Review by John K. Darling


I believe I am correct when I say that most, if not all, golfers of any skill level, dream of playing two courses before they meet their maker. The Old Course St. Andrews Links in Scotland and Pebble Beach in California. Dear reader, I have fulfilled that dream. The only other course I coveted to play was the Orinda Country Club in California where my father-in-law, Frank C. McCann, held the course record for over forty years with a 64. I had that pleasure several years ago. (see Orinda Country Club in COURSE REVIEWS

Hard times have hit the Pebble Beach Golf Links with government intervention sweeping away many corporate business gatherings. This has financially hindered the operation, but you would never know that if you are an individual trying to fulfill your dream. The course, personnel, and food are prImo but so is the cost.

You can play, but you have to spend a couple of days at the resort at about $600+ a day and then pay almost $500 for your green fee and add to that a caddy or cart. I'm guessing $2,000. Of course there is also the cost of your flight out from where ever and transportation. You can probably do better flying over to play St.Andrews, especially if you can find a direct flight to Glascow, rent a car and walk on at the Old Course. You may have to look for a place that charges $600+ a night to stay. My experience is that lodging will not run you near that much.

Enough about expense. What about the course? I did not have the feeling of a tingle up my spine as I did when I teed off at St. Andrews, but the round was more pleasant because this is a country club course rather than what the Scots or Irish would call a links course. Over there Pebble Beach would be referred to as a "park" course, if I can remember the term correctly. Links courses are usually carved into the landscape to preserve as much as possible the natrual teraine.

When I review courses I often pick on their signage, tee amenities like ball washers and drinking water, and on-course restrooms. Pebble Beach signage is just okay. Their restrooms and tee amenities need a lot of improvement. This is especially true with respect to the ball washers. I could not believe it, but they were no better than the average municipal course. While these three observations are not important when it comes to playing a course, they do enforce "image." PB fails this test. The best I have ever seen are at the Flying Horse Country Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can take a look at their review in COURSE REVIEWS.

I would love to go back and play Pebble Beach again. Maybe I will in five years. I know I would score much better, but this course is not about just the score. The club has done a great job maintaining and renewing the course from time to time. It is more than just a pleasure to walk the 18, it's an exciting experience, especially when you have great playing partners and caddies as I did.

To score well, you really need to know where to hit the ball. If you are familiar with desert courses of Arizona, New Mexico and the Southwest, you know what "target" courses are. This is true with Pebble beach as well, but in a different way. You need to know where to place each tee shot to set up your next shot to lay up or hit greens in regulation. There are probably over 200 bunkers all over the place and a distinct possiblility of fog coming in and out as well and wind. This only adds to the excitement. Fortunately the day we played the wind was not a problem, but as you will see from the slide show, there were times we were unable to even see some of the greens as the fog came in and receeded. What an experience that was

ALL THE HOLES AT PEBBLE BEACH ARE SIGITURE HOLES. CLICK HERE for a tour around the course from a golfer's eye view. After we do the course together you will see other photos of the grounds, some of the homes and views out into the Pacific. I was surprised that the resort really does not have "curb appeal" of any consequence, but boy does the view off the restaurant balcony make up for any shortcomings.

Oh, by the way, the SFG rating is about a five on the difficulty scale of one to ten for seniors and about the same for all skill levels. Of course if you spend a lot of time in the bunkers that rateing can go down to a three.