Pebble Beach GL

Pebble Beach, CA

#'s 8, 9 & 10 on the coastline at Pebble Beach Golf Links

Sport Illustrated/, 2/12

Golf Digest, 5/10

T&L Golf , Jan 2006

1919, Jack Neville & Douglas Grant
Blue 6719, 73.8, 142, 72
Gold 6348, 72.3, 137, 72
White 6116, 72.1,134, 72
'08 Fees: $495 + 2 night minimum resort stay @ $600 per night

Fat Guy Notes : To pay full boat for an advance tee time at Pebble Beach is probably beyond the budget of most average Joe golf nuts.  Pebble's greens fees are $495 these days. Oh, and by the way, in order to secure a tee time in advance, they require a 2-night minimum stay at the resort, and the cheapest room on the lot is $580/night (a garden view room at The Inn at Spanish Bay ) and up. So that's a paltry $1,660-plus just to get on, not counting the airfare and rental car to get here (albeit with a free room thrown in for the weekend). That's a good downpayment on a car where I'm from.

So here's the scoop on how to do Pebble from a local, golf writer Alan Shipnuck ( Bud, Sweat & Tees ):

Insider's Guide to golf in Pebble Beach area
Alan Shipnuck, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated/

"I grew up in Monterey County and spent my college summers working as a cart boy at Pebble Beach Golf Links. I still live in the area. I thought it would be helpful to conduct an interview between two local experts—me and myself. So:

Is there any way to play Pebble without spending five bills?
Yes, join the Northern California Golf Association. A couple times a year they have specials where members can play Pebble for around $350, with big discounts at Spyglass and Spanish Bay, too. Other offers include discounted tickets to the Crosby Clambake, dirt cheap greens fees at Poppy Hills and other goodies. Plus you can maintain your handicap and play in regional tournaments.

OK, what if I’m willing to pay full price but don’t want to spring for a room at the Lodge or Spanish Bay– can I still get a tee time in advance?
Supposedly those who don't book a room can only reserve a tee time 24 hours in advance, but I've heard plenty of stories that when the occupancy is a bit low or the tee sheet is somewhat open - which has been happening with some regularity since the Great Recession - the resort reservationists will bend the rules. Call 800-654-9300 and commence sweet-talking. You can also just show up the morning you want to play and put your name on the starters’ wait list. You’d be surprised how many folks sneak onto the course this way every day. It works best as a single or twosome, but during my days as an occasional starter we sometimes got a whole foursome out. [ Fat Guy Note :  I tried the waiting list route once back in 1997 and waited in line for a day and half without getting out--including being first on the list from 5AM until Noon.  Granted this was at the height of the Tiger golf boom of the '90's, but you are taking a chance .]  You can’t tip the starter in advance – that would be bribery! – but a nice thank you is always appreciated.

What’s the best time of year, weather-wise?
The area enjoys a blissful Indian summer September-November . This is definitely the high-season. Spring is usually nice, too. June and July tend to be the foggiest months.

Where else should I play while I’m in town?
Municipally-owned Pacific Grove Golf Links is one of my favorite little courses, a nice, brisk walk with a great variety of holes and a spectacular back-nine stretch among the dunes. With greens fees around $50 it’s a poor man’s Pebble. Spyglass Hill is awesome, but very pricey. Bayonet is just as good a layout but a quarter the price. The greens at Bayo are a little extreme and there have been some turf issues but it’s definitely worth playing. Alister MacKenzie’s Pasatiempo is a must-play, well worth the 50 minute drive north to Santa Cruz. It’s an artful layout with some really wild terrain. Poppy Hills has gotten a bad rap through the years – it’s a really good track with a peaceful forest setting. If you wanna warm up head into Carmel Valley, where the sun is always shining. Both Quail Lodge Golf Club and Carmel Valley Ranch are fun, sporty, scenic courses.

Where should I eat while I’m in town?
(romantic vibe), Café Fina (fresh seafood), Fandango (eclectic cuisine), Peppers (nuevo Mexican), Katie’s Place (for breakfast), Bistro Moulin (sophisticated European grub), Gianni’s (for pizza), Pacific’s Edge (fine-dining with an amazing view), Dametra Café (lively atmosphere), Cantinetta Lucca (awesome Italian), 1833 (cool crowd), Red’s Donuts (no explanation needed).

God help me, my wife wants to rub elbows with celebrities during the week of the Clambake. Where do we go?
Hang out at the Tap Room , the gloriously atmospheric bar/restaurant adjacent to the front door of the Lodge. Or at Mission Ranch , the rustic retreat in Carmel where a lot of the celebs stay. The guy who owns the joint, Clint Eastwood, has been known to set up shop at the piano.

Watching the tournament telecast I’ve fallen in love with Monterey Peninsula Country Club but don’t know any members – is there any prayer of playing it?
Actually, yes. The day after the Clambake ends MPCC hosts a pro-am for the Boys & Girls Club, and anyone can play so long as they plunk down the (tax-deductible) $1,500. Call the club (831-373-1556) for details.

Can you get me on Cypress Point?
I dispense advice, not miracles."


Fat Guy says:  I've never played it and you've seen the old gal on TV at the AT&T for years, so I won't try to wow you with any flowery descriptions.  Instead, here's some fun history and facts on Pebble from Golf Digest 5/10.

-The spot where Tom Watson chipped in on 17 to propel him to win the 1982 U.S. Open over Jack Nicklaus is no longer there.

Later that same year, a winter storm caused a huge chunk of the 17th green and 18th tee to slide into the Pacific.  The seawall was patched and the 17th green surrounds were backfilled and re-sodded, but the precise elevation of the spot of Watson's chip-in could not be duplicated.

-The classic par-5 18th hole that defines Pebble Beach was an afterthought.

The original 1919 routing by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant featured a 325-yard par-4 18th that stopped short of a deep ravine.  Their proposed oceanside tee box to stretch the hole to 379 yards wasn't built due to lack of funds. In April 1921, Pebble founder Samuel Morse was stung by a California Golf Association criticism that Pebble had a "woefully poor finishing hole".  Morse brought in British golf architect W. Herbert Fowler, who designed the famed finishing hole by filling in the deep ravine behind the green, building a seawall, and back-filling a new green location some 170 yards farther up the shoreline, turning the hole into a boomerang-shaped par-5.  Bunkers, trees, and the seaside tee have been added or changed since, but the 18th remains as Fowler designed it 90 years ago.

-John Daly, partially due to heavy fog, made a 14 on the 18th during the 2000 U.S. Open to shoot 83, and promptly withdrew from the tournament.

-Pebble founder Samuel Morse was such a cheapskate that sheep were originally used to "mow" Pebble's fairways .  They damaged greens and soon ended up on the menu.

-The line most often quoted when describing Pebble Beach, "the greatest meeting of land and sea", came from landscape painter Francis McMomoas but is often erroneously attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, and was actually penned about Point Lobos farther down the coast.

-Pebble's original Neville/Grant routing had square impossibly-contoured greens, too many ravines, terrible conditions, and barely measured 6,000 yards.  It was openly criticized after an inagural pro preview event. Morse panicked.  Over the next decade, there is evidence of design changes by Harold Sampson (the pro at Morse's other course, Del Monte), McComas, Fowler, Donald Ross, and Alister Mackenzie, to become the revered course it is today.

-The first housing lot sold on the course, overlooking Stillwater Cove, cost just $6,000 in 1915.

-The par-3 5th hole was long considered the weakest hole at Pebble, 180-yards threaded between trees and over a ravine.  Pebble Beach Co. spent $8 million to buy a neighboring house and hired Jack Nicklaus to design a new 5th hole , which took 3 years to build and debuted in 1998.

The new par-3 5th hole

-The USGA's Mike Davis suggested changes to #s 4,6,8,9 and 10 to shift the fairways closer to the cliffs to bring the ocean back into play , in preparation for Pebble's hosting of the 2010 U.S. Open.  These, along with the new 5th hole, are the most significant and challenging routing changes to Pebble Beach in the last 80 years.

- Pebble Beach Head Golf Pro Laird Small's tip for playing Pebble :  Plot your way around.  Know your game and your swing, your tendencies, and your pressure bail spots, and play to those.  Learn a running pitch shot by minimizing the wrist angles in your swing.  When oceanside, trick your mind into thinking you've already jacked one O.B and this second shot barely matters for a lower pressure swing.  Avoid big-course-huge-green-fee jitters by concentrating on keeping your swing tempo slow, and downshift to a 3/4 backswing with a full finish if you have trouble slowing down.  Start reading Pebble's subtle greens at 30 yards out.  On the green, determine where the low side is, and walk to a spot on the lowside halfway between the ball and the hole to get a read, then observe the area around the cup.


Best Bar Nearby: Try both of the bars in The Lodge at Pebble Beach: Club XIX , or The Tap Room , named as one of Golf Magazine's 2003 "50 Coolest Places In Golf" and Golf Dige st's 2008 50 Best 19th Holes list. "The Tap Room might be the 'most famous 19th hole in golf'; exhibits memorabilia from numerous U.S. Opens, Bing Crosby National Pro-Ams and other professional tournaments; wood-paneled room has a fantastic scotch and wine collection, and the menu is 'way better than bar food'; order the whole-roasted garlic." The most atmosphere of any 19th hole in the country, and the perfect place to recount your pilgrimmage to the ultimate public links. Check out the photos of pros and celebs from the Crosby Clambake era, as well as pix of Tiger at the '00 U.S. Open. Last call is usually around 11. OR, Golf Magazine says Stillwater Bar & Grill on premisis serves sublime seafood and a great AT&Tini (get it?) made of vodka, orange juice, and a splash of champagne ($12). T&L Golf recommends The Mucky Duck (831-655-3031) in Monterey. For a nightcap, pop into Jack London's Bar & Grill (831-624-2336, $) in Carmel, a favorite of players and caddies (who put on an ALS fund-raiser here each year during tournament week in memory of Bruce Edwards). I've also read good online recommendations for Crown & Anchor (150 W Franklin, Monterey), serving good wings and chowder.

Fat Guy recommends Blue Fin Cafe & Billiards (685 Cannery Row, 408-375-7000).

Where To Grub: For a good steakhouse, T&L Golf recommends Rio Grill in Carmel (831-625-5436). Jim Furyk recommends Sardine Factory for seafood, while Rocco Mediate likes it for the lamb. David Toms goes for Forge In The Forest for the house specials, and Jeff Sluman always hits Mondo's Trattoria for lasagna. If you're feeling touristy, try the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company , spawned, of course, from "Forest Gump" fame. T&L Golf and CBS' on-air boys like Casanova Restaurant (831-625-0501, $$$$) for a festive dinner in Carmel, a preferred spot among players and celebs. The menu carries echoes of Italy and Southern France, the wine cellar holds 30,000 bottles and has won numerous awards, and the dress code is California casual.

What To Read Before You Go: Pebble Beach: Golf and the Forgotten Men by Jerry Stewart
If your tastes run more toward public courses, there's no doubt that the gold standard is Pebble Beach. Stewart's volume about the caddies at Pebble ($25, Sports Media Group) does for the California course what Clayton does for Augusta National. After reading this comprehensive book, you'll know more about Pebble Beach than most of the folks in the surrounding multi-million dollar mansions do.

Party at Pebble!
Join the fun at the rollicking AT&T Pro-Am

by Andy Brumer, T&L GOLF JAN 2006

You've watched it on television for years, this cocktail party–cum–sporting event, a Monterey tradition renewed every February in the spirit of Bing Crosby, its original host. The Pro-Am spots are already filled—try asking Vijay or Phil a little sooner next year—but tickets are still available for the entire week. So why not make a long weekend of it? You just might rub shoulders on the course or bend elbows at the bar with the likes of Bill Murray, Samuel L. Jackson or Clint Eastwood (the former mayor in these parts).

Tickets and Viewing Tips
Tickets: Season badge (good for all practice and tournament rounds): $120 before February 5; $150 after. 800-541-9091, .
Getting to the course: There are shuttles to Pebble Beach from California State University at Monterey Bay, but a more appealing option is to park at Carmel Beach and walk along the sand for a little over a mile to a ticket gate near the eighteenth green.

Hot Spots: A great vantage point is on a little hill to the right of the third green, from where you can also see tee shots off four and seventeen and approaches into sixteen. The best bleachers are left of the eighth green, overlooking the ninth tee and Carmel Bay.

Trip Planner
When: February 6–12, 2006
Where: Pebble Beach, California

Playing: After a few days of watching the pros, you'll be itching to swing a club yourself. Head to Bayonet Golf Course (831-899-7271, ), a former military course in nearby Seaside that's such a fine test, tournament officials considered adding it to the rotation (which also includes Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills ). A word of advice: At Bayonet and its sister course, Black Horse, the holes play longer than they read on the card due to the heavy sea air.

See also: