Visiting Pebble Beach for the first time

For as long as lists have been made detailing the best public access golf courses globally, Pebble Beach has traditionally sat at the very top of this list. A true public golf course, albeit eye wateringly expensive, Pebble offers every golfer the ability to play like the pros on a course that never fails to deliver views and experiences that leave you lost for words.

If you are planning a trip to Pebble Beach for the first time, take note of these notes as you decide how to structure your trip and whether it is right for you in the first place.

  1. Pebble Beach is not just a golf course

While I’m sure this is common knowledge to most, Pebble Beach Golf course is one of many golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula and a group of courses formally part of Pebble Beach Resorts. Spyglass Hill, The Links at Spanish Bay, and now the new Tiger Woods designed short course, The Hay, are all close to Pebble Beach Golf Course itself. 

Del Monte Golf Course is also part of the Pebble Beach Resort group and offers a much more cost-effective golfing option if you need some balance in your golf trip. Also, nearby Pebble is Poppy Hills golf course, which whilst not seaside, offers splendid golf at reasonable pricing, for the area at least.

For most readers of this blog, the other famous courses near Pebble will be worth a glimpse if you can sneak one, but that might be about it Cypress Point Golf Club is routinely located in the top handful of courses worldwide, and you can see parts of the course on the famous 17 Mile Drive. Monterey Peninsula Country Club offers 2 members-only tracks that are also of premium quality.

Whilst there is no pressure to play a set number of courses on any given golf trip, it is worth doing your research. As per #2, things can get pricey if you want a longer stay.

  1. Pebble Beach is expensive

It is no secret that Pebble Beach is expensive. The Pebble Beach course itself is USD 575 per round, not including caddies and additional costs. Spyglass is $415, and The Links at Spanish Bay is $295. If you want to stay on-site, which does aid in securing tee time, expect to drop another $1000 per night at least. Twilight rates are a bit cheaper at the likes of Spanish Bay if you do embark on a 36 hole adventure.

Checking your credit card or bank account balance post-trip is a good idea.

If you are planning a trip with friends, best to bring this info up right at the start of the planning experience as this may be a very fair blocker for some, and you are best to know this early.

  1. Is Pebble Beach worth it ?

To be fully transparent, I have been to Pebble Beach once. I only played the Pebble Beach golf course as a single, and I stayed off-site. This was several years back now, and I still struggle to answer the question about whether the round was worth the cost I paid.

On one level, there are a handful of golf holes that are instantly recognizable to any passionate golfer in the world. When I was playing those holes, I could imagine everyone from Tiger to Jack to Arnie walking the same fairways as I was on, and that was truly special. Equally, there were other moments on the course where I could have been on any wonderfully manicured golf course in the world. Plus, on the day I played, we ended up playing a 3 hour 30 minute back nine, so my personal patience was being tested.

Growing up in New Zealand, where we are very spoiled by public access golf courses with amazing scenery, has impacted my opinion of what courses like this should be worth, which is a bit unfair on Pebble as history is priceless in many ways.

Looking back, I certainly don’t resent the money paid. And I have wasted money on a lot worse things in my wife. But equally, I would always fully support anyone who chooses the figure is too much for them as it’s a very subjective call.

If I were planning another trip, I would ensure it was with others to enjoy the day with, and I would consider throwing in The Hay for a fun way to finish the day. But I would certainly struggle to justify multiple rounds at the premium tracks.

  1. Should I go to the Monterey Peninsula and just play the other courses ?

No, but that is a personal opinion. I am sure the other courses on site are amazing in their own right, but they are not the main event. If you are a passionate golfer, do the 17 Mile Drive trek, and you will see a lot of amazing golf. Yes, you will feel red hot anger that you are not on course, but I think you will recover from this in time.

It is important to note, however, as per #5, that if you are not staying on-site and banking on getting a non-resort booking, this can only be done at late notice on Pebble itself. So do be prepared that this is always a potential.

  1. Staying at the resort does not get you a discount .. other than free carts. So be prepared to nervously be calling and checking booking lists in the 24 hours before your Pebble Round when non resort guests can typically book.

This is a real ‘chicken and egg’ problem if you are flying or traveling in for a special once-in-a-lifetime trip and would not be able to live with yourself if you could not play Pebble itself. It may simply be a case of having to stay onsite or playing in the middle of off-peak seasons when you should be safe to get time. Also, if you are attempting late bookings with friends, be prepared to play as singles to get out.

One great thing Pebble does offer is a booking calendar where you can see availability for the final 24 scramble if you do choose this option.

  1. Be prepared for rough weather. Monterey Peninsula is famous for fog and damp conditions. Temperatures can drop suddenly and increase just as quickly. And you can be sure through all these conditions you will be playing golf. So prepare accordingly and take lots of layers.
  1. If you are planning on taking a cart, look into a caddy – Costs do not increase a whole lot and if nothing else you will have a friend to chat too all day. I know I wished I had picked this option during the very long back nine.
  1. Take a second ball if you want… at any point – Golf is hard. Pebble Beach makes it harder. There are holes that you will have seen all your life and may be playing for the first time. If you have a shocker on the 7th. Hit another ball. Enjoy yourself. I promise you that your score will be irrelevant in years to come but your memories will be priceless.
  1. Soak up the little things – If you have paid your money to golf at Pebble do everything you can to enjoy your day. Experience the locker rooms. Take as many photos as you want. Look for the famous landmarks around the course such as the plaque pointing out the Shot heard round the world. If it is your day to enjoy.
  1. Don’t get distracted by the rest of life – If you have taken the plunge to stay and play at Pebble ensure you make the most of it. Don’t try to squeeze in work meetings or too many other activities. Enjoy your experience for what is it worth and soak up all that Pebble has to offer.

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