can really get stuck on where not to go instead of where you want to be. The most forgiving part of the course, especially when the rough is down, are the tee shots. There is an opportunity to spray the ball on a few holes and still have decent approach shots. However, with the rough grown out, tees moved back, slick postage stamp greens and the unpredictable Monterey weather, Pebble Beach is sure to test the pros at this year’s US Open Championship.
Pebble Beach was amazing in all its facets. The golf was one aspect, but there was much more. The shopping, restaurants, spa and equestrian center and the history and glamour of the place are as advertised. The resort is also a great destination for water sports, surfing, walking, food and wine and is even host to a huge car show every August. There were a number of non-golfing tourists enjoying the area and taking pictures of the many unbelievable views. When at Pebble Beach, you feel like you are somewhere significant, and you are constantly reminded of its rich history and glamour. One more thing: I recommend getting a caddy, especially if you never had one. I met a gentleman named Steve, an eleven-year veteran with over 3600 rounds caddied at Pebble Beach. He was extremely helpful, and provided a guided tour of the course and its rich history. I relied heavily on his ability to read greens and recommendations on aiming spots and yardage. He played a role in my mental approach as he always stayed positive and encouraged me to trust my swing. Steve's dream is to eventually get a bag for the US Open, and I believe he would do a tremendous job with any golfers that would utilize his tremendous knowledge of the course.
Overall, Pebble Beach was something I will always remember and not just for the golfing. The Monterey Peninsula is spectacular, and it offers a wide variety of experiences for all. I would strongly encourage any golf enthusiast to enjoy the walk on #18 at Pebble Beach. What a way to finish a round at a historical place in golf history! The three and a half footer I made for par will always stand in my mind as one of my happiest moments in golf.
Anyway, to the course... I was lucky enough to experience it on a benign and sunny day in December. I had been playing and scoring well before travelling to the States and I played well for the rest of the vacation too after I left Pebble. Even at Pebble I was striking the ball well but somehow I never even got close to my handicap. The course ever so subtely beat me to pieces and I’m still working out what happened (shot 91 off 9). It seemed like the slightest mistake resulted in double bogey. Managed to birdie 7 after stiffing it close off the tee which pleased me greatly although par at the 8th after pulling my approach back left and leaving the downhill chip from hell was probably the better achievement. I then proceeded to double the 9th out of nowhere. As others have said the stretch from 6 thru 10 (I would say 4 thru 10) is awesome. I’m trying to think of a 7 hole stretch anywhere to match it... possibly the seaside stretch at Turnberry of 4 thru 10. The 17th/18th are also awesome golf holes. Like St Andrews the 18th quite often has an impromptu gallery as busloads of Japanese & Korean tourists pass through.
To be honest if I was asked to name the weak holes, I’d struggle... 1,11,12,13 possibly, even so I’d be happy playing those holes every day. The pick of the inland holes from a difficulty point of view would have to be 14, after 570 dogleg yards a green to make even the best look completely foolish. The pro’s however might say 2 as they play it as a Par 4 rather than a 5 As I write it’s 3 weeks since I played it and I can still recall for each hole whether I hit the fairway and whether I hit the green in regulation. I can replay the vast majority of the round in my head. I don’t get that everywhere I play so that to me is my signal that I’d played a very memorable course. Alas, I cant remember every drink I had in the Tap Room afterwards. All in all I think it’s an awesome place that every golfer should experience at least once.
The practice putting green was running fast and true so expectations were high on the first tee. The caddy tried to point me (18 handicapper) to the gold tees and my friend (4) to the blues but we decided to both play the back tees. The first hole was a massive disappointment. The fairway was massively sanded - and the first green was a temporary! Bear in mind we had paid $450 each for this. No-one had told us about the condition of the course when booking or before - ludicrous. I would suggest anyone considering playing asks beforehand!
The first few holes are nondescript and really do feel like any American Country Club course. Cart paths, roads and houses making up the most notable features. From there though the holes on the water are clearly special. the par 5 6th is intimidating on the tee but actually quite playable. By the time we got to the signature par 3 7th the wind was up and yardages were not really much use. A punchy knock down was the order of the day which my partner managed. I put a gap wedge in the air and paid the price as the wind brought it back into the sand. 8 is a fantastic hole - the approach shot over a canyon truly spectacular and the par I got there will stay with me for a long time. 9 and 10 both are great holes, mainly because of the setting, before going back inland. This stretch is probably better than the first few inland holes Although the green on the par 5 14th is a bit ridiculous - after coming 572 yards is is pretty small and very angled. 17 and 18 are simply a great finishing 2 holes. The wind was up and 17 was playing a rescue for me. My partner parred it well. 18 is just a great walk up. Spolit for me by a 4 putt to shoot 92. Still, 2 over handicap from the back tees at Pebble was satisfactory!
Overall we didn't have problems with the staff that others have indicated. Everyone was friendly and the caddy pretty good. The day was slightly spolit by the sanded fairways and very inconsistent greens. Some were slow, some were fast and it was a question of having a guess when you got there. Overall though glad we did it, enjoyed the views and the history but there may not be a next time.