If you consider yourself a true golfer, then it is imperative that you play Pebble Beach at least once during your lifetime. While I have watched the pros play it on television and walked the course during the 2000 U.S. Open, it is nothing like actually playing the course. The course, even though it was built in 1919, is still a test for any level of golfer. As a bonus, there are great views of the ocean on most of the holes. They allow non-playing spouses to ride with you, which allow you to capture everything via camera. However, don’t spend too much time checking out the scenery, because the marshals will be on you in a flash to make sure you are keeping time. So long as you keep the round to 4.5 to 5 hours, they will leave you alone. After all, you will want to slow down some from your normal golfing pace to enjoy yourself and get your money’s worth, but hopefully not through additional stokes. And once you get to the 7th hole tee box, you will not want to leave.
The front nine of Pebble Beach is tougher than the back nine due to the proximity to the ocean. But stay alert, because the back nine holes can jump up and bite you if you do not pay attention to the proper club selection. As a general rule, always take an extra club in those instances where the back nine holes are uphill. There usually is not too much trouble behind the green, but plenty of trouble for being short.
1) Start your day with breakfast at The Lodge and enjoy the scenery of the 18th hole and Stillwater Cove. It’s a rather pricey meal, but well worth the price of admission to enjoy the scenery.
2) If you are in a rush to catch a plane after the round but wish to take a shower, visit the Beach Club near the 17th hole, which is accessible by car.
3) Make sure you buy the scorecard memorabilia from the golf shop so that you can show off the great round you had to your buddies. If your round wasn’t so great, you can settle for the Pebble Beach logo ball.
4) If possible, hang around The Lodge until dusk and listen for the bagpipes, a great ending to a memorable day.
The price of the round is a steep at $400, and escalating to $425 on April 1, 2005. Who knows how high the rate will climb over time. I remember the rate being around $200 in the early 1990s. I took advantage of their Winter Special, which is viewable on the Pebble Beach website and available through April 30 of 2005. The Winter Special includes two nights of accommodation at either the Pebble Beach Lodge or the Inn at Spanish Bay and two rounds of golf at Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay/or Spyglass (all of which are owned by the same company). The rates for the special are stated on the website.
If you only want to play Pebble Beach and stay at a more affordable lodging alternative, I would suggest staying in Monterey or Carmel, which are just a few miles from Pebble Beach. Monterey offers more family-oriented activities, while Carmel is a heaven for the true shopper, especially someone shopping for original paintings and other artwork. I can’t remember ever seeing so many galleries crammed into such a small area. Monterey includes more traditional hotel and motel alternatives and Carmel is loaded with bed-and-breakfasts, with more interesting restaurant alternatives than Monterey. If you have time, don’t miss taking the 17-mile drive around Pebble Beach or going 30 minutes south of Carmel on Highway 1 to see Big Sur. Big Sur is loaded with great views and the opportunity to drive over the bridges you see in all the automobile commercials.
The Pebble Beach website offers great directions to get there from either the Monterey or San Jose airports. From the San Jose airport, Pebble Beach is approximately a 1.5-hour drive.