The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Pebble Beach Golf Links
A symphony of cliffside fairways, picturesque ocean holes and crashing waves. Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula in northern California is understandably on every golfer’s bucket list
Suffice it to say, there’s no shortage of devoted golf vacationers who lay their head on the pillow each night dreaming of teeing up at this oceanside masterpiece.
Similar to the Old Course at St. Andrews, Pebble Beach is fairly forgiving from the tee. Unlike the large greens at the Old Course, however, the putting surfaces at Pebble are relatively tiny. The challenge comes in hitting the greens and sinking putts.
The early morning tee times are often open because many people think it will be too cold. However, that’s when the greens are freshly cut and they roll smooth and true. The Poa Annua greens tend to get bumpy later in the day so the early groups get unscathed putting surfaces for the entire round. Plus, the course might play a little faster, too. I prefer “first off”.
The high season at Pebble Beach Golf Links is from September to November when you have lots of Indian Summer days. Spring is also a popular time. June and July tend to be the foggiest months.
Carts are included, yet it’s a much better course to walk because the cart paths can be quite a distance from the fairways and the policy requires carts must always remain on the paths.
Be aware, the course you play on a typical “play and stay” round is quite different from the U.S. Open setup. Here are the differences: The second hole plays as a par 4 for the professionals and a par 5 for resort guests. The USGA narrows the fairways and grows the Rye grass rough about 4 inches high and it tends to stay wet from the evening fog. In a U.S. Open, the tees are set all the way back and the greens are stressed so they are fast and hard and nearly impossible to putt unless you’re a Tour pro.
While amazingly photogenic holes like No. 7, No. 17 and No. 18 grab most of the attention, the short par 4 fourth hole (326 yards) is one of the most fun to play. There are so many ways to strategize off the tee, but the tiny green has to be hit or you’re looking at a big number. Like most holes at Pebble, you must keep the ball below the hole because putting downhill is scary fast. Regardless of your potential score, when you reach the green, look backwards to the ocean because the view is breathtaking.
If you buy something to eat at the turn (10th tee and 13th tee) consume it quickly and don’t set it down or leave it in the cart because the hungry seagulls and crows are watching you and will strike within seconds of you walking away.
It’s a no brainer to stop and smell the roses (sea air, ocean spray, etc.) but don’t forget to marvel at the some of the amazing homes framing the course. Look at the massive house on the right of the 14th fairway. While you might assume it’s 10 to 12 bedroom house, it actually has only four bedrooms. There’s also beautiful home behind the 10th green that was once owned by actor Gene Hackman that sold for $29 million in 2015.
Golf course images by © Joan Dost–Umbrella image by Edward Schmidt