Crossing one off the bucket list: Pebble Beach Golf Links
December 25, 2010
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play Pebble Beach on Christmas Eve of this year. Though it is our aim to review courses that the average joe will be able to play, this is one that every golfer must play before they leave for the putting green in the sky. I’ll spare you the play-by-play and leave you with a recommendation: go play Pebble. There really are no words to describe this place. JK describes Augusta as a place that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I’d say the same about the Old Course. I can confidently say that Pebble Beach fits that very same description. It truly is one of those “religious experiences” for a golfer. The price tag is daunting, but I assure you that as soon as you step up the first tee, you will not regret it. The course was very playable, even when wet, so don’t fear the winter season (usually with better rates than normal $499). One critical recommendation: take a caddie. The caddie fee at Pebble is $75 with a suggested gratuity between $35-50 depending on service. I was lucky to have one of the most experienced caddies in Pebble’s stable. Larry had just cleared 5,000 rounds in March and has caddied at Pebble for 15 years. He was able to provide some great local knowledge (especially around the greens) that proved invaluable. Larry also knew all the good places to take pictures and made sure to point out all the spots on the course where a memorable moment from the tour took place.
I had a difficult decision to make right at the get-go: which tees to play. My goal going into the round was to have a good time and enjoy myself. After all, this was my present for passing the bar exam. I decided on playing the gold tees rather than the 2010 U.S. Open tees on recommendation from the Starter and my caddie. Though it really doesn’t matter what tees you play at this course, I occasionally found myself wishing I’d played the Open Tees just to be able to say I’d played a U.S. Open course. To this effect, I played the 8th Hole from the U.S Open Tee. What a beautiful hole. Though my first ball cleared the gap (just barely), I hit a couple of extra balls just to re-live the experience in the moment. There may be no greater second shot in golf. The only decision I truly regret about my day is hitting Driver on 1. Hybrid next time. No need for anything longer.
I’ll leave you with one story from my trip. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The wind was blowing between 15-17 mph constantly with gusts between 25-30mph. As we rounded the 16th green to the 17th tee, a slight gust picked up. Larry suggested a full five or knock-down 4 into the front right-hand pin position. I teed the ball and rehearsed a nice smooth knock-down swing. I stepped off the shot because a group of tourists began yelling at their small child who wanted to come see what was going on. I aimed about 3 yards right of the edge of the green and trusted my draw to bring the ball back to the green. I hit the ball a little thin and a rocket took off straight toward the flag. Here’s the resulting second shot that I thankfully holed for a nice tweeter on 17:
I recall there being another not-so-perfect swing that resulted in an important kick-in birdie at 17 during a U.S. Open… One day… (for those of you who are not up on your golf history, click here)
The signature 7th hole. Shortest hole in U.S. Open history and the site of a beautiful LG par. (knock-down 9-iron to a back right hole location. missed the 14 footer for birdie by the roll of the poa; next time, no taking chances, slam it into the back of the cup.)
View from the 8th Hole vista
A look back up the 18th from the fairway. Rated the best finishing hole in the world by anyone that plays golf.