So, that was that. Pebble Beach Links, done, played. We rocked up in plenty of time to go to the range and hit 50 balls or so, a bit of a chip & a putt and then it was down to the 1st tee.
Our playing partners were two brothers, Rick & Steve Rash (Scottsdale & El Paso respectively).
Then, driver down the 1st, what was I thinking! Great hit, but wrong line put me under a tree, a punch out and a decent wedge to the green, left me 10 feet away, and that’s where the fun started, a three putt on the first green.
The greens were some of the quickest and with the most slope of anything I’ve ever played on. Not massive obvious slopes a lot of the time but every green had slope on. Never has it been made more obvious to me that when we are watching the Pros play and the commentators talk about the importance of “leaving the ball in the right place on the green” that they know what they are talking about.
By the time we’d got to the par 5 6th hole which is a frightening hole into the wind, it hard started to rain, and I don’t just mean rain, it absolutely tanked it down. I made a terrible 7 after putting a ball in the ocean off the tee!
The 7th is an awesome hole, it was only playing 110 yards, but again, terrifying into the wind & rain. Walked off with a 5.
The 8th, 9th and 10th are great holes. One of the holes I was most looking forward to was the 14th. I managed to hold the the green on that hole (you have to have watched the AT&T Pro-Am to understand that comment. It was my best hole of the day I think, A terrible drive to a left fairway bunker, low lip and so smoked a 3-wood to leave me 190 yards to the green. 3-rescue to 12 feet and missed the birdie putt, but made a par.
The 17th and 18th are two fantastic finishing holes. The 17th a long/short (depending on which portion of the green the flag is on straight out to the ocean. The 18th is as iconic in real life as it looks on television.
So, the bottom line you want to know. Is it worth the $495? Let’s compare it to some legendary UK courses and another US course. St Andrew’s Old Course @ $260 and the West Course at Wentworth @ $495 (£360 which includes a caddie) and Pinehurst No.2 @ $410. I’ve been lucky enough to have played all four. Which one would I rush back to? The Old Course. It’s the only one of the four where the hairs were standing up on my arms on the first tee. Of the two US courses Pebble Beach would get my vote every time. Don’t get me wrong they are all fabulous courses and if money was no object you would play them all the time, but it is.
So, let me ask myself again, is it worth it. Yes, definitely, and as soon as the savings plan adds up to enough, I’ll come back and play again. The condition of the course (perfect) and the views (over the Pacific Ocean) are much, much better than the Old Course, but there was no “magic” like there is at the Old Course. I do wonder if that’s because I’m a Brit and not an American, it might be. Much as I’ve watched the AT&T Pro-Am and the US Open in 2012 (well done Mr McDowell) Pebble Beach still does not hold the mystique for me that the Old Course does.