07 Feb GolfPass Grass Guru – Pebble Beach GL :: Monterey Peninsula CC :: Spyglass Hill GC
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am • By Eric MacPherson
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am is, without a doubt, the best multi course tournament on the PGA Schedule. The Monterey Peninsula has arguably some of the best golf courses in the world. And not just one or two great courses, but every golf course is world class. This week, we get the pleasure of both celebs and pros teeing it up on 3 magnificent courses – Monterey Peninsula CC, Spyglass Hill GC, and of course Pebble Beach GL.
Monterey Peninsula CC • Hole 7 • Par 3 • 226 yds
In no particular order, Monterey Peninsula CC Shores Course is first up. Situated on the Pacific Ocean, all three of these courses offer breathtaking views and a flowing landscape that makes playing any of the courses a real treat. The first bunker is a beautifully contoured dune-style bunker situated in front of the approach on the par 3 7th. By now, you know I’m a sucker for a beautifully incorporated wasteland. The designers of Monterey Peninsula CC, Neville and Baldock, sought to incorporate the natural landscape throughout. Placing this bunker/dune combo is a prime example of just that. The course also exhibits numerous other dune bunkers/ and wastelands throughout, adding to the beauty. As an aside, Monterey Peninsula CC Dunes Course also has some amazing bunkering, but you’ll just have to trust me on that one.
Spyglass Hill GC • Hole 1 • Par 5 • 595 yds
Hole 1 – a sweeping dogleg leading down to the water – is one of the best opening holes in golf. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. Why is it so memorable you ask? Just thank the course’s largest bunker – a monstrous green-side bunker – that sits just before the left front-side of the green. Two smaller bunkers on the left and right also guard the green. Hitting an approach shot into this behemoth will only set you back with a difficult stretch of opening holes to follow.
The bunkering on Spyglass Hill, while not as exciting as the other courses’, is expertly refined and deliberate. This comes as a nod from the designer, Robert Trent Jones Sr. The overall feng shui of Hole 1, with the inclusion of that large bunker, is what makes it such a great hazard. Had the bunker been smaller, I don’t think the grandeur of Hole 1 would be as impactful. Sure, the hole looks straight out on to The Pacific, but that framing of green and the foreground of the white sand bunker is what makes this hole so satisfying.
Pebble Beach Golf Links • Hole 18 • Par 5 • 543 yds
Now on to the namesake of the event, which includes one of the most iconic holes of all time – Hole 7. Show that hole to any golfer and they immediately know it’s Pebble Beach. With a propensity to avoid the obvious, I chose an equally iconic hole with a bunker to match. My bunker choice at Pebble Beach Golf Links is the final hole – Hole 18.
The par 3 7th, and the following 8th are absolutely amazing, but the bunkers there pale in comparison to the long fairway side bunker stretching half of the hole on the 18th. This bunker has a large retaining wall to prevent it from being claimed by the ocean. To be certain, it has seen many a pro’s ball bounce off into the Pacific, or plug down in the muddy beach besides. This bunker perfectly caps a memorable course and seals the deal as Pebble Beach being one of the greats. To top it off, amateur golfer Jack Neville designed Pebble and would also go on to design Monterey Peninsula CC.
Not only does this hole have the best bunker on the course, but it has a giant tree smacked right down in the middle of the fairway. I absolutely hate that. It makes for great golf dramatics, but it is a nightmare to care for. I imagine that the grass is screaming around that Cypress, but it looks cool and thats what 99% of the public cares about – and the 1% of grass guys have to live with.
I can’t finish without saying that the Monterey Peninsula has some of the best grass growing conditions in the world. That cool Pacific breeze, the moisture, the temperature, all make for optimal bent grass conditions. As the Grass Guru, I always have to give props to the locations that favor the growing of grass. The Monterey Peninsula has been, and will always be, renown for world class golf around every turn, including the muni’s.