Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #64

My favorite golf tournament, next to the Master’s, is any tournament competed at Pebble Beach. The Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am is being played this weekend over three courses on the Monterey Peninsula.

Television just doesn’t do it justice. It truly is magnificent and it’s a public course… At least the Pebble Beach Golf Links is municipal. That Doesn’t mean you could just walk up, drop down your $450 and play 18. There is often a long waiting list, but I’ve said it before, if you ever get a chance to play it, it’s worth it. Besides Pebble, as it’s known for short, Skyglass Hill and the Monterey Country Club, are the other two courses in the rotation. Golfers play each course once, a cut is made, and the final round is competed on Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.

Pebble Beach has been called “The greatest meeting of land and water.” “The greatest spectacle in golf.” and Jack Nicklaus called it “His favorite course in the world.” You get the idea, it’s a beautiful course. No question it is the most scenic course I’ve ever played, but not the most difficult if you can keep from being mesmerized by the scenery. As you watch the tournament this Sunday, key in on my favorite holes at Pebble. The course is pretty tame until you get to the 4th hole, and that’s actually my favorite hole on the course. It’s the first time you get to see the Pacific Ocean on your right. It’s a short narrow par 4, almost drivable from the front tee.

When I played it in 1990 I took out a driver and caught one straight down the right-hand side about 250. That left me about 50 yards, pitching slightly uphill to a tiny green. My pitch shot did not hold, but I got it up and down for a par. My second favorite hole is the 18th, the signature hole on the course… 548 yards, par 5, dogleg left with the ocean down the entire left-hand side, OB right, and a tree right in the middle of the fairway, about driving distance for me, back in the day, so it must be around 250 out. I needed to par the hole to break 90. My first drive was a duck hook into the ocean. I reloaded and proceeded to hook a second drive which I couldn’t see. I strolled down the left side by the ocean wall and saw my ball a few feet into the hazard, so I dropped a ball and ended up making 8 with three penalty strokes to shoot 92. The 18th got me, but I didn’t get mad because it was such a pleasure to play.

Finally my third favorite hole is one of the shortest holes on the PGA Tour. The 7th hole at Pebble Beach is about 100 yards downhill. Sounds like a piece of cake, right? First of all the green is only about 40 feet wide and 50 feet deep. Then there is the ocean luring only a few yards right of the green. And Finally there is the ever present wind coming in off the ocean. I hit a high pitching wedge anyway, and if not struck solidly your shot could get knocked down ten yards short of the green, or worse yet, carry off the course into the water. I think I hit short and bogied the hole. As a P.S. my dad loves the 8th hole, a 200 yard layup to the edge of a casm and then another long iron to the green below. I had a chance to par that hole, but missed a short putt.

Every hole is a thing of beauty at Pebble Beach, but numbers 4, 7 and 18 hold a special place in my heart. Check them out this weekend while you’re watching the snow melt. And when it gets warm enough in a month or so, hit ’em straight!

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