PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS
Course Architects: Jack Neville and Douglas Grant (1918).
Redesign/Renovation Work: Arthur H. Vincent (1919), William Herbert Fowler
(1922), Alister MacKenzie (1926), Henry Chandler
Egan, Robert Hunter and Roger Lapham (1928), Jack
Nicklaus and Ed Conner (1990-91), Nicklaus (1998),
Arnold Palmer (2001-09).
Year Opened: February 22, 1919
Location: Pebble Beach, California
Slope: 149. Rating: 76.3
Par: 72 (Par 71 for the 2010 U.S. Open)
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 380 Yds 10 - Par 4 495 Yds
2 - Par 5 502 Yds 11 - Par 4 390 Yds
3 - Par 4 404 Yds 12 - Par 3 202 Yds
4 - Par 4 331 Yds 13 - Par 4 445 Yds
5 - Par 3 195 Yds 14 - Par 5 580 Yds
6 - Par 5 523 Yds 15 - Par 4 397 Yds
7 - Par 3 109 Yds 16 - Par 4 403 Yds
8 - Par 4 428 Yds 17 - Par 3 208 Yds
9 - Par 4 505 Yds 18 - Par 5 543 Yds
Par 36 3,377 Yds Par 36 3,663 Yds
Key Events Held: U.S. Open (1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019),
U.S. Amateur (1929, 1947, 1961, 1999, 2018),
U.S. Women's Amateur (1940, 1948),
PGA Championship (1977),
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (1947-Present),
Callaway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational (2003-Present),
First Tee Open at Pebble Beach (2004-Present).
Awards Won: #1 by Golf Digest-America's 100 Greatest Public Courses (2009-10),
#1 by GolfWeek - Best Courses You Can Play by State (2010),
#2 by Golf Digest - Best in State, California (2009-10),
#5 by Golf Magazine - Top 100 U.S. Courses (2009),
#6 by Golf Digest - America's 100 Great Golf Courses (2009-10),
#7 by Golf Magazine - Top 100 World Courses (2009),
#8 by GolfWeek - Top 100 U.S. Classic Courses (2009-10).
HISTORY: Pebble Beach founder Samuel F.B. Morse, nephew of the inventor of the
telegraph and Morse code, had a vision to create a one-of-a-kind course with
unsurpassed scenic beauty and an element of difficulty that would always be
challenged but never conquered. Morse, the captain of the 1906 national
champion Yale football team, hired two amateur golfers who had never before
designed a golf course, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, to lay out his dream
tract. Both players were accomplished, having each won the California Amateur
Championship title, but course design was another matter. Despite their lack
experience, Morse charged Neville and Grant with creating a seaside course to
salvage a failing real estate development.
For roughly $100,000 in construction costs, the amateur duo routed the famed
seaside links, which now features nine holes along the water. Originally, only
eight holes (4, 6-10, 17-18) were strung along the Pacific Ocean, but in 1998,
Pebble Beach purchased additional land to create a new par-three fifth hole
along Stillwater Cove. Another early change was the design of the closing
hole, which originally played as a par four. Prior to the 1929 U.S. Amateur,
Henry Chandler Egan, a two-time winner of this title, changed the 18th into a
Pebble Beach has been host to some amazing events, including four U.S. Opens,
a PGA Championship and four U.S. Amateurs, and since 1947 has been the main
venue for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, formerly called the Crosby
Pro-Am and named after legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.
It was the 1929 U.S. Amateur Championship that put Pebble Beach on the map, as
the USGA made its first ever trip to California for that event. It also marked
the first appearance of heralded amateur Bobby Jones in the Golden State.
After tying for medalist honors, Jones was surprisingly ousted in the first
round by Johnny Goodman, 1-up. Jones would never lose another significant
match, and just one year later captured the "Grand Slam" of golf. Harrison
Johnston won the '29 U.S. Amateur, defeating O.F. Willing, 4 & 3. The field
also included Francis Ouimet, H. Chandler Egan and Lawson Little, Jr.
The USGA returned in 1940 for the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, as Betty
Jameson defeated Jane Cothran, 6 & 5 for the title, the first of her back-to-
back Amateur titles.
Following World War II, Pebble Beach Golf Links was awarded several key
events, and over a 20-month stretch hosted the U.S. Men's and Women's Amateur
Championships, two California State Amateurs and two Bing Crosby National Pro-
The 1947 U.S. Amateur title was captured by Robert Henry "Skee" Riegel, as he
defeated Johnny Dawson, 2 & 1 in the championship match. Turning professional
three years later, Riegel played in 11 straight Masters, including a runner-up
finish to Ben Hogan in 1951.
Grace Cronin captured the 1948 U.S. Women's Amateur, defeating Helen Sigel
Wilson, 4 & 3. The stellar field included Peggy Kirk, Jacqueline Pung, Marlene
and Alice Bauer and Glenna Collette Vare.
In 1961, the U.S. Amateur Championship returned for the third time, as Jack
Nicklaus won the second of his two Amateur titles, cruising to an 8 & 6 win
over Dudley Wysong. The field featured a who's who of future top players, such
as George Archer, Deane Beman, Homero Blancas, Jim Colbert, Billy Joe Patton
and Kermit Zarley. Of his seven matches, Nicklaus never needed to play the
18th hole and only two reached the 17th. This win became a virtual love affair
for Nicklaus and Pebble Beach.
The golf course and The Lodge continued to grow in stature, but it was Morse's
plan to persuade the USGA to hold a U.S. Open there. By this time, Aimee "Tim"
Michaud was running the day-to-day operations and was developing a long-term
goal for Pebble Beach - The Del Monte Plan - which would take the region into
the 21st Century. Morse did not leave to see the dream take shape, as he died
on May 10, 1969 at the age of 88. Just three months later, however, Michaud
convinced the USGA to host the national championship.
When people talk about U.S. Opens played at Pebble, 1972 comes to mind and
Nicklaus' one-iron on the 17th hole that rattled the pin as he defeated Bruce
Crampton by three shots. Nicklaus, who has acknowledged that Pebble Beach Golf
Links is his favorite course, was either tied for, or leading the championship
after each day's play. When the final round began, wind gusts up to 35 miles
per hour blew through the course and after five holes, Nicklaus and Arnold
Palmer were tied for the lead. Over the next four holes, Nicklaus would assume
control again and despite a double-bogey on 10, led Palmer by two. Still
trailing, Palmer, with his go-for-broke style, bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes
and eventually finished in third. With just two holes remaining, Nicklaus
produced the shot of the championship, as his tee shot on 17 cut through the
wind and bounced off the stick to within six inches for birdie. Despite a
bogey on the last, Nicklaus finished at two-over-par, the highest winning
score at a U.S. Open since World War II. Palmer's second round of 68 was the
lowest score of any player that finished in the top-20 and equaled only by
Lanny Wadkins in that same round.
Wadkins' fond memories would not fade, as he would go on to capture the 1977
PGA Championship at the famed golf course. Trailing tournament leader Gene
Littler by six shots heading into the final round, Wadkins carded a Sunday-
tying best round of 70 to finish regulation tied with Littler. In the first
sudden-death playoff in major championship history, Wadkins sank a six-foot
par putt on the third extra hole for the title. Despite two front-nine eagles,
Wadkins trailed by five, however Littler bogeyed five of his first six holes
on the back side. Littler's closest competitor however was Nicklaus, who
forged into a tie with the leader. Nicklaus, however, in an ironic twist,
bogeyed the 17th and finished one back in third. Wadkins birdied the closing
hole to force the playoff. For the week, the course played to a scoring
average of 75.36 with only six players on the final day breaking par.
Now known as the Pebble Beach Corporation, many profitable companies began to
take interest in 1978, including Twentieth Century-Fox. By May of 1979, the
deal was completed for the amazing price of $81.5 million. Then in 1982, oil-
magnate Marvin Davis bought Twentieth Century-Fox and took over the running of
all Pebble Beach holdings.
Who could forget the spectacular 1982 U.S. Open, when Tom Watson denied
Nicklaus a fifth Open title when he chipped in on 17 from a somewhat
impossible lie after telling his caddie "I'm going to make it." Watson started
the final round tied for the lead with Bill Rogers, as Nicklaus trailed by
three. After back-to-back opening fives, Nicklaus went on a birdie barrage,
making five straight to tie Rogers for the lead, with Watson one back. The
advantage see-sawed among the trio, with Watson taking the lead after a Rogers
bogey on 12. He would eventually finish third. Nicklaus moved into a tie with
Watson following a birdie on 15, however a 40-foot birdie on 14th pushed
Watson ahead. His lead was short-lived, as he bogeyed the 16th, setting up the
amazing dramatics on 17. Watching from the scorers tent, Nicklaus saw Watson's
predicament and surmised a playoff would be the result, however Watson's
heroic shot would stifle Nicklaus' championship run. A closing birdie on 18
proved to be icing on the cake, as Watson prevailed for his only U.S. Open
title by two over the greatest golfer of all time. For the week, Watson
averaged just over 27 putts per round, ranking him first for the championship.
Once again, the course proved to be quite difficult, as the players managed a
75.58 scoring average and only four rounds in the 60s on the final day. Watson
was second in the field in birdies made with 20, keyed by three birdies on 17
and two on 18. Wadkins enjoyed a successful return to Pebble Beach, as he tied
Although he enjoyed his leadership at Pebble Beach, Davis was being hounded by
Japanese businessman Minuro Isutani, who wanted to own the resort in the
worst way. The price reportedly reached $1.2 billion, but that did not deter
Isutani. They eventually settled for approximately $840 million in September
of 1990. The purchase was not a favorable one around the nation and
eventually, Isutani sold to Taiheiyo Club, Inc. led by Masatsugu Takabayashi
for $500 million in the spring of 1992.
Next up for Pebble Beach was the 1992 U.S. Open Championship. Round one saw 29
players breaking par, led by Gil Morgan's six-under 66. Phil Mickelson, making
his first professional start, birdied the first en route to a 68. Morgan
continued his stellar play, adding a three-under 69 on day two for a three-
shot lead over Andy Dillard, who was playing in his first U.S. Open. Dillard
had started round one with birdies on his first six holes. By the time he
reached the third hole on Saturday, Morgan had made history, becoming the
first player ever to reach 10-under-par in a U.S. Open. With two additional
birdies, his lead had swelled to seven at 12-under. Morgan could not keep the
pace, however, as he stumbled home with three double-bogeys and three bogeys
for a 77 and a one-stroke lead over Ian Woosnam, Mark Brooks and Tom Kite. The
final round was played in dry, windy conditions, as the greens were lightning-
fast. Morgan could not stay the tide, as he double-bogeyed the fourth hole in
the final round to fall out of the lead for good. He closed with a round of
81, playing his final 29 holes in 17-over par. Kite on the other hand, was
playing steady golf, parring the first five holes to take a one-shot lead.
Birdies on six and seven increased his advantage. Colin Montgomerie began to
make a run at the top. Starting his round in 28th position, Monty posted an
even-par total of 288, with a final round of 70 to pass 25 players. Although
he was prematurely congratulated by Nicklaus in the clubhouse, he would finish
alone in third, three shots back. Kite's two early birdies on the back nine
helped to offset back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17 and he was able to par the
last for a one-shot win over Jeff Sluman for his only major championship
title. Quite a contrast from day one, as only four players broke par and no-
one shot in the 60s. Dillard would finish tied for 17th, while Mickelson would
miss the cut shooting 81 in round two.
Later, the USGA awarded Pebble Beach with the 1999 U.S. Amateur Championship,
won by David Gossett. In a field that included current PGA stars, Ben Curtis,
Lucas Glover, Bryce Molder, Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III,
Jonathan Byrd, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar, it was Gossett who defeated Sung-
Yoon Kim, 9 & 8 in the end. Gossett dominated the match from start to finish,
winning six of the first nine holes in the 36-hole finale. For the
championship, the USGA accepted a record of 7,920 entries, the highest of any
1999 was also marked by the sale of the Pebble Beach Company to a consortium,
led by what would become the "Big Four," Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, Peter
Ueberroth and Richard Ferris. Completed in July of 1999, the sale was
reportedly worth $800 million.
Let's not forget the record performance from Tiger Woods in 2000, when he
demolished the field by 15 shots as he equaled the lowest score ever and
shattered the scoring mark in relation to par at the 100th edition of the U.S.
Open Championship. Woods led by one after an opening, bogey-free 65, by six
after the second round and by 10 following a third-round 71, his worst score
of the tournament. His closing 67 produced a 12-under-par, 272 total, and he
defeated Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez by 15 strokes. Woods' play was
head and shoulders above the field, as he produced 21 birdies for the week. In
fact, he played his first 22 holes and the final 26 holes without a bogey and
did not have a single three-putt. Woods, who ranked first in driving distance
and greens in regulation for the week, has enjoyed his time at Pebble Beach
over the years. "One, for its pristine beauty and another for its, I guess,
mystique behind Pebble Beach," Woods commented before the Open. "I've always
absolutely loved playing here, from the time I was 13, and now, and I'll
always continue to love it." The win at Pebble Beach started a run of four
straight wins in major championships, eventually dubbed the "Tiger Slam." In
his farewell appearance in the U.S. Open, Nicklaus missed the cut with rounds
of 73 and 82. "Pebble Beach has always been a great part of my life," said the
man who played in 44 consecutive Opens.
Pebble Beach Golf Links has played host to the AT&T National Pro-Am since
1947, when it was hosted by celebrated entertainer Bing Crosby. The Crosby
Clambake, as it was affectionately called, produced an amazing list of
champions over the years, such as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Sam
Snead, five-time champion Mark O'Meara, three-time winners Jack Nicklaus,
Johnny Miller and Phil Mickelson and two-time champions Tom Watson and Davis
"Champagne" Tony Lema captured the 1964 Crosby, just seven years after he
accidentally fell off the cliff on number nine, suffering several bruises and
Cary Middlecoff became the first back-to-back winner of the Crosby at Pebble
Beach when he won in 1955-56. His bid for the three-peat ended when Jay
Herbert edged Middlecoff in 1957 by two shots.
Jack Nicklaus won his second Crosby title in 1972, the same year he would go
on to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Nicklaus defeated Miller in a playoff
on the first extra hole, after Miller shanked his approach on 16, forcing the
extra session. Nicklaus won again the following year in a playoff over Raymond
Floyd and Orville Moody.
Just two years after his gaffe, Miller won the rain-shortened event by four
shots over Grier Jones. His additional wins in 1987 and 1994, made Miller the
only golfer ever to win the event in three different decades.
Mark O'Meara's fifth and final win at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am came in
1997, as he posted a record score of 268, shooting four straight 67s. O'Meara
defeated David Duval and Tiger Woods by one shot.
Just three years later, Woods tuned up for his record-setting U.S. Open
performance with one of the greatest comebacks in PGA Tour history. Woods
found himself seven shots behind leader Matt Gogel with only seven holes
remaining in the final round. Woods began to heat up on the par-four 15th when
his 97-yard approach trickled in the hole for eagle and then his approach on
16 finished an inch away for birdie. A birdie finish on 18 climaxed a
brilliant round of 64, the best finish by a winner in the history of the
tournament, as Woods finished at 15-under 273. Seeking his first win on tour,
Gogel saw his lead slip with bogeys on 11 and 12 and two additional dropped
shots had Gogel closing with a 40 on the back nine, leaving him tied for
second with Vijay Singh. Gogel had a chance to force a playoff, but his 10-
foot birdie try slid by the wayside. Gogel would rebound two years later to
win the event by three shots over Pat Perez for his lone PGA Tour title.
Mickelson has enjoyed a successful time at Pebble Beach with three titles, the
last coming in 2007, when he equaled the tournament record of 268, by
defeating Kevin Sutherland by five shots. The win was his 30th on Tour as he
dominated the event ranking first in greens in regulation, playing the par
fives in 10-under par, missing only six fairways in the final three rounds and
not having a three-putt all week. "This means a lot to me because it's a place
where I have family memories," said Mickelson, whose grandfather once caddied
at Pebble Beach. "I love coming back to this place."
Since the "Big Four" took over in the summer of 1999, there have been several
changes made to the golf course. Additional tee boxes and length, tree
removal/addition, reshaping and adding bunkers and moving fairways, were some
of the changes led by Arnold Palmer and the Pebble Beach design team with
input from senior vice president of golf at PB, R.J. Harper. A 25-year veteran
of the Pebble Beach Company, Harper has risen from tournament marshal to his
current post, in addition to general chairman of the 2010 U.S. Open. "There's
nothing better than working with these gentlemen that serve on our board, who
cherish this place like no other," said Harper. "The overall concept was to
add a bit of length, rebuild, redesign and to push fairways closer to the
ocean," added Harper.
United States Golf Association senior director of rules and competition Mike
Davis was equally pleased with the results. "I have never seen Pebble Beach as
good as it is right now. This is really a shot-maker's golf course." Davis
added, "This is not only one of our greatest U.S. Open venues, but Pebble
Beach really is a national treasure in terms of golf."
With the 2010 staging of the U.S. Open, more history will certainly be made.
REVIEW: The opening hole at Pebble Beach is a dogleg right par four of just
380 yards in length. Trees guard the right side of the landing area, while a
pair of traps lurk left where the fairway tightens considerably. Just a short
iron remains to a slightly elevated and tightly-bunkered green. Both traps to
the right of the putting surface sit well below the green. All putts break to
the right, an indication of what's in store, as many surfaces cant towards the
Although playing as a par four for the 2010 U.S. Open Championship, the second
is a straightaway five-par that leaves you thinking, what's so special about
this course? That will come later. At 502 yards, it's a simple hole that can
leave you with a realistic chance of getting home in two, as long as you hit
the fairway. Bunkers right and left pinch the landing area, so accuracy is key
to scoring here. Roughly 75 yards short of the green, a barranca lays in
waiting and is not to be taken lightly, so laying up at the 100-yard mark,
should leave a nice wedge to a long and narrow putting surface. A real birdie
chance, but par is not so bad. In 2003, a new championship tee was built,
increasing the length by 15 yards.
Your first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean comes by way of the third hole. A
short, dogleg left par four that has been extended by 15 yards, this hole
features a sliver of a fairway as it bends almost 90-degrees towards a small
green surrounded by three bunkers. There are several factors that come into
play if you want to master this hole. The tee shot must favor a draw around
the corner, avoiding the addition of several Cypress trees along the left side
and the three bunkers on the right. The minuscule putting surface was
increased by 200 square feet, but you'll still need to be spot on with your
short iron to have any shot at birdie, let alone par.
The fourth hole should be routine for most players at just 331 yards, however
with the ocean lurking down the entire right side as a lateral hazard, one
begins to worry. A hybrid or fairway metal should suffice off the tee on this
slightly, uphill straightaway par four. Sand and deep rough left should be
avoided, but with the coastline right, at least you'll be dry. The putting
surface, which slopes from back to front, is almost completely surrounded by
sand, so once again, your wedge better be accurate.
For years, the fifth hole at Pebble Beach was an inland par three that played
uphill, away from the ocean. Some dubbed the hole as the only dogleg par three
in the world. After years of negotiating with the family that owned the parcel
of land along the ocean and the passing of the original owner, the powers that
be were able to purchase property they desperately wanted for their course.
Opened for play in the winter of 1998, the fifth is now a wonderful hole
designed by Jack Nicklaus at a cost of $3 million, some calling the most
expensive hole in championship golf, as it sits upon the bluffs of Stillwater
Cove, some 50-feet above the ocean. Wind will certainly affect your play and
club selection, but it's never a bad choice to favor the left side, as balls
will repel towards the green. The putting surface is one of the longest on the
course and a back-right pin can be very intimidating. During Woods' exciting
run at the 2000 U.S. Open, this was the only par-three during the championship
that he would bogey.
Several changes have been made to the par-five sixth, including an additional
10 yards to its length. It is a daunting hole that is quite breathtaking and
diabolical at the same time. With Stillwater Cove along the right and the
fairway now shaped closer to the water, you'll need an accurate tee ball to
negotiate this beauty. Five well-crafted bunkers have replaced the one solo
trap that originally occupied the left side of the fairway. Your second shot
must now carry a very steep slope on your way towards the green and avoid the
traps on left. If laying up, you'll have just a short pitch to a putting
surface that rises in the back. One word of caution, whatever you do, don't
miss right! Tiger Woods birdied the sixth twice during his 2000 U.S. Open
Championship run, including a two-putt birdie after he put his seven-iron
second shot from 205-yards away on the green.
One of the most photographed holes in golf, the par-three seventh is just 109
yards long and one of the most difficult. This is when the elements really
come into play. On a calm day, sand wedge is the norm. However, when
conditions are blustery, a knock down six-iron could be the call. Just ask Tom
Kite, who needed that very same club in the 1992 U.S. Open. He knocked it just
over the green, however he holed his chip shot en route to winning his only
major championship. "Everyone remembers that shot, and believe me I will never
forget it," Kite said.
To say that the eighth hole is one of the greatest in all of golf, could be a
stretch, but it's pretty darn close. Playing uphill from the tee, you'll need
to favor the left side, as most shots will roll to the right towards the
ocean. Your second shot is quite breathtaking and will be played over a deep
ravine with a mid- to long-iron. Nicklaus calls the second shot his favorite
approach shot in all of golf. The green sits well below the fairway and is
sandwiched between a series of bunkers. Sloping from back to front and left to
right, you must stay below the hole to have any shot at par. What, you thought
I was going to say birdie!
It used to be a good hole, but now the ninth is a great one. Since 2000, 50
yards has been added, making the ninth a whopping 505 yards. Yes, it plays
downhill, but that is still a long way. With the ocean to the right, you must
play down the left, as all shots will cant towards the water. Now the fun
begins, as you're left with a very difficult approach, played downhill towards
the well-guarded and windswept green. The putting surface sits precariously
close to the ocean cliffs. Although a back-left pin over the bunker might take
the water out of play, it will certainly be very difficult to attack.
As a mid-400-yard par four, the 10th was a beautiful hole, framed on the right
by the Pacific Ocean, but now with a new championship tee adding 50 yards,
this hole is downright nasty. Similar to the ninth, the fairway slopes hard to
the right and features a difficult series of traps down the left. The putting
surface is quite small and plays slightly downhill from the landing area. The
proper play would be just short of the green and let the ball feed towards the
cup. I did and made birdie. Long is sand and right, well, you might be able to
find your ball on the beach.
As you reach the 11th tee, don't be to distraught about moving away from the
ocean views, you'll still be able to get glimpses of the Pacific throughout
the remainder of your round. One of four of the par-fours under 400 yards in
length, the 11th is a nice, uphill hole that bends to the right and will
certainly grab your attention, especially if you miss the fairway. The play is
down the left side, setting up a perfect angle of attack, but missing the
landing area and you'll pay a hefty price. The oblong green slopes from back
to front, left to right and tends to be very quick and is surrounded on three
sides by sand. Other than that, piece of cake.
You'll need to be spot on at the par-three 12th, as the wide, but shallow
green is protected in front by a gaping bunker. The putting surface will be
hard to hold with a long iron, so go the route of a hybrid or fairway metal
for your best course of action. Miss long and you'll end up in sand, way right
and your OB! The 12th is the lone hole at Pebble Beach that has not been
altered since 2000. Back in the late 1920s, Chandler Egan and Alister
Mackenzie made significant changes.
At 399 yards, the 13th was a routine straightaway par four. That was then.
This is now, a new championship tee was added for the 2010 U.S. Open. This one
might be unlucky for some of the players, as it stretches to 445 yards. Avoid
the trio of traps down the right side of the fairway, not to mention the L-
shaped, 100-yard trap on the right and you'll be left with a short- to mid-
iron for your approach. To get home however, you'll need at least an extra
club to reach the putting surface and at all costs, stay below the hole. This
green, the quickest at Pebble Beach, slopes hard from right to left and back
The longest hole on the course, the 14th reaches 580 yards from the
championship tees and plays every bit of that number. Slightly uphill from the
tee, the holes bends sharply to the right, requiring a tall fade over the
corner of the trees and the dogleg. The landing area has been pinched with the
addition of three bunkers and the serpentine fairway has been tightened. If
you can layup down the right side, you'll have a better approach to the green,
but you'll still need to contend with the greenside bunker fronting the left.
Take an extra club to reach the elevated putting surface, which features a
huge slope on the right. Chipping areas deep and left will make for a
difficult up and down, just ask Paul Goydos, who made a nine at the 2010 AT&T
National Pro-Am during the final round and tied for fifth.
One of the more deceiving tee shots on the course is on the par-four 15th.
Trees on the left side shield that side of the fairway from view, thus giving
the illusion of a tight landing area. In addition, five new bunkers have been
installed down the left hand side, including one pot bunker that is placed 10
yards within the fairway. Lay back short of the trap and you're left with just
a short iron to another slick green. The putting surface is just 24 paces deep
with three bunkers left, right and deep. The green tilts from right to left
and back to front, so again, stay below the hole.
The closing three holes at Pebble Beach offer wonderful views of Stillwater
Cove. No. 16 starts off the stretch as a slight dogleg right par four of
modest length. The tee shot is crucial, as it must clear the 50-yard bunker
oasis down the left-center. Three-metal or hybrid should suffice, as the
fairway does pinch as you get closer to the green. From the landing area,
you're left with a short- to mid-iron to a very tight putting surface. The
downhill approach is made even more difficult by deep bunker that sits well
below the green (I should know, since my approach ended up here). The green is
tilted from right to left, with thick gnarly rough encircling the surface.
The 17th hole at Pebble Beach is as good as it gets. Just ask Nicklaus and
Watson, who both clinched U.S. Open championships on this hole. With the
Pacific Ocean in full view from the tee, weather conditions will dictate your
course of action. A par on this devilish par-three with an hourglass green,
the largest on the course, will make your day, maybe your life! Nicklaus
knocked his one-iron off the flagstick en route to victory in 1972 and Watson
chipped in from the left fringe in 1982 to derail Nicklaus for his only U.S.
Open title. Originally just a routine-length par three, it can now be
stretched to 225 yards with a back-left pin.
The 18th hole is a perfect way to end your round. Mike Davis of the USGA calls
18, "one of the greatest finishing holes in golf." Hopefully, you'll have to
wait on the tee, so you'll be able to absorb the surroundings and what
transpired during your round. Sitting on the fence, remembering your birdies,
bogeys, Nicklaus pondering his future, this is what golf is all about. With
water looming all along the left side, the tee shot must be placed left of the
fairway trees some 265 from the box. Your second shot would be ideally located
on the left side of the fairway, leaving a little wedge to a green that
features putts that tend to fall ocean side. With the changes in equipment,
players have been known to get home in two and make easy birdies. Just ask
Dustin Johnson, who made birdie both days he played Pebble, as he won his
second straight AT&T National Pro-Am in 2010. "It's such a gorgeous hole,"
Johnson said. "It's one of the most beautiful holes in golf." Johnson got
up and down from the front, greenside bunker for birdie and the win.
FINAL WORD: When I first played Pebble Beach back in 2000, it had just
overtaken Pine Valley as the No. 1 course in the United States. I remembered
the course being beautiful, with breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Ocean,
especially on holes four through 10, then 17 and 18. My rating of the course
was that it was not as good as Pine Valley, but certainly worthy of top-10
Upon further review, I still believe that Pine Valley is the best course in
the country, but Pebble Beach continues to deserve all of the wonderful
accolades it receives.
What had bothered me the first time I played the course had a lot to do with
conditioning, attitude and cost. Two out of three have been attended to.
The tees, fairways and greens were immaculate and the rough was very thick,
but fair. The putting surfaces are not filled with spines or hogbacks down the
center (17 withstanding), they are simply tilted in each direction. Let's not
forget the size of the greens, a mere 3,500 square feet. Mike Davis added,
"They are absolutely the smallest greens in major championship golf." Since
2000, Arnold Palmer and the Pebble Beach staff have worked hard to rejuvenate
this work of art and have come up aces. "Pebble Beach is a national treasure
to the game of golf," Mr. Palmer concluded.
One incredibly distinct difference, in my eyes, was the reworking of the
bunkers, which gives the course that old-time feel. Whispy grass surrounds
most of the traps, a touch that dates back to yesteryear and those wonderful
layouts in Scotland and Ireland.
In all, four greens and 16 bunkers were rebuilt, altered or installed, 11 tees
received enhancements and over 200 yards were added to the course. "Our goal
has been to strengthen Pebble Beach for today's player, while maintaining its
timeliness," continued Mr. Palmer. "I believe we have accomplished this goal
with the many improvements made over these past few years."
As for the staff...what a difference 10 years makes. What could be perceived
as an insincere attitude a decade ago, has been transformed into a courteous
and caring organization that bends over backwards to accommodate your needs.
Although the cost for a round of golf at Pebble Beach has increased to $495
and a two-night stay is required, the result certainly outweighs the means.
By the way, one word of caution while playing Pebble Beach. Do not, I repeat,
do not leave any food unattended in your golf cart, as it will surely be taken
away by the many hungry birds flying overhead. Trust me, they will pick up a
three-pound bag of trail mix in a heartbeat.
As much as you'd like to play one of the greatest courses in the country on a
perfectly sunny and benign day, which I did back in 2000, playing when the
elements are in full bloom is the way to go. My 2010 visit included wind gusts
up to 25 miles per hour, sideways rain storms and brilliant sunshine, all in a
five-hour time frame. That's golf!
You must find a way to get there, because, Pebble Beach is a must!