Just the name conjures up powerful images and thoughts, for both golfers and non-golfers alike. A few comments include:
- Neville and Grant deserve full credit for the routing of the course. However, H. Chandler Egan is the man most responsible for the course today. He replaced 16 of the 18 greens (leaving MacKenzie’s 8th and 13th greens untouched) and completely re-did the bunkering. The original aerial photos of the re-design show incredibly artistic imitation sand dunes. It is a pity they aren’t restored, at least around the 7th and 17th greens. Still, Egan’s redo is one of the great moments in the development of American architecture.
- Forget about 8, 9, and 10. You are going to pile up a bunch of strokes there no matter how well you play. The key to a good round at Pebble lies with the less known holes.
- Some people say the 18th is overrated – they grouse it is ‘a three wood, lay-up, wedge.’ Somewhere along the line those people have become far too analytical and/or jaded. The 18th at Pebble is the only finishing hole with as thrilling a walk as the home hole at St. Andrews. Both are birdieable and make ideal swing holes. Technology is actually making the 18th more fascinating with time as more and more professionals go for it in two.
- The incomparable setting takes the focus away from the smallest and most fiercely pitched greens of any US Open course.
- Nobody would design Pebble Beach the same way today. The greens would be much bigger to handle the resort play and to allow for the windy conditions. Original holes like the 6th would be gone forever in this false quest for ‘playability.’
- The 17th green once was 80% bigger in size and should be returned to its original version – the present version with a left flag position is far too much of a hit and hope shot. Egan did all he could to give the hole interest, considering it is on dead flat land. Still, it puzzles the authors how people consider this a ‘great’ hole under any circumstances.
- Some things have improved over time at Pebble, the new 5th being the most obvious. Also, on the 18th, the newly restored seawall and the widened bunker down the length of that wall also makes the second shot more strategic than in its original version.
- Pebble Beach is the hardest course for a first time visitor to play to his single digit handicap. Many people often site Pine Valley in this regard but its large fairways and greens can comfort the good player. At Pebble, even on a calm day, the player is faced with tiny targets and thick rough in a setting that is bound to distract.
- The 9th is as good as the 8th is dramatic.
- Anybody who suggests that the three shot holes at Muirfield are the better than here needs to have their head examined.
- The 4th through the 10th is the most inspired sustained stretch of golf in the world. If you didn’t have to limit it to one hole a course, the authors would pick more holes from Pebble Beach than any other course for our all time eclectic 18.
- Only the architect of Spyglass Hill would rate it remotely close to Pebble’s staggeringly superior design.
Despite everyone’s lofty expectations when they go there, Pebble Beach often exceeds them and that is truly amazing.