Pebble Beach, the longtime destination for golf on the Monterey Peninsula, offers both public and private play on dramatic bluffs with emblematic trees and a cool ocean mist. The coastal community has had its ups and downs over the years, but its best days are certainly ahead of it. Revived, revered and ready for your visit, it boasts some of the most stunning shots in the country.
It’s hard to narrow down just a few favorites on the sprawling Peninsula, but we’ll try. Here are our top three golf holes at Pebble Beach and tips for playing them. But don’t take our word for it. Go and experience for yourself.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, 6th Hole
The weather is a year-round threat and the cliffs of the California coast play into visitor’s spectacular views. The right-hand side of this hole is lined with the Pacific Ocean with perilous cliffs and instant disaster for golfers missing to the right.
The left-hand side of the first fairway is blocked by a series of bunkers and long thick grass. To play at a championship level at Pebble Beach, golfers have to pick and choose their shots while avoiding treachery on a fairly narrow approach and a tee shot.
For golfers unable to hit professional tee shots 300 yards off the tee box, play it forward and this hole becomes much more manageable. Your tee shot needs to be struck well as the first fairway is several dozen yards uphill.
Depending on how far into the fairway you get, the second shot will have to be hit very hard to cut the corner between the first and second hole. A lay upshot is possible to avoid carrying the water.
If going for the green on your third shot, the green is protected on both sides by bunkers. A favorable shot is a front left of the green to avoid bunkers. Once on the green expect a fairly fast green and several undulations.
Cypress Point Golf Course, Hole #16
This course on the Monterey Peninsula features stunning views and incredible tee shots. With several backdrops of the Pacific Ocean and cliffs give golfers a full view of the scenic ocean views.
No view is more picturesque and fantastic as the 16th hole. This 235 par three stretches the distance of many golfers. A thunderous tee shot, in some cases a driver, is needed to hit the front edge of the green. The distance is complicated by the bay style water hazard that cuts into the fairway landing location on mishits. Anything short of great contact will be swallowed up by jagged rocks and the punishing Pacific Ocean.
Even after smashing a tee shot over the initial bay cut out, water is still in play near the hole. With the front right-hand side of the green protected by rocks and ocean, golfers are encouraged to stay left. Depending on the ocean breeze during the round, golfers may get a boost from winds pushing the ball right to left. Unfortunately, favorable winds only prevent tragedy from the right. The left front and back of the green are protected by one of four bunkers. Winds pushing short shots right to left are likely to end up in the front side bunkers. Overshooting the green will land you in the back bunkers. Once on the green, be prepared to tackle undulating and unforgiving greens that force peak concentration.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Hole #14
A unique challenge is presented by the double dogleg 14th at Spyglass Hill. Named Long John Silver, this hole bends in multiple directions forcing excellent course management to remain even.
The tee shot is relatively harmless coming out of chute protected by tall pine trees on either side. A well-struck driver shot will likely land you in the midst of the first dog leg section. Curling left to right, golfers with the distance should aim for the ridge of trees lining the right-hand side. If you are able to hit a slight fade, lining the shot up with the middle of the fairway will fade the ball back to safety and setting up for an excellent second shot.
Even with a powerful first tee shot, golfers find themselves even more challenged for their approach. A precariously placed pond blocks two-thirds of the front right-hand side of the green. The dog leg left creates an allusion of the minimal landing area as the fairway disappears as you approach the pond. Depending on pin location, the second shot is infinitely more difficult. A pin location near the middle of the large green yields the smallest landing area for golfers trying to reach the green in two.
The back left of the green is protected by two bunkers that make a left-hand side pin location very difficult. For those willing to lay up and play a shot in front of the water, be wary of the pin location. This green is built to confuse and challenge. With heavy undulations and shelves, be prepared to two-putt. Since this is a par five, a safety shot in front of the water is advisable. Golfers are able to more aggressively attack the pin with a high-lofted wedge.
Jordan Fuller is a golf mentor and coach. He loves to write about golf and owns a publication site, www.golfinfluence.com, where he shares tips and guides.