18 Things You Never Knew About Pebble Beach

Another AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is in the books, and if you're like us, you're probably dreaming of playing there (or playing there again).

Well, despite everything you've seen and heard about Pebble Beach, there is a lot of stuff you probably don't know.

Interesting stuff they never mention on the telecast...and important stuff your friends forget to tell you while showing off their snapshots.

Luckily for you, our network of "operatives" have been to Pebble Beach dozens of times.

Here's are some things you should know before you go...

On the history of Pebble Beach Golf Links...

1. It narrowly missed becoming a housing development. The land upon which it sits was originally carved up into dozens of small, 50’ x 100’ residential lots. It was Samuel Finley Brown Morse's idea to buy back the handful of lots that had been sold and instead build the golf course.

2. Pebble Beach Golf Links was an agronomy innovator. It was the first championship golf course in the United States to be constructed with tee-to-green underground irrigation.

3. It bent the rules during Prohibition. According to historian Neil Hotelling's book, "Pebble Beach Golf Links: The Official History," the “Canary Cottage” (originally located behind the fifth green) "provided a secluded setting, offering a variety of [gambling] games and, of course, good food and liquor. Its proximity to Stillwater Cove also made it a convenient place to receive, store, and dispense of the secretly imported liquor."

4. It has played a few different "roles" in Hollywood movies. Sometimes as the coast of England (in 1945's National Velvet), sometimes as itself (in 1951's Follow the Sun)...and once as a trophy acquisition for a major movie studio. According to Hotelling, in 1978, "Twentieth Century-Fox would use its profits from Star Wars to buy Pebble Beach Corporation."

5. It was briefly a private course. In an attempt to appease the USGA during the bid for the 1972 U.S. Open, Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1963 became "The Pebble Beach Golf Club," open only to hotel guests, members of a few nearby clubs, and certain local residents. Reverting to public access before its first U.S. Open was one of the best moves the course could have ever made. According to Hotelling, the successful event, shown on national television, "positioned Pebble Beach Golf Links in the unquestioned role as America's premier public access golf course...for the first time, anyone could play a U.S. Open course...The demand for tee times soared."

On playing Pebble Beach Golf Links...

6. The longer you wait, the longer your round. Unless you play Pebble Beach Golf Links early in the morning, be prepared for a long round. Between the greens that are hard to hit and all the photo-taking going on, it is almost always a longish round. The best advice is to just prepare for it and enjoy yourself. How often do you get to play Pebble Beach?

7. The approach shot on the 8th hole is one of the best in golf. You need to trust your caddie for the line from the tee to make sure you have a realistic chance at it. But to be honest, whenever we've been there, even if we've hit crummy tee shots, the temptation of that heroic carry over the chasm to that tiny green proves too great. Worst case scenario: you have a neat story about losing a ball in the ocean at "the 8th at Pebble."

On area courses not named "Pebble Beach Golf Links"...

8. The Del Monte Golf Course is better than you think. It's got history -- it's been in continuous operation since 1897, longer than any other course West of the Mississippi -- and it's a fun, not-too-difficult test. If you're looking for an less-expensive spot for a second round of the day, don't overlook it.

9. Ditto the nine-hole, par-3 Peter Hay course It's a wonderful place to spend an hour or so and work on your short game, which you'll need on the big courses.

10. You need not limit yourself to the resort's three main courses, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay, especially if you'll be staying in the area for a few days. If you've flown into San Francisco or San Jose, a round at Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz on your way in or out is a must. And the recent renovation work at Poppy Hills is well worth checking out, too. Lastly, a few miles inland, Quail Lodge, itself just renovated in the last couple years, is a sleeper of a course.

On some often-overlooked aspects of the experience...

11. Almost as special as the golf is the food at Pebble Beach. The Tap Room needs little introduction - the ribs in particular are second-to-none - and Roy's, at the Inn at Spanish Bay, is extremely underrated.

12. Pebble Beach might have one of the largest, single-course pro shops in golf, with the most comprehensive selection of merchandise we've ever seen.

On staying at Pebble Beach...

13. There may be no better hotel room in the USA for a golf fanatic than an ocean-view room at The Lodge — oh, that view (and a real wood burning fireplace)!

14. Tipping isn't allowed. Yes, Pebble Beach is expensive, but one thing you don't need to budget for is gratuities. Staff members are instructed not to accept them.

15. The best pure accommodations may be Casa Palmero. Pebble's Lodge and the Inn usually get all the attention, but Casa Palmero is awesome, especially if you're looking for a romantic getaway. The adjacent spa might be the Pebble Beach of the spa world.

On other area delights...

16. "Golf Links to the Past" is a must see. This great store (run by the friendly Kip Opgrand) is located on-property, right across the front lawn from the Lodge. It can be quite expensive, but you can find really cool memorabilia and artwork there, Pebble Beach-related and more.

17. Yes, you absolutely must do 17 Mile Drive, but heading south to Big Sur is essential, too. It's a great day trip. We have hiked in some random redwood forests and had dinner at the Post Ranch Inn. It's incredible, and only an hour south of the resort. It's every bit the equal of Pebble, but as a non-golf property, it has a totally different vibe.

On the aura of the place...

18. The essence of Pebble isn't "one thing"...it's everything.. Certain places in the game have an aura about them -- St. Andrews and Dornoch in Scotland have it in spades. Stateside, Bandon and Pinehurst are places that instill a sort of hyper-awareness. And Pebble Beach is right up there with them. There's something in the way the iconic golf holes, the crashing surf, and the sense of history all meld together to produce a feeling you'll never forget.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for Golf Advisor and the Managing Editor of the Golf Vacation Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
28 Comments
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Planned a 4 day father/son trip in 2013. Pacific Grove Golf Links, Bayonet Golf Course, Spyglass, and finishing with Pebble. Stayed the last 2 days at the Inn at Spanish Bay, with the awesome view and Bagpiper! Spyglass was the hardest course I had ever played with the raised greens and extremely fast grass. Had a one hole lead on my 23 year old son in our four-day match play going into Pebble. It was similar to a PGA event with people standing around watching us tee off. Hit 3 wood, 5 wood on #1 and missed the downhill birdie. On #4, hit my approach to 5 feet and made my birdie, but my son did too. The incredible views started to have an effect when I got to #7. My caddie, David Brownfield, handed me my pitching wedge and said, "take a half-swing." My ball still landed in the ocean- I hit it too hard. After that, my son ran away with the match. It was like in Caddyshack where the preacher makes putt after putt. My son ended with 25 putts that day, thanks to David. Realizing it was lost, I relaxed and enjoyed David's stories about the owners of the houses and the "Faldo" tree next to #14 green. At #17, we waved to the hole camera and my wife and his girlfriend saw us both blast out of the bunker and putt out. #18 was like a dream. One of the best things is later that year I was able to buy and have inscribed a picture of our double birdie at #4. Thanks, Stonehouse Golf, and thanks to GVI for recommending them!

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In 1999 my wife and I drove the "17 mile drive". The experience was awesome! We got to PB and she said "you need to play, you may not get this chance again". I went inside, inquired about rental clubs and "T" time availability. After 10 minutes of no service from 4 guys behind the counter, I got the attention of one, and he seemed bothered by my intentions. I didn't like his non-friendly attitude and walked out very disappointed. Down the road we discovered "Poppy Hills". I walked in, the counter guy greeted me like a long lost friend. He was very helpful. He gave me the keys to his car, and said "use my clubs, help yourself to balls, T's, and if the shoes fit wear them also", just bring my keys back before you Tee off. All this hospitality for a $20 bill. My wife went shopping for the next 4 hours, and I had a blast playing a round of golf in one the most beautiful places on the planet.

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Played Pebble in 1981 I believe, $50 with cart for my buddy and me. Played again same day for cart fee only, $25. Never gonna duplicate that price again, awesome. Can at least say I played it twice, beautiful sunny day. Will get out there again when I retire, can't wait to play it again.

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Played it in 2012 in the sand bunker on #7 hit it out raise up just enough to see it disappear. Only birdie on the day but what a day! Love that coarse.

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I can't believe you ruined his present!!!!

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I was fortunate to live out my # 1 bucket list with my friend
last year just after the BB Pro-Am. We stayed at the Lodge,
top floor looking over the 18th. What can I say, “ We were in Heaven”.
To stay and play at the course was definitely our dreams come true.
Everyone there were incredible nice, from the practice facilities, shops, club house, Tap room, fabulous. I was able to share my experience in real time with my wife back in Canada as they have real time camera feeds around the course and putting green.
I want to say thank you to all at the course for giving us the greatest golf experience of our lives.
C & G

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An avid golfer living in england really envious of all you guys who played pb a bit to late in life to add to my bucket list but if I win the lottery could well be

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Taking a cart at Pebble is like eating a liverwurst and onion sandwich in church! Walking the course is so much of the total Pebble experience.
Also, it's path only for carts so, should you choose that route, you'll find yourself spending most of your round marching back and forth across the ample fairways with a fistful of clubs. The Last time I played it was several years ago in January. On the way to the course the temperature was in the high 30s. We teed off at 9 a.m., even a slight mishit stung your hands. By the tenth hole the temperature was over 80 and Carmel Bay was full of swimmers! I played it more than a few times over the years but that was definitely the most memorable. Between Pebble and all the other local courses mentioned above, I can't imagine a more rewarding golf destination than the greater Monterey Peninsula area.

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The Pebble Resort is awesome. 8 is always a challenge that for me personally, never ends well; but is always still fun. Slow play plagues this course and as a result, the overall Spyglass experience is much better.

High prices have made this course a very special event and/or unattainable for the masses, but the tee sheet is always full.

Also like Bayonet and Black Horse in seaside to round out the economics of a great golf weekend.

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Hit the best shot of my life on the 10th hole. I shot a 38 on the front nine and then hit a nice drive on 10. I was a 4 handicap player with a natural hook. The wind was blowing from the ocean A cross wind. I had a nice score going and didn't know if I should lay up from 175 yes or go for the green with my draw. The problem was I would have to take my shot about 20 yards over the cliff and hit a 3 iron instead of my normal 5 iron from 175 yds decided to hit the required shot over the cliff and hit it on the button to within 10 ft. Sorry to say I didn't make the putt, but I'll never forget that shot. Shot 77 that day. I almost didn't play because the green fee had gone up to $175 from the $125 I had paid on my previous trip two years prior. Don't worry about making a starting time walked every time and was off within an hour.

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18 Things You Never Knew About Pebble Beach
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