Pebble Beach Golf Links
The Original Design
In the early part of the 20th century, Samuel F.B. Morse was challenged with making the Pebble Beach area a profitable and attractive real estate investment in order to find a buyer. He decided to create, as an attraction, a one-of-a-kind golf course with unsurpassed scenic beauty and an element of difficulty that would always be challenging and never conquered. Because his job was liquidation, not development, he had to minimize costs. He convinced his board that the course could be maintained by sheep and designed at no cost by two amateur golfers—Jack Neville and Douglas Grant.
“It was all there in plain sight. Very little clearing was necessary. The big thing, naturally, was to get as many holes as possible along the bay. It took a little imagination, but not much. Years before it was built, I could see this place as a golf links. Nature had intended it to be nothing else. All we did was cut away a few trees, install a few sprinklers, and sow a little seed.” –Jack Neville, San Francisco Chronicle, 1972
Two Amateurs Design a Legendary Golf Course
Although neither Neville nor Grant had any experience at course design, the pair designed a championship course that has seen remarkably few changes over the years. The course you now play is a testament to the extraordinary talent and vision of two great amateurs – Jack Neville and Douglas Grant.
And Morse’s plan did, in fact, attract the right buyer. In February 1919, shortly after Pebble Beach Golf Links opened, Morse founded Del Monte Properties Company and bought the property himself. He headed the golfing empire for the next 50 years, until his death in 1969.
When the course was completed in 1919, the California Golf Association was not willing to accept Pebble Beach Golf Links for the State Amateur. Morse turned to his course professional Harold Sampson to take charge of improving the turf and playability of the course, including rebuilding a few greens. He was assisted by a number of top amateurs, most notably Arthur Vincent.
The 18th Hole
S.F.B. Morse retained British golf architect William Herbert Fowler to redesign the old Del Monte Golf Course in 1920. Fowler provided Morse with a complete suggestion to revamp the Pebble Beach course as well, but Morse had him focus on Del Monte. Following the 1921 State Amateur Championship, Morse turned to Fowler to resolve the complaints over the short 379-yard par 4 finishing hole. Assisted by Arthur Vincent and Mark Daniels, Fowler transformed the 18th hole to a 535-yard par 5 that hardly anyone tries to reach in two because of the severe penalty for failure. Today, 18 is quite simply the best finishing hole in golf.
Preparations for the '29 Amateur Championship
In preparation for the 1929 U.S. Amateur Championship, USGA Vice President (and co-founder of Cypress Point Club) Roger Lapham was put in charge of creating a team to prepare Pebble Beach for its first National Championship. In December 1927, Lapham turned to Robert Hunter, author of Links (1926) and then working with Alister Mackenzie on construction of Cypress Point and amateur golfer H. Chandler Egan, who had won back-to-back U.S. Amateurs in 1904 and 1905. The team re-shaped and re-bunkered each green. They moved the 1st tee to create today’s dog-leg opening hole, reconfigured the 10th hole to move the 9th green to the coastline, added length to the 2nd, and 14th holes, and moved the 16th green to a natural depression behind a grove of trees, extending the hole more than 100 yards. Mackenzie who had earlier rebuilt the 8th and 13th green complexes in 1926 was likely consulted for his opinion as well on the Hunter-Egan modifications.
The New 5th Hole
Golf legend Jack Nicklaus designed the new 5th hole on a parcel of prime oceanfront land that Pebble Beach Company had wanted to re-acquire for 80 years.
The New Millennium
As one of the principal owners that purchased Pebble Beach Company in 1999, Arnold Palmer paid personal attention to enhancing Pebble Beach Golf Links in line with the new technology that was resulting in many golfers hitting tee shots in excess of 300 yards. The 1st, 2nd and 15th greens were rebuilt to USGA specifications and new hybrid bent grasses were sought (unsuccessfully) to out-compete the native poa annua greens. Several bunkers were added and reshaped, most notably to holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 15 and 18, and trees were planted to replace key trees that had died along the 90 year old routing – including placing an 85-foot tall cypress near the front of the 18th green.
Ranked #1 among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
Rated one of the toughest courses in the world from the Championship tees.
A true Scottish-style links course and one of the most ecologically sensitive courses in the world.
The oldest golf course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi.
The only 9-hole par-3 golf course open to the public on the Monterey Peninsula.
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