Pebble Beach, California (1919, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant)
Best known for its breathtakingly scenic U.S. Opens and the annual fun-filled February celebrity pro-am once called the Crosby, Pebble Beach tops the dream destination list of most golfers.
Set alongside the precious town of Carmel, Calif., on Stillwater Cove, the course wanders inland among megamansions before heading to the coast for the fourth through 10th holes. It comes back to Ritzville for 11 through 16 and then finishes with two great coastal holes. A photo at the 7th tee and one at the 18th tee make it a day to remember.
Many golfers schedule a special birthday here, or make a tee time as a reward for some achievement such as breaking 100. But we say if you haven’t broken 90 yet you might want to hold off on a Pebble Beach celebration.
Groomed as beautifully as any resort course, Pebble Beach nonetheless demands knowledge beyond that of the typical one-time dream player. There are tricks to success here – aim at a particular house on this hole, a particular tree on that, and whatever you do don’t go over the 14th green.
The average woman player can find success by not finding trouble, especially on the coastal holes. The caddie will give you a line on No. 8, but many will still have to lay up to get a makeable carry over to the fairway of this intimidating par 4.
As long as the crew has cut the fairways wide and long (unlike in a U.S. Open), the layout rewards decent ball striking, but once you reach the tiny greens, be ready to be confounded.
Though it can be cold and windy any time, the setting is beautiful in fog or sun, and the rainy season is usually gone by April well into October. There’s not a real clubhouse here: The Lodge serves as that, and gloriously so, with the golf-history-filled Tap Room supplying the GottaGoGolfer’s 19th hole.
Otherwise playing Pebble doesn’t feel as luxurious as the price – restrooms and turn are basic, service nothing special. And the long rounds – allot 5 ½ hours and hope you’re not overly optimistic – can disappoint those expecting golf as usual.
For $495, one expects at least a golf cart. But unless you’re staying at the resort, it doesn’t come with the green fee. A caddie – recommended the first time around, if only to fill in the long waits with some history lessons – will cost another $75 plus tip. But, there’s only one Pebble Beach, and for that, we’ll pay.
If we throw in all the amenities – the Lodge, the scenery, the shops, the Tap Room – we’d give Pebble Beach a Fab for Women label. But the elements, the rough and small greens make the golf course too hard for the no-better-than-average player, man or woman, to maneuver skillfully. Factor in the ridiculous price and pace, and we’ll settle for: Fine for Women.
This review first appeared in the Premiere edition of GottaGoGolf Magazine.