Saturday, 27 February 2010

Pebble Beach

When I first was approached in respect of a round the world golf trip, it was inevitable that a stay at the prestigious pebble beach resort would be a major highlight of the adventure. Indeed it could not be called the ultimate golf trip or livin the dream unless, the social golfer visited this golfing mecca on the Monterrey peninsula just outside Clints Carmel in sunny California.

I decided after much review to play the top hundred rated Spyglass first. The second day I chose Spanish Links and my stay would be completed with a round at the daddy of them all, Pebble home later in the year of the 2010 US Open.

Ironically the weather after the sun of Vancouver was pretty inclement. Wed, Spyglass day was chilly, grey, overcast but dry and still. Thurs, The Links was sunny, gorgeous with a pleasant wind. Friday, my big day, saw gale force winds, torrential storm came in when we were on the 17th. Three completely different successive days, good job the open in June, but it certainly adequately demonstrated to me what difficulty the courses would be dependent on the weather. It also enhanced my appreciation of all 3 course designers at these courses as they had to consider the differing weather patterns and particularly winds coming in off the pacific.
There are a full array of pics of these 3 super courses on the facebook website of The Social Golfer.

Spyglass has a most wonderful opening 5 holes that takes you downhill from the fine clubhouse to the ocean and is a super golfing test and experience after this you rise thru the forested plantations away from the sea and the course is more akin to a Carolina Course. Sadly there have been quite a loss of pine trees and oak trees which has affected the course somewhat. I am pleased to say that there is a major planting exercise which hopefully will bring the course back to its pristine set up and condition. Greens were as you would expect in great condition, a bit slow but with some deceptive slopes and gradients.
Spyglass The Par 5 opening hole slopes down to the sea

I then visited the Tom Watson designed newest addition to the pebble menagerie, the splendidly titled Spanish Links and what a great experience I had. The weather was great, course despite wet was in great condition, could not of course play as designed as a true links but that did not distract at all from a fine experience, I started with a birdie 4 at the first by nailing a 40 footer and proceeded at last to find my putting touch which helped me put together a fine round. Apart from a loop from 8 to 12 all the holes are within a drive, even one of mine from the sea. So on a windy day it could be treacherous, I imagine.
A birdie at the links and Im a happy bunny

Finish 15 to 18 are as good as it gets, playing the par4 15th you are only 60 yards from the
beach but amazingly in that small acreage is the par3 16th playing north and stunning 17th playing back south before heading back north with a torturous final par5. The wind giveth an advantage then takes it straight back, super design.

An idea of the stunning beauty of this little gem taken by karens panoramic shutter, glad we found this on the digital.

On Friday, the big one at pebble, we had been told a major storm had been coming in due at one, so it was going to be touch and go whether we would get round. We did get to the 17th before being drenched but the gale was with us all day. Despite this I played superbly starting par, par and no doubles despite losing a ball on the first par3 the 5th when the wind of the ocean took my ball into some ,millionaires garden. The par 5 sixth up the hill took a drive and three 3 woods into the wind and I was still short. The famed 7th just 100 yard downhill but into the teeth of the gale. i was 40 yard short with a 6 iron, but got up and down. The 8th with the wind behind was just a drive and a wedge, unbelievable experience. When the rain came on the 16th Tee, I needed a par, par bogey finish to break 80. A great drive, set up the par at 16th but the dreaded finish was left. the 17th again into a massive left to right wind needed a drive to reach the par3 narrow green. I gave it everything and just reached the front and two putts as the rain poured downleft a 6 at the famous par5 as enuff to break 80. We were in the teeth of the storm but the wind was with me and of the ocean on 18. I launched a drive over the pacific and watched expectantly that the ball would fade back into the fairway, it did over the fairway and into the bunkers at over 300 yards. Impossible. I was in deep manure, but a short escape, 3 wood of the middle wedge to ten feet and two putts for a bogey 6 and a 79.

Drenched but elated on 18.

Everything ever written about Pebble is true, exceptional golfing test, spectacular backdrops, it doesnt get any better. Probably the best Ive ever played.

Livin the Dream

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