THE GRAND PEBBLE
Pebble Beach is a contradiction to the popular idiom "there are plenty more pebbles on the beach". There is no substitute for Pebble Beach which is long and rightfully considered one of the grandest pebbles in the golf world.
Pebble Beach origins date back to 1880 under the vision of Charles Crocker. The Hotel del Monte was the first development on this marvelous complex with a nine hole course, The Del Monte Course, that opened in 1897 and was later extended to a 18 hole course in 1903. While golf was an attraction of the property the "17 Mile Drive" was major selling point providing a breathtaking scenic drive through Monterey, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. To clarify by drive we mean a horse drawn carriage day long adventure.
Pebble Beach was opened in 1919 with free course design by two amateurs Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. The legendary figure 8 routing was established to maximize the number of holes along the coastline. The property has changed hands several times and the course has also undergone updates throughout the years. Famous names involved in the course updates include Alistar Mackenzie and most recently Jack Nicklaus. Another fun fact about ownership is the current owners Pebble Beach Company was formed under a limited partnership interest with key partners including Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood and Peter Ueberroth. The intention of the Pebble Beach purchase was to ensure the property wouldn't continue to change hands and the heritage and traditions of the property were upheld for future generations to enjoy. They have also been trying unsuccessfully to expand the "Del Monte Forest Plan" with a new course and housing development.
Nearly immediately after Pebble opened it received worldwide recognition as a premier golf course. Pebble has hosted five US Opens amongst with the sixth coming in 2019 and a seventh in 2027. It also has an annual PGA tour stop and has hosted a long list of other notable tournaments. It is also now part of an elite group of courses that include Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Del Monte Golf Course and Links at Spanish Bay.
Pebble is a public course but it requires a hefty check ($550) to gain access to the first tee and desired tee times often require purchase of a complete resort package. Your best bet if you want to pass on the resort package is to play as a single and select dates with lower demand including the offseason and holidays.
The nerves may be a bit jittery on the first tee with onlookers and dream course anxiety pumping the adrenaline. Step back and take a moment breath with a few smooth jazz practice swings that you can simple repeat when in striking position. The good news is isn't a long or difficult hole so smashed pure shot is not necessary. You will quickly find the relaxed state of mind when walking to your tee shot and observing the peaceful and stunning setting.
Pebble is a "target" golf course with narrow fairways and greens based on modern standards. That being said it isn't tight and errant shots are normally still in play. The course is beautifully manicured and the majestic coastal views are unparalleled. The rich and famous mansions linning several holes are also enjoyable sightseeing.
The courses primary defenses are small greens and wind. The greens and approaches are also inconsistent likely due to poa annua and heavy play (~60K rounds a year).
Holes seven through ten are arguable best consecutive grouping of holes a player will experience. There are other exceptional and highly acclaimed holes, and candidly ordinary holes but nothing that disappoints.
To score well try your best to keep your mind in the game and not distracted from endless array of stunning visuals. It is a target course so utilize course management to stay on ideal lines for easier and well positioned approaches to the smaller green complexes.
A caddie is a worthwhile investment to help with lines, reads and distances that can't be accurately gauged by first time eyes. Golf carts are permitted but its path only so plan on regular long walks to and from your ball. Unfortunately, carts can't be utilized as a time savings measure due to slow play discussed below.
It is also important to keep in mind and set expectations the round will be slow. As stated above it is heavily played due to its golf meca stature and it attracts all levels of golfers who want to cross it off their bucket list and take plenty of pictures. The Old Course at St Andrews has a similar slow pace although I noticed the caddies have a wee bit more hustle in pushing play potentially due to what appeared to be regular course marshal oversight.
WYLD1 puts high emphasis on the complete golf experience which factors in the role of nature in the course makeup. The stunning views and specifically the coastal front holes are unbelievable helping elevate it to one of the golf untouchables.
GO BIG HOLES
2, 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 18