PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - The subtle signs of greensites are starting to emerge from the giant dirt pile where the Peter Hay par 3 once stood.
The tiny starter shack is gone. The "Momentum" statue, a 15-foot-tall, 15-ton bronze sculpture created by Richard MacDonald for the 2000 U.S. Open, has been moved, making room for even heavier equipment, which was busy earlier this week digging and shaping the construction zone. One look out toward the water served as the ultimate reminder of how good this new playground could be when it debuts, likely in May 2021.
The plans for a 670-yard, nine-hole loop and putting course being implemented by Tiger Woods' TGR Design will breathe new life into a short course that was perfectly enjoyable, although not quite up to the standards of many of the resort's other new and renovated facilities. It is located on a small parcel of land sandwiched between the visitor parking for the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Pebble Beach Visitor Center and the Pebble Beach Golf Academy.
“First of all, it has been fantastic to work with Tiger and his design team," Pebble Beach Company President David L. Stivers said. "They are terrific. They have a passion for this project, for this one and short courses in general. The end product, it will give the skilled players the chance to work on the most important part of the game, the short game, and for beginners, it will be a fun course to play. The design is turning out wonderful."
The highlight of the project, without a doubt, is the second hole that will be a replica of the real 7th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, all 106 yards of it. Stivers said it was a "collaborative effort" to come up with the concept. It will be the longest of the holes, which will range from 47 yards and up. The bunkering, the shape of the green and even the elevation change will all be identical to the real thing on the ocean.
"It was something we talked about early on," he recalled. "We recognized the elevation (changes of the property), and we saw that (a replica) was a possibility. It fell into place. One thing about the old Peter Hay was it played away from ocean. Now a lot of the holes play to the ocean. That lent itself to the idea. 'Wow, it looks like we can recreate this'."
Playability has been the hallmark of TGR Design's other short courses, which include the Oasis at Diamante in Mexico and The Playgrounds at Bluejack National in Texas. The yardage of each hole (except no. 2) on the new Peter Hay is aligned to correspond with a significant year in the history of the resort, with accompanying plaques on each tee telling a story.
"Pebble Beach is such an iconic golf destination. We want guests to feel the entirety of that spirit when they play this course. We also know not everyone who comes to Pebble Beach will have a chance to play the U.S. Open course, so we wanted to create the opportunity for all visitors to experience one of its most famous holes," Woods said in a statement.
The reimagining of the Peter Hay continues the trend of resorts investing heavily in short and putting courses. Like many trends in modern resort design, it started at Bandon Dunes (Bandon Preserve) and has extended to Big Cedar Lodge (Top of the Rock, Mountain Top), Sand Valley (Sandbox), Pinehurst (The Cradle) and soon, Forest Dunes and Gamble Sands (Quicksands). The forefathers of the concept date back to the 1990s with Threetops at Treetops and the short courses at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail facilities like Grand National.
Peter Hay's 20,000-square-foot putting course can be set up in a variety of hole and routing combinations. These are also gaining in popularity. The Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes has inspired The Drumlin, a night-lit putting course at Erin Hills; the Cascade Putting course at Gamble Sands and Hilltop at Forest Dunes.
Stivers said the green fees and how heavily music will be involved in the setup hasn't been decided. The 5,000-square-foot food and beverage venue featuring a full kitchen and bar, indoor seating and the resort's largest outdoor patio is sure to be a popular draw. The porch will extend the views beyond the short course out to Carmel Bay and Point Lobos.
"Around here during the summer, there are a lot of junior events," Stivers said. "I can picture the day when junior events are back. Parents will sit on deck, watching their children and looking at the ocean, probably with a drink in their hand. It will become another great spot at Pebble Beach."