PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- So why does Pebble Beach Golf Links always edge out Spyglass Hill Golf Course as the headliner at Pebble Beach Resorts?
They both regularly host the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and there isn't much difference between the two in popular course rankings by major publications. Golf Magazine rates Pebble Beach second and Spyglass Hill 10th in its 2014 rankings of the Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Golf Digest has the duo first and 11th, respectively, on its 2013-14 list of America's 100 Greatest Public Courses.
Golfers wouldn't be wrong if they favored playing Spyglass Hill, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1966. Spectacular coastal dunes frame the first five holes. The views of the Pacific Ocean from these opening holes are just as inspiring as those at Pebble Beach.
Several of Spyglass Hill's inland holes through the Del Monte Forest are better than Pebble Beach's inland holes framed by mansions and roads. Ponds add beauty and drama to Spyglass Hill's short par 3s at nos. 12 and 15. Two other water hazards guard a pair of greens on par 5s at 7 and 14. When it comes to difficulty, even pros fear the uphill climbs and elevated greens at Spyglass Hill, one of the toughest courses annually on the PGA Tour.
Pebble Beach ultimately wins the debate, though. The ocean is actually in play on its most famous holes, 7-8 and 17-18. And, as the host of five U.S. Opens, Pebble Beach has witnessed some of the game's most memorable moments.
Spyglass Hill seems destined to forever be a bridesmaid on the loaded Monterey Peninsula. Still, the 6,960-yard course would be the star attraction just about anywhere else.