Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of those iconic coastline courses that many keen golfers will recognise without ever having visited. The Monterey coastline links and beachside greens are world famous.
Currently the home of the AT&T Pro-Am in February, Pebble Beach has hosted the US Open six times and will be the venue for the Women’s US Open in July 2023.
So, as I was in the area with my partner Brooke, visiting her family, it was an ideal opportunity to play a few holes on the hallowed turf salted by the Pacific coastal spray. Or so I thought.
Open to the public?
Pebble Beach is a ‘public course’, as are many PGA Tour venues. ‘Public’ in the sense that they are not exclusive to country club members. To many UK golfers, a ‘public course’ sounds like one of those increasingly rare council-run and-owned municipal courses where anyone can turn up, pay a bargain green fee and play 18 holes with the occasional mat on the tee. Think again.
Stay, pay to play
Pebble Beach is a very high-end golf resort, bringing together multiple courses, spas, shops, restaurants and luxury accommodations designed for golfers to stay, pay and play – wealthy golfers, that is. To reserve a tee some time in advance, you’ll need a room booking with a minimum stay. $1,000 a night should cover it.
If you just fancy playing golf, you can only book a day in advance and take your chances with availability. Good luck. It’s very popular. Think of the multiple courses and hotels at St. Andrews, but less Scottish weather and more pines and sunshine. If you do get a tee time, you’ll need a spare $595 + $50 cart fee.
Having checked our wallets, we thought we’d go for option B and do some rich people-watching from our lunch table at the Tap Room bar inside the Lodge, just so we could say “I‘ve been there” and still have clothes on our backs.
You’ll need the code words
While Pebble Beach is a public course, it sits within a gated private community on a private guarded road – the ‘17 Mile Drive’ coastal highway. To get to the course, you’ll need to get past the security gates by paying an $11.25 entry fee. As we were committed to spending more than that for our lunch, we were allowed to pass with the code words “Tap Room Reservation”. I don’t think they patrol the A91 road to St. Andrews’ old course with quite the same rigour.
We were there!
A lazy lunch consumed, and the rich folks thoroughly observed, we had a nosey around the course and resort shops. It was foggy, not untypical coastal weather for the time of year. Unfortunately, the mist had reduced the magnificence of the sea vistas and the views of the fairways. But we were there, at Pebble Beach, not playing golf but definitely very close to where it gets played.
A mooch around the pro shop and a photo by the clock provided proof of life that we were there and finished off the experience. I now have an official Pebble Beach golf cap and will never wear anything else on my head during a round, except for the PuttBANDIT hat clip, and you won’t need a room reservation to get one of those. Just a head will do.
Paul Hart is a co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT ball marker and enthusiastic golf improver on vacation in California.
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