Playing Golf at Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay
This was it; we were finally going to be playing golf at Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay. Anticipation and a hefty dose of nervousness were the prequels to our first round at Pebble Beach. Our casita was on the first fairway, about the distance of a good drive, so we could see the hole looking back to the tee and forward to the green. I agonized over what club to hit off the first tee as I feared embarrassing myself with whatever club I hit. We were reminded of the first hole challenge when we found a ball in our fenced-in jacuzzi out our sliding door.
I was amazed when I checked in at the pro shop when the pro wished me a Happy Anniversary. The whole resort was very buttoned up when recognizing our 45th anniversary that week.
Pebble Beach’s practice facility is some distance from the first tee, so free shuttles are provided. This fantastic facility housed their practice facilities and Golf Academy. We warmed up for a half hour or so on the range and the practice chipping and putting areas. Anytime I didn’t make great contact, I worried about what would happen on the course.
Our Experience Playing Golf at Pebble Beach:
We got to the first tee, where we met the other couple who’d round out our foursome and our caddie, David. The starter called us to the tee, and it was time to put that drive into play. The hole is a good par four, but there are no senior tees at Pebble, so the white tees were going to stretch my ability to get to the green in regulation, even if I hit a great shot. After all of the anticipation, I decided on a four iron because I can still hit it 180+/- when I make good contact. Hooray, I hit the first shot solid and managed a par on the first hole at Pebble Beach.
The weather was cool but dry, which was appreciated as the round was slow, as expected. We had a cart we rode at times which also carried our layers of clothes and other equipment. The caddie acting as a for-caddie was invaluable on the greens and the longer holes.
The Front Nine at Pebble Beach:
The front nine isn’t special until you get to hole numbers 6, 7, 8, and 9, which all have spectacular ocean views. Six was a challenging par 5 in which length helps, and I struggled to double bogey. Seven is spectacular, as advertised. It’s very short and plays even shorter with a northeasterly wind. It was about 105 yards, but my gap wedge was lobbed onto the slope on the back of the green. Bogey, there.
Number 8 became my new favorite golf hole. We were advised to drive the ball well left, aiming for one of the mega-mansions that lined #10 overlooking the Pacific. I had been using my driver, but I again opted for the four iron, as I could hit it right, attempting to cut off significant yardage by getting to the edge of the ravine. I hit it well, and it scared me as it ran out to about 10 yards from the cliff. The second shot was off the bluff, about 60-80 feet up to a very well-protected green along the water. The carry was somewhere in the 150s, and a shot onto the green would have to be about 170. I hit it well enough to cover the water, but, as it was a bit of a pull, I ended up in the front left bunker, managing another bogey.
The Back Nine at Pebble Beach:
The back nine was very enjoyable, with several iconic holes. 17 was fun as you hit your tee shot toward the ocean, and we both played it well. The famous 18th was/is spectacular and very memorable. We both avoided the water on the left and the tree in the middle of the fairway. On most holes, we drove the cart, but on 18, the caddie took the cart so the golfers could experience ‘the walk.’ I managed a good second shot and had an 8-iron in to hit the green in regulation. I hit it well, but it didn’t entirely cover the right-hand bunker, and I didn’t get up and down for par.
My score was 89 with a disaster on the other back, nine par five, taking three shots to get onto the green over the high face of the bunker. But, from the men’s tees, I was thrilled with the round.
Was the round worth the price? When it comes to bucket list expenditures, the answer is a resounding “YES.” The entire experience was terrific.
Pebble Beach Takeaways:
- The cart paths are far away from the fairways, so you’ll be doing a good bit of walking, but they are handy for storing the many layers of clothes that are often needed.
- The food on the course was good, but be careful not to leave anything in the carts, as one squirrel stole an energy bar.
- There are deer everywhere.
- There are many marshals, and they endeavor to keep the course moving. Marilyn and I usually play fast, but we were out there for more than 5 hours between pictures and waiting for the groups in front of us to play.
- Bring clothing layers as the temperatures and comfort levels change as often as the sun goes in and out.
- The caddie was good but not great. He was wrapped up in conversation with his counterpart caddying for the other couple.
- The views of Carmel Beach with locals and visitors walking and playing with their dogs were fun.
- Logo balls were only sold in sleeves, making them crazy expensive; we passed.
Playing Golf at Spanish Bay:
Day three of our trip found us playing on Spanish Bay Links, a course I had played on a business trip many years earlier. We had an early tee time and arrived at the course on the northern edge of the peninsula around 7 am. The weather was blustery and very cool. I’d guess the winds were in the 15 to 20 range. The starter was very friendly, and we teed off following a single.
The course is a gorgeous links layout with great views of the Pacific and inland areas of Monterey. We struggled with our game and wished we would have another chance at playing on a warmer day. We are used to windy conditions as we spent 17 years playing golf in Oklahoma and Kansas, but our scores were regrettably high, and we were cold. After the round, we had a snack with coffee and hot chocolate in the café that overlooked the course, unwinding while planning the rest of the day.
Spanish Bay Takeaways:
- Dress warmer on blustery days, or don’t play.
- Take pictures – we were too cold.
- Enjoy the scenery.
Round 2 at Pebble Beach:
Since we had a stay-and-play package, we were entitled to play a second round at Pebble. We had a 6:10 AM tee time and played with another couple. He was a good golfer and played from deeper tees, and she was pretty inexperienced. Their Mom and Dad walked the course, so there were times when they lollygagged a bit. The marshals were all over us, which was a bit annoying because we weren’t the offenders, but we picked up the pace late on the first nine, and the marshals began smiling at us again!
We were inconsistent scorers, as we had some good holes and bad. I knew to hit one less club on number 7 and dropped my shot within 10 feet of the hole. Marilyn also hit the green, and we both left with pars. I hit a poor drive on 18, and a mulligan was recommended, producing a bogey.
Was Pebble Beach Worth the Cost?
Our quest to play golf at Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay was a thrilling experience. It was great to be finished before lunch. We ate in the grille overlooking the 18th green. The food was pricey but delicious.
All in all, the golf was outstanding and memorable. The service was excellent, and everyone worked hard to optimize the experience. So go for it if you get the chance.