Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach (1920), California

This is a place I had really been looking forward to visiting and I was really excited. It has so much history and is a world-renowned course that I think most keen golfers would love to play one day. A public course that is obviously very busy with green fee guest and visitors in general. During my visit there was several busses with guests arriving just to see the place and visit the stores.

I visited in April 2014 and I didn’t book in advance but went there a day before my planned tee off and enquired about tee times. That was no problem, especially being a single player and I chose a tee time next morning joining a 3 ball. My wife and I had lunch in the restaurant the day before in the clubhouse overlooking the 18th. Spectacular view….

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Maybe its just me, but the place really feels special and you get a sense of the heritage immediately. The only thing I would say is that it is very busy and obviously a money machine with numerous merchandising stores that are packed with great items for any person to get tempted – including myself who stocked up on several items.

I arrived well it advance the next morning to get some practice and get the most out of my visit. The range was already well occupied with players and staff that helpfully ensured your clubs were taken care off, cleaned and transported to the 1st tee.

short game area
short game area

I was teamed up with a group of Austrilian’s that were staying there for some days and then going to watch The Masters at Augusta, pretty good way to spend some time with the friends if you ask me. We all had caddies which for me was a good choice. One thing is the advice you get on lines and greens, but for me it was the freedom of walking around and getting the most out of the whole experience without thinking about carrying a bag, cleaning clubs, etc.. I probably took more than 100 pictures.

photo

The 1st hole is pretty straight forward dogleg right where I decided to play safe and hit a good straight tee shot that went a bit too far and was blocked behind a tree so I had to play safe and on the green in 3 and eventually a bogey.

2nd hole
2nd hole

2nd is a reachable par 5, at least I thought that was going to be my way to play it. I hit my drive just left in the rough and had 205 yards to the green, but hit a poor shot that came up short. Hit another poor shot and was on in 4 shots on what should have been an relatively easy par 5. Another bogey….

3rd hole - Par 4, 356m
3rd hole – Par 4, 356m

A good dogleg left with plenty of bunkers in the landing area. Like most doglegs you need to decide on how agressive you want to be. I hit a good drive over the left hand bunker and left myself a wedge to the green.

approach to 3rd
approach to 3rd

First real look at the ocean and was a great sight especially in weather like this. My 2nd shot was the right distance, but on the righthand side of the green. I 3 putted for another bogey and not really the start I was hoping for.

4th, 298m par 4
4th, 298m par 4

4th is a short par 4 slight uphill where you tee off between some trees. That gives a nice touch to the hole and it is really well bunkered and requires accuracy instead of length. My tee shot caught the left hand bunker, but I managed to recover well and got on in 2. My first par of the day.

4th green
5th green

Medium length par 3 with bunker front a back and no missing it right. Good hole and another par for me.

6th hole - par 5, 462m
6th hole – par 5, 462m

This is an interesting hole a real risk/reward par 5.

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I hit one of my best drives here and had about 190m to the pin. My caddie advised me not to go for the green as it is a blind shot uphill and too much at risk. I would normally go for most possibilities like this but decided to follow his advice. Played up short and walked away with a par.

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Looking back down 6th fairway and you get a feeling for the elevation on this hole.

6th green
6th green

 

 

Par 3, 7th
Par 3, 7th

This must be one of the most photographed par 3’s in the world and we had a beautiful day in perfect conditions. I have played this hole hundreds of times in the simulator at home and it was amazing to be standing there in real life. It was playing 80m downhill and slightly downwind which was a 60 degree for me. Hit the middle of the green and actually had a realistic birdie opportunity which I didn’t make. Truly a fantastic experience for a golf fanatic like myself.

8th hole, par 4, 390m
8th hole, par 4, 390m

This is one of my favourite holes on the course. It is a semi blind tee shot and my caddie recommended to play a 6 iron from the tee which I did.

approach to 6th
approach to 6th

The tee shot left me a 5 iron to the green and the view is just stunning. I hit a perfect 5 iron with a draw into the middle of the green and made par.

9th hole
9th hole

9th is a long par 4 downhill and requires a good drive preferably down the fairway so you can get some decent roll forward. I hit my drive in the left hand rough. I missed my second shot left, but managed to get up and down. I shot 39 after the first 9 holes and hit almost 70% GIR. Pretty good front nine after the 3 bogeys to begin with.

10th green
10th green

Another good par 4 running along the ocean. I missed the fairway on the tee shot and went in the greenside bunker on my approach. Bad bogey to start with on the back nine.

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One of the amazing houses and this one very close to the water and carmel beach behind it.

Look

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Looking back down the par 4 11th a the amazing view of the ocean. It is a short par 4 uphill, but the green is tricky. You need to be accurate.

House behind 11th
House behind 11th
Par 3 12th
Par 3 12th

A relatively long par 3 with really good protection by bunkers. Very big bunker in front of the green and it takes a good shot to hit the green and keep it there. I missed short in the bunker and walked away with another bogey.

13th hole, Par 4, 368m
13th hole, Par 4, 368m

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Some of the property running along the par 5 14th. According to the caddies the owners are not allowed to remove or cut down trees without approval. Initial they were fined if doing so without approval, but that didn’t have any effect so instead they get prosecuted now.

Looking back down 14th
Looking back down 14th

My 3rd shot was long on the 14th and a really messed up my score with a 7 on the hole.

15th tee
15th tee

Beautiful tee shot on this par 4 on 362m. Bunkers on the left, but otherwise pretty straight forward.

16th green
16th green

16th is a downhill par 4 to a green with huge bunkers that you want to avoid. I missed the green long from the fairway and made bogey.

17th
17th

A mid iron par 3, but pending on the pin position it can be pretty difficult. The green is narrow and any inaccurate tee shots will be in the bunkers which is where I went.

18th tee
18th tee

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18th green
18th green

A finishing hole like 18th on Pebble Beach doesn’t become much better. 496m par 5 slight dogleg left along the ocean. What a way to finish…. A hit my drive right of the fairway being to afraid of the water. My second shot was really good and my 3rd was even better given me a good birdie chance that just lipped out. 18th was my only par on the back nine and even though that was satisfying the back nine was disappointing. 6 bunker shots and only 1 GIR even though I hit the same amount of fairways as the front nine.

I think my 85 can be improved and in any case I am coming back to play the course again. The greens were not great as they just maintained them a week earlier and I would like to try the course in even better shape to get the full experience of hopefully fast and firm greens.

What surprised me the most about the course is that it doesn’t play that difficult. I thought it was going to be much harder and obviously the weather has a big influence on this, but still it is playable and you can get around in a decent score without your A game.
score

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