Golf courses of the world: #5 Pebble Beach Golf Links

Published 19/03/2010 08:27:50

Host to many US Open Championships and US Amateur Championships, Pebble Beach is one of the greatest championship courses around. Unusually for a US course, it's public - anyone can play on it. Of course you'd need deep pockets and plenty of patience to play this monster.


Monterey Peninsula

There had been a luxury hotel, the Del Monte, near Monterey since 1880 and shortly after that 17 Mile Drive was opened, giving the public access to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

A 9-hole course opened in 1897, and in 1917 Samuel Morse was hired by the then landowners to develop the area for them. He, in turn hired Jack Neville, Douglas Grant and H.Chandler to lay out a golf course worthy of such a site.

Pebble Beach Golf Links opened for play in 1919.


In those days this was quite a remote part of California, air travel was relatively primitive and the area became a quiet retreat for the wealthy of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Holding the 1929 US Amateur at Pebble was quite a bold step for the USGA to take at the time.

However the even was a success and it brought the great Bobby Jones to town which in turn led to his appointing Alister MacKenzie to help him build Augusta National. Incidentally MacKenzie made alterations to the 8th and 13th greens at Pebble in 1926.


Glorious coast holes

Today, Pebble Beach is part of an extraordinary complex of the top-level golf courses, hotels, lodges and retaurants. It is certainly not remote any longer and bookings are taken years in advance. 

Although the course has been lengthened a little, not much has changed since it was first opened. For many years the course moved inland at the 5th hole, a short one through the trees. However, in 1998 a new 5th hole alongside the sea was opened, to a design by Jack Nicklaus.

So now the course hits the shoreline on the short par-4 4th and hugs it all the way back to the 10th green, one of the most exciting stretches of seaside golf imaginable.

The sequence of two-shot holes from the 8th to the 10th is both very demanding and also scenically distracting. However it is the diminuitive 7th, a par 3 of only 106 yards to a tiny green standing on the rocks at the water's edge, that is one of the most photographed holes in golf, and an absolute siren to play.


Watson's magic

If there is a tinge of regret moving inland at the 11th, it only serves to make the break out onto the shore at the 17th the more memorable, for this is a demanding short hole on which Tom Watson played one of the US Open's greatest shots in snatching the 1982 championship from Jack Nicklaus.

And Pebble keeps one of its finest holes for last, the gorgeous par 5 on which the merest pull finds the ball amongst the clams and oysters on the rocks.


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1.  I'd give my right nut to play here! Sadly I think I'll never get the chance with two kids!

comment by UK golfer - 19/03/2010 08:47

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