A Short Course with a Long Pedigree
Peter Hay Golf Course was named for Peter Hay, the long-time Pebble Beach golf professional who worked with Jack Neville and General Robert McClure to design this compact course. Hay is credited with the final design, which had only a couple of bunkers and relied on manual watering.
Peter Hay was born near Aberdeen, Scotland on February 4, 1885, where he began his career as a caddie at the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. In 1913, he came to San Francisco to visit his sister and decided to stay. He became a salesman for Spalding golf equipment.
In 1915, he made his way to the Del Monte Golf Course—the premier course in the state and home of the California State Amateur Championship. He was hired on as caddy master and took on a stable of several young local lads for a year-and-a-half. He left the area briefly to run the Stockton Golf and Country Club, but in 1919 he returned to Del Monte Golf Course as the Head Golf Professional.
Peter Hay stayed on at the original Del Monte course until 1943. He certainly conferred with all the development of golf on the peninsula, and took an active role as Chief Marshal during the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.
During the opening round, the crowd following Bobby Jones began running between shots to catch a glimpse of the superstar. To prevent total chaos, Peter Hay let out a continuous bellow of “Don’t run, don’t run.” This became Hay’s trademark. Although Jones was eliminated early, he sent Peter Hay an autographed photo inscribed “To Peter Hay, The greatest golf marshal in the world.”
In 1937, Hay started the Peter Hay Junior Golf Tournament. This was only one symbol of his dedication to working with youth. Peter Hay believed that through golf he could instruct the youth in the disciplines and rules of conduct they would need throughout life. Peter personally provided all of the prizes.
In 1943, the war was on. S.F.B. Morse deemed it prudent to close the Del Monte Course, and moved Hay over to Pebble Beach. He brought his youth tournament with him. Hay is largely responsible for resolving the dispute as to whether Pebble Beach is a “course” or a “links.” Hay always insisted that any golf layout along the ocean was a links, as contrasted with an inland layout, which he called a course.
Although Hay came to PBGL, he didn’t abandon Del Monte. As a Monterey City Councilman, he convinced the city to take on the course and run it “for the duration of the war,” which they did, actually, until 1948.
In 1947, Bing Crosby brought his tournament to the Peninsula, and Peter Hay was at Pebble Beach to assure everything was in order. At the time the other two peninsula pros (Cam Puget at MPCC and Henry Puget at CPC) had literally grown up under Hay’s tutelage—first as caddies and then assistants under Peter Hay at Del Monte. There was no question who was in charge.
A few years later, in a particularly wet and windy Crosby tournament, Cary Middlecoff quit, complaining he couldn’t even tee up his ball. Peter sent him back out stating, “Where in the rule book does it say that you have to tee up your ball?” Middlecoff obeyed, and came close to winning. Peter Hay’s commands were said to have, “shaken the sea lions at both Cypress Point and Point Joe.”
In addition to his golf duties, Peter Hay was a member of the Monterey City Council from 1933-1947, and an active member and one-time president of the Monterey Rotary Club. He was also a Scottish Mason, and would travel back to Scotland every few years to visit family. Some rumored the trips were only to keep his brogue sharpened.
Upon his death, March 10, 1961, at the age of 76, longtime employer and friend Samuel F.B. Morse said, “His whole life was dedicated in a most conscientious and loyal manner to the furtherance of the game of golf through the world and especially here. When he came here in 1916, there was only one course and the great development of the sport here was due largely to his efforts.”
Jack Neville was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1891, but his family moved to California and he learned to play golf at Oakland’s Claremont Country Club at a time when George Smith (brother of 1899 U.S. Open Champion Willie Smith) was the pro, and Jim Barnes (winner of the 1916 & 1919 PGA, 1921 U.S. Open and 1925 British Open) was head greenskeeper.
Neville went on to become a five-time champion of the California State Amateur championship, winning the inaugural event in 1912 at the age of 20. He won again in 1913 and 1919, the last year the championship match was held on Del Monte Golf Course. His final two championships were won on his own Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1922 and 1929. He also played on the 1928 Walker Cup Team.
He sold real estate for the company for most of his life, so he was close at hand when called on to work with Douglas Grant to design the seaside links at Pebble Beach in 1916, and again to assist Peter Hay in designing his 9-hole course in 1957. He later assisted Robert Baldock with the design of Monterey Peninsula’s Shore Course and personally designed the ocean nine of the Pacific Grove municipal golf course.
Reports are that he also did a preliminary design for The Links at Spanish Bay in the early 1970s, but no drawings exist. Sandy Tatum consulted with Neville in preparing Pebble Beach Golf Links for the 1972 U.S. Open. Neville died in 1978 at the age of 86.
General Robert McClure
General Robert McClure was an army man through and through, but he also loved golf. If he wanted a course, he built it on the base. How many courses he actually built is unclear, but his two best known are Applewood, at Fort Meade, Maryland (1950) and Bayonet at Fort Ord, California (1954).
Some sources also credit him with Black Horse at Fort Ord, California (1964)—or at least the original nine-hole course there—and Peter Hay credits him with an assist on the Peter Hay course (1957).
McClure received his early training at the New York Military Academy (class of 1915) and from there saw active duty in World War I, earning the Distinguished Service Cross as a 2nd Lt. at Bellieu Bois, France, for maintaining command while severely wounded. During World War II, Col. McClure led the 35th Infantry in taking Mount Austin at Guadalcanal in early 1943.
As Brig. General, he served as the Landing Force Commander under Admiral Halsey during the amphibious phase of the Vella Lavella operation in the Solomon Islands in July-August 1943; later served as commander of the 84th Infantry (1943-44); and then headed-up training of Chinese divisions (1944-1945) as Chief of Staff to Maj. General Albert Wedemeyer.
After the war he served as Division Commander of the Second Infantry before taking command of Fort Meade and then Fort Ord. McClure retired to Carmel, California in the early 1960s and continued to enjoy golf.
When Bing Crosby needed assistance in the 1940s with getting scores in from the golf course, McClure offered the army radio squad, who kept scores feeding into the headquarters while getting experience with new radio equipment. He played in a few of The Crosby Pro-Ams, where his best finish came in 1954 when he paired with professional Peter Thompson to finish fifth—two strokes back of a four-way tie for first.