Review: Pebble Beach Golf Links, CA

Well Deserved #1 Public Course
Almost every course ranking list in the world puts Pebble Beach Golf Links as the #1 Public Course to play.  There are always critics who claim others are better, or if you moved this course to a different location it wouldn’t be as highly ranked.  After playing Pebble Beach its #1 ranking is well deserved.  There isn’t a course that can compare with the beauty, majesty, history and lure of Pebble Beach.  It has one of the best locations of any course in the world and has a storied history that is only rivaled by the Old Course.  The other criticism of Pebble Beach is that it is very expensive, but as someone who is always looking for a deal, I’d pay full price again to play Pebble Beach, it is that awesome.
I’d like to walk you through my experience of playing Pebble Beach.  I was able to secure the 1st tee-time on a Tuesday morning in November.  If there isn’t fog, this is the best way to go, you get to set the pace on a course that is known for long rounds.  I can see why, it is hard to play fast when all you want to do is look around and soak it all in, as well as, figuring out how to score on a fairly tough course (depending on the tees).  I was able to play the tips since my single-digit handicap was just low enough to  go all the way back.  If you don’t have the game, don’t go back there, it will just ruin your round and potentially the rounds of those after you.

The first tee is just steps away from the pro shop and be prepared to have an audience, I would guess it doesn’t matter what time of day you are playing, you better be ready to hit in front of other golfers.  We had a large crowd, as at least 4 foursomes were itching to get out.  Thankfully I striped it, right down the middle, there is no better way to start a round at Pebble Beach.  The first 3 holes are solid and basically they just get you warmed up for the next 6 holes which will offer stunning ocean views and obstacles.  There is not much to say about holes 4-9.  They are amazing and even better than what you’ve seen on TV.  Tough, intimidating and beautiful are just some of the words to describe this stretch of holes.

After getting through the greatest string of 5 holes in the world, the back 9 begins along the ocean for one last hole before you have to weave through the non-ocean holes for 6 holes.  Just because they aren’t near the water, doesn’t mean they are easy.  They are solid holes that will challenge every club in your bag.  It really comes down to avoiding the well placed bunkers on each hole.  The excitement builds as you near the spectacular hole 17.  It is any interesting ocean-side par 3.  It is just a mid iron, but the bunkering and small green puts a premium on accuracy.  This all gets you ready for the best finishing hole in golf.  A par 5 that wraps around the ocean.  As you do your best to finish strong, you’ll think of all the greats that have played here too, right in front of the majestic lodge.  It is even better when you can make it around Pebble Beach in just over 3 hours.

We did use carts, but since it is cart path only, I would suggest walking; Pebble is set up really well for walking.  If you can’t carry your bag for 18 holes, get a caddy, it isn’t much more walking and then you really can soak in the atmosphere.   Because it is cart path only, the course from tee to green is pristine, which is exactly what you would expect from such a course.  I did hear that as the day goes on, the green do get a little bumpier, but the crew gets them back to perfect each morning.

The other little details that staying in the lodge offers makes for an even better experience.  The rooms are huge and luxurious, the food is really good and even the use of a Lexus convertible to experience 17 mile drive added to the adventure.  You don’t need to stay on property to enjoy playing Pebble Beach, but if you are going to make this pilgrimage, just do it right.

I’d been uncertain if the high rankings of Pebble Beach and the cost would leave me disappointed, but instead I was blown away by how awesome Pebble Beach was and actually can’t wait to play it again(once I save up).  Yes, it isn’t cheap, but every golfer should set up a Pebble Beach fund until you have enough money to make the trip and enjoy the experience.  The #1 ranking is well deserved and it is worth the hefty green fees. 

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Quick Hits
+Well deserved #1 ranking
+Worth the cost
+So much history
+Incredible beauty
+Solid test of your game
+Accessible to anyone willing to pay

-Rounds can get long