PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- There are three courses every avid golfer should have on their bucket list: Augusta National, the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach Golf Links.
These are the most recognized, iconic venues in the world. We know all the holes, they have great history and, in the case of Pebble Beach, it's located on one of the most spectacular landscapes and seascapes in the world.
The best part is that Pebble Beach -- as well as St. Andrews -- is accessible by anyone. You just have to have the money. Augusta National? Good luck.
Of course, many say Pebble Beach, which play host to the U.S. Open for a sixth time in 2019, might as well be inaccessible as expensive as it is to play.
Which is why I'm going to break it down for you: It doesn't necessarily have to cost thousands of dollars to play Pebble, and you might be surprised to learn that the Pebble Beach green fee really isn't all that much higher than the Old Course (about $275 with a caddie), especially when you consider that you have to cross the pond (for our North American readers) or even courses like The Players Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass ($450 during peak season).
Pebble Beach green fee: $495-$525
Yes, the green fee for Pebble is $495, which it's been for the better part of the last decade, and it does go up to $525 during peak season, which starts April 1. There was a time, of course, that it was quite affordable. Back in the '70s, you could play it for less than $100, but that was then.
Of course, the caveat is that the five-bill green fee is just the beginning. There's a requirement that you stay two nights at one of the Pebble Beach properties to get on Pebble Beach if you book it in advance of two days or more. But what many don't know is that you can book a tee time a day out without staying at Pebble Beach.
There's risk to that strategy, of course. If you're planning a trip to Pebble Beach and don't book in advance, you could get there and not be able to get a tee time. But if you're a single, and there are no events the following day, chances are pretty good you're going to get on. If you have a foursome, it's a little more dicey but not impossible.
Your strategy, believe it or not, might be to look toward some holidays. The guys in the golf shop tell me that holidays are usually more open than non-holidays. One of the reasons may be that people assume that's a bad time to come to Pebble Beach. Another reason is that people tend to do non-golf stuff -- family gatherings, for example -- on holidays, which opens up the tee sheet. Plus, it's less likely that Pebble Beach Golf Links would stage tournaments or events on those days.
Video: Matt Ginella's tips on how to play Pebble Beach
To be safe, book the complete Pebble Beach experience
Of course, if money is no object, I like the stay-and-play options. Spend the money, stay at the resort and play a couple more courses. Spyglass Hill is one of my favorites in the world, so that makes a great 1-2 punch. Add in the Links at Spanish Bay and the new Poppy Hills Golf Course, and you've really got something.
There are four options for staying at Pebble Beach -- the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Inn at Spanish Bay, Casa Palmero, and the Fairway One Guest Rooms and Cottages.
Fairway One is the newest of the lodging options at Pebble Beach. Located along the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links, it features large guest rooms as well as the Palmer and Eastwood cottages. Prices start at $971, excluding taxes and resort fees, for a Garden View room. The cost escalates up to $6,940 for the aforementioned four-bedroom cottages per night.
The most opulent option is Casa Palmero, which is former mansion acquired by the Pebble Beach Co., in 1994. At $975 per night, Casa Palmero is an intimate, Mediterranean-style estate that features 24 private rooms and suites, each with wood-burning fireplaces, over-sized tubs and mostly king beds. Overlooking the first and second fairways of Pebble Beach Golf Links, Casa Palmero is just a few steps away from The Spa at Pebble Beach.
The next level is the Lodge, starting at $840 per night for a Garden View up to $4,230 per night for the two-bedroom Sloat Suite, and those digs, located along the 18th hole, are pretty special, too. Or you can stay at the relatively economical Inn at Spanish Bay starting sy $720 per night for a Garden View room.
Currently, the resort is offering three nights at the Lodge at Pebble Beach with a round each on Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and the Links at Spanish Bay, starting at just under $4,000. It's a lot of money for most folks, to be sure, but it's definitely a bucket list experience.
But you might want to try a tour operator or agent as well. They don't get discounted tee times at Pebble, but apparently they work deals on the hotel rooms. They can often save you some money on packages that include multiple courses.
For example, I saw one that offered a four-night package with the above courses, plus Del Monte for less than $2,800. These deals change all the time, so your best bet is to look often.
As for booking your own reservations, call Pebble Beach at (866) 249-6232, even if you're just booking a round at Pebble beach a day out.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Feb. 1, 2018