Pebble Beach

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#1     Ninth hole

There are only five holes at Pebble where you don't see the ocean. The ninth is not one of them. It puts the beach in Pebble Beach. That alone would make it an attractive hole, but several other natural assets makes it an incredible one:  30 feet of elevation to create the ideal vantage point, a concave shoreline so it is visible for miles, Big Sur hills in the background, stunning white sand with jagged rocks, and enough open water to produce a CGI-perfect surf. James Cameron couldn't do better. The hole itself is a fitting hood ornament - refined, polished, and an impeccable design. The gaping mouth-like bunker in front is a master touch to the finest of natural settings.            


#2     Tenth hole

The tenth is a close sibling of the ninth. It also runs along the beach, so you keep checking if you brought swimwear. Interestingly, its most dramatic views may be looking back toward the rest of the course, either from the fairway or at the hole. From there, you see the whole course and coastline back to the small peninsula with the sixth and seventh holes, and the eighth tee. Wisely, this long stretch of the course is treeless with one brilliant exception - the lone tree at the top of the peninsula. Probably the suggestion of a construction crew member to leave it or plant it, the genius of this touch surely soon had many competing authors.  


#3     Fourth hole

After the first three inland holes at Pebble, you get a glimpse of the ocean at the third hole and while walking to the fourth tee. However, this tee is enclosed by trees and homes, so the ocean disappears for a minute. Who lives along Pebble Beach?  There are actually 46 homes along the course - read about them here.  An 11,000 square foot home was listed for $29 M in '10. Almost three grand a square foot. Whoa.    

Walking out on to the fairway brings the ocean back. As the course is also treeless here, the ocean is in high def.  The arrowhead peninsula (its shape from above) is again the star attraction. The view shifts every few feet as the shoreline constantly changes its terrain like a skilled runway model. Since this side of the course is on Stillwater Cove, the surf is not as pounding - a better harbor for boats, of which there are naturally quite a few. Little known is there is a beach club right off the fourth fairway with a very in-reach membership.  


#4     Seventeenth green & eighteenth tee

After the last inland holes at fifteen and sixteen, the seventeenth tee brings you back to the shore. With a flat, treeless landscape with only water as a back drop, the seventeenth hole is nondescript from the tee. Up close and personal reveals its beauty. This spot also unveils a third and very different view of the arrowhead peninsula and Stillwater Cove. This is golf in the round, and there's not a bad seat in the house. Where else can you enjoy so many different views of a specific setting? This puts the best online shopping sites to shame.   

The eighteenth tee continues these views, and adds in a rock shelf and wild life. A little ways up the eighteenth fairway provides a last glimpse back, with the rocks extending around the corner. You can see the aircraft deck shape of the eighteenth tee best from there.


#5     Sixth green & seventh hole

Sitting on top of a good size hill, the highest elevation on the course, the sixth hole provides very nice views both back down the hill toward the fifth and fourth hole and beyond, and forward to the the long coast line with holes eight through ten. It's also the best place to view the short seventh hole, much better than the seventh tee. Walking down to the seventh green, the hole is like a ship out of water in low tide where you see all the barnacles and plant growth on its hull. The seventh green is a nice beach deck sitting out over the bay.  


#6     Thirteenth & fourteenth fairways

The thirteenth and fourteenth fairways are the upper decks of Pebble. They are parallel to the ninth and sixth holes, and provide a dramatic, elevated view of this whole area of the course. These may be the only balcony seats in the world that could charge more than the lower level ones.


#7     Eighth green

The famous eighth is most compelling at the hole. The noteworthy second shot over a chasm to the hole - Jack's favorite second shot in golf - is not that scenic with a bland background and homes marring the scene. Looking back at the cliff from the hole is more memorable, along with the view of the upcoming shoreline. There's also a terrific opposite angle view of the seventh. It's more clear from this vantage how low this hole is, barely sitting above the water.   


Final thoughts

Pebble is like a historic baseball stadium where every seat is so close to the action and history abounds. You are not watching the game, you are in the game.  Is there any place else with so many holes along the water or with wonderful ocean views? Mix in majestic beaches and California hills tumbling into the sea, and it's quite a bit to take in. And one of the nicest resort towns in the world sits right next door.   

Also like an old baseball stadium, it showcases the best of an earlier era with a traditional design and very manicured condition. This is a walk in an English garden, not a hike in Yosemite. Such places never go out of style, but they do have a different feel and appeal than the current generation of natural, minimalist courses. You're certain there's a dress code of plus fours and tam-o-shanters.

Don't miss

  • Row of great golf shops across from the Pebble Beach lodge, including the pro shop
  • Eating a meal at the Tap Room in the lodge
  • Eating breakfast in the Stillwater Grill overlooking the eighteenth
  • Driving along 17 mile drive