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.
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