The combination of Pebble Beach's beauty and history lends a mystical charm to the place. (Evan Schiller)

18 Things You Never Knew About Pebble Beach



This article originally appeared on GolfVacationInsider.com

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...

Pebble Beach is one of the West Coast's oldest golf retreats. (Pebble Beach Company)

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?

The 8th at Pebble Beach Golf Links (Evan Schiller)

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"...

Del Monte Golf Course is an inland, old-school diversion from brawnier Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. (Miller Brown)

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.

The most striking aspect of the renovations at Quail Lodge is undoubtedly the rustic, eye-catching bunkering. (Quail Lodge & Club)

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...

The famed Tap Room at Pebble Beach is a must-see pilgrimage site for any golf lover. (TGO)

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...

The Lodge at Pebble Beach. (Scott Campbell)

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...

The combination of Pebble Beach's beauty and history lends a mystical charm to the place. (Evan Schiller)

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.

Feb 16, 2016



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Charles's avatar
Charles wrote at 2016-03-02 19:21:32+00:00:

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!

JA's avatar
JA wrote at 2016-03-01 17:46:48+00:00:

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.

Wayne W's avatar
Wayne W wrote at 2016-03-01 16:29:49+00:00:

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.

Mel P's avatar
Mel P wrote at 2016-02-23 17:11:21+00:00:

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.

Warran's avatar
Warran wrote at 2016-02-21 16:01:11+00:00:

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

Corey & Gary's avatar
Corey & Gary wrote at 2016-02-18 13:01:21+00:00:

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

Don spring's avatar
Don spring wrote at 2016-02-18 08:51:25+00:00:

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

Chuck P's avatar
Chuck P wrote at 2016-02-17 16:49:24+00:00:

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.

TW's avatar
TW wrote at 2016-02-17 14:15:14+00:00:

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.

Tom richardson's avatar
Tom richardson wrote at 2016-02-17 05:33:30+00:00:

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.

Old Tom's avatar
Old Tom wrote at 2016-02-17 03:12:35+00:00:

I played Pebble lots of times in the 1960's for $20, but we often skipped it to play Spyglass for $15. Those were the days!

Don R's avatar
Don R wrote at 2016-02-17 00:42:50+00:00:

Played my first 2 rounds at P.B. in 1974 at 18 years old. The course had a daily fee back then. $25.00 included the fee and a cart for the first round. After that, we had to renew the cart for $10.00 per 18. Cost us $45.00 for 45 holes in the middle of July in perfect weather. I've 5 times since, paying $125.00 at the high point. The best course I'll ever play, Cypress included.

Toni & David's avatar
Toni & David wrote at 2016-02-16 23:39:40+00:00:

I booked a weekend in May 2001 at Pebble Beach as a Christmas gift for my (very) significant other of 13 yrs. As the month approached, I had a breakthrough idea - how about we use the weekend and get married there? What could he say? LOL. We played Spyglass Hill Saturday morning with two guys from Texas who, when they learned we were getting married in a few hours, were a tad amazed at our story. Our simple little ceremony was on the balcony of the Carmel suite (closest suite to the water, overlooking the 18th green) - just us, a justice of the peace and an excellent photographer. We had a lovely dinner at the lodge, and played Pebble the next morning. The photos from our little ceremony are amazing! Fifteen years later, my husband still teases that I confiscated his birthday present for a wedding. What a beautiful place!

Phil T's avatar
Phil T wrote at 2016-02-16 23:34:58+00:00:

One thing you forgot to mention is the "aroma" on the holes by the ocean. The seaweed that washes ashore and rots leaves a constant STRONG dead fish/manure fertilizer smell anytime you are on a hole near the ocean.

LeonardK/San Jose's avatar
LeonardK/San Jose wrote at 2016-02-16 22:56:04+00:00:

Stop by the Stillwater Bar & Grill in the Lodge. The crab cake appetizer with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blank is a great light lunch or snack. Also the Lobster sandwich is a favorite. If weather is fine, eat out on the Terrace.

Mark - Memphis, TN's avatar
Mark - Memphis, TN wrote at 2016-02-16 22:22:03+00:00:

Pebble by itself is a great destination, but my trip to the Peninsula was actually part of a 2-day CA dream trip for me (I was born outside LA)...March 2000, I was working at Nevada Bob's in Memphis and had become very good friends with someone who worked at TaylorMade in Carlsbad, so when the opportunity to play Pebble came to me, I called him and asked if I made it to California early, could we get together for a round also? He said he would see what he could work out...long story short, flew into Orange County Friday, stayed with family in Mission Viejo, then I got to play La Costa on Monday, flew to Monterey Mon night, woke up Tues and played Pebble - not too shabby for a whirlwind vacation! Shot 80 at La Costa (north course, which included the famous par-3 from the old Tournament of Champions), but didn't fare so well at Pebble - I think I broke 100, but not by much, although I was the only one in our foursome to do so...weather was beautiful both days and I have some great photos to remember it by...17 Mile Drive was amazing!!

Betsy Perrott's avatar
Betsy Perrott wrote at 2016-02-16 21:56:19+00:00:

My husband and I visited California in about 1973. We drove the 17 Miles Drive ending up at Pebble Beach. I said "Let's play the course". He said "no, we can't it is Private". Well guess what? We rented clubs and played. We saw the clouds coming in off the ocean and as we turned for the back nine, the rain began. We continued on and my feat of the day was on the 18th Hole. I was a 10 handicapper at the time, and was on the green in 3 and made my putt for a birdie - in the rain. I will never forget it. What a beautiful place and hope to go back again soon.

Pam's avatar
Pam wrote at 2016-02-16 21:41:02+00:00:

A spectacular editorial ! Enjoyed how you mixed Pebble and area history along with stay and play tips. Thanks for sharing!

Gary w's avatar
Gary w wrote at 2016-02-16 21:35:17+00:00:

Used to have great public bathroom. But recent downgrade.

Tim Gavrich's avatar
Tim Gavrich wrote at 2016-02-16 21:26:50+00:00:

PJ--

We've always regarded Pebble's caddies as part of its greatness. Whatever the bag situation may have been, we hope you found them as knowledgeable and efficient as we always have.

In our experience, some stand bags' straps are not as conducive to caddying as others, especially double-bag caddies. When I caddied, I noticed that the shape of a certain Sun Mountain stand bag's straps was not as comfortable as that of, say, a Ping stand bag's. Sometimes we would shift guests' clubs into a club-logoed bag in order to make the physical toting of the clubs a little less onerous. And in fact, many courses with caddies have adopted the practice of shifting guests' clubs into a club stand bag; Pebble is not alone in this practice.

--Tim

PJ Thompson's avatar
PJ Thompson wrote at 2016-02-16 21:25:58+00:00:

19. The caddies are the wimpiest to be found anywhere. When you and your partner show up to the first tee with the lightest stand bags around, jettisoned all the extra weight save a few balls and tees, your caddie won't be able to handle it. Into a green caddie sack they'll go. Next day, same bags, The Cypress loopers were thrilled to see us.

Larry, Philadelphia's avatar
Larry, Philadelphia wrote at 2016-02-16 21:14:39+00:00:

I have played Pebble Beach three times and stayed at the Lodge on two occasions while playing Pebble, Spanish Bay, and Spyglass. I'm not aware of a "no tipping" policy. (I'm not referring to caddies, who normally receive a 30% to 70% gratuity.) Then again, it has been 10 years since my last visit, so maybe policies have changed.

Laura K.'s avatar
Laura K. wrote at 2016-02-16 21:05:12+00:00:

We went for husband's 50th. Played twice - once in gorgeous 70 degree weather and two days later 40 MPH wind and 50 degrees. Loved seeing the course under both conditions. On the 1st tee I was thinking what is so special about the course. It seemed ordinary. Then, you walk around the slight dog leg going to green - the whole course unfolds in front of you and you realize - it worth every penny. Everyone who loves the game should go once.

Teddy Ack's avatar
Teddy Ack wrote at 2016-02-16 21:03:28+00:00:

Mike ONYC

That was an awesome account and vision of your "golf nirvana"!!! I loved it.

Thank you for sharing.

Hope to feel that bliss, someday.

Bob, Point Pleasant Beach's avatar
Bob, Point Pleasant Beach wrote at 2016-02-16 21:00:41+00:00:

My Son-in-law surprised me. We flew from LAX to Monterrey. We were met by my west coast brother who drove us to Pebble. Breakfast at the Lodge. Eighteen holes through rain, sleet, then sun to finish. Great! Chili and drinks at the tap room, dinner at Clint's Mission Ranch and back to LAX that evening. BEST golf day ever!

Paul's avatar
Paul wrote at 2016-02-16 20:41:09+00:00:

The Peter Hay course is the best value inside the gates to 17 mile Drive. It is an all day fee and you can have a ton of fun there! If you have budgetary restraints, play the back nine at Pacific Grove Muni. That is as close to playing in Scotland as it gets for a very good value. I love the entire Monterey Bay area. You will never be bored in this area. I agree with you about Roy's at Spanish Bay. Best meal my wife and I ever had in our lives was at Roy's! I can't wait to get back there! Paul

Mike ONYC's avatar
Mike ONYC wrote at 2016-02-16 20:31:22+00:00:

In the late 80's from the tips, I had 193 second shot to the pin at #8 into an offshore quartering 8-10 MPH breeze. Balata 100 ball. Hogan Apex blade 2-iron. Dead solid perfect, high draw, fights wind, lands, bites rolls two feet to 6 inches. I fell to my knees... the vibration of that shot had gone all the way up my arms and spine. My wife witnessed it, as did a guy I was paired with by the starter. "Golf nirvana" he said. I couldn't speak. Since then, many injuries, vertigo, age... a moment I can never duplicate, but I'll never forget. Tap in. -3 for that 9. Bliss.

Nelson Okwanga's avatar
Nelson Okwanga wrote at 2016-02-16 20:17:34+00:00:

Shame I can never get to see it.


Tim Gavrich

Senior Writer

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.