Monday, February 4, 2019

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Inside the Course (Pebble Beach Golf Links)

The final multi-track pro-am of the year takes place this week on Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.  A field of 156 players will tee it up on Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club for the first three rounds, with the top-60 players and ties returning to Pebble Beach for the final round on Sunday. 


Pebble Beach Golf Links is the shortest course on Tour at just 6,812 yards, but this par-72 track offers a picturesque challenge unlike any other.  Greens are some of the smallest anywhere, and when the winds blow it can transform this sleeping beauty into a wicked witch. 

Great iron players flourish at Pebble Beach, and hot putters are always in contention.  Pebble has hosted five U.S. Open championships with a sixth coming this June, but don't expect it to set up like a major this week with amateurs in the field all four days. 


Spyglass Hill Golf Course is the most difficult of the three courses in the rotation.  Some consider Spyglass Hill the best course to never host a major.  The 6,858, par-72 track has larger greens than Pebble, but narrow fairways make it more challenging to avoid the rough. 


The first five holes at Spyglass play along the Pacific Ocean, and then move into the Del Monte Forest for the final 13 holes featuring sloping fairways, devilish doglegs, and water hazards protecting undulating greens.  Great shots are rewarded, but poorly placed shots leave players struggling to score. 

Monterey Peninsula Country Club is a 6,958-yard, par-71, parkland-style course that's exposed to the elements more than any course in the rotation, and extremely intense winds on the coastal holes can be maddening. 


Cypress trees frame the fairways masterfully, and native grasses give Monterey Peninsula a coastal prairie look.  Large green complexes are slow rolling, which give players a green light to attack even the most difficult pin locations. 

Signature Hole (Pebble Beach) 
Pebble’s signature 106-yard, par-3 No. 7 is one of most iconic par-3 holes in the world.  Standing on the tee is equal parts exhilarating and spine-chilling as the hole plunges down from an elevated tee to a small green perched above crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. 


Swirling winds will dictate club selection, and any shot that doesn't hit the green is cause for anxiety.  Hit your tee shot long and it's lost in the ocean forever.  Come up short in one of the two deep bunkers protecting the front and getting up-and-down will be a challenge.  No. 7 is a reckoning that can derail an entire round. 

Birdie Watch (Pebble Beach) 
The 543-yard, par-5 finishing hole at Pebble is a fascinating hole because the more you take on its hazards, the easier every subsequent shot becomes.  Drives into the sweeping right-to-left fairway can be terrifying, but playing it left as close to the water as possible makes second or third shots easier by taking the tree overhanging the putting surface out of play. 


Anything right of the tree in the fairway makes it impossible to reach the green in two, and forces a lay-up that must be hit back towards the ocean.  No. 18 is a thought-provoking hole that always surrenders a good number of birdies, however playing it safe and away from trouble can actually make this hole a nightmare. 

Bogey Alert (Pebble Beach) 
Hugging the coastline from tee to green, the 466-yard, par-4, No. 9 is the most difficult hole on Pebble Beach.  The fairway and green slope left-to-right towards the ocean, and side-hill lies abound making any second shot tricky. 


Ideal drives will find the left-center of the fairway, but a deep fairway bunker on that side has to be avoided at all costs.  Faint-hearted shots on approach will be punished by a deep bunker short and left of the putting surface.  There's simply no room on No. 9 for anything less than absolute precision. 

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