Spyglass Hill Golf Course takes its theme from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, Treasure Island, published in 1883. Local legend maintains that Stevenson once wandered the Spyglass area gathering ideas for his novels. And with this in mind, Robert Trent Jones Sr. set about creating a treasure of his own.
Opened in 1966, Spyglass Hill features two distinctly different kinds of terrain that influence the way the holes look and play. The first five holes roll through sandy seaside dunes, challenging you to carefully pick the safest path. The following 13 holes are cut through majestic pines with elevated greens and strategically placed bunkers and lakes to grab the errant shot. Treasure Island-inspired hole names such as “Black Dog” and “Billy Bones” are hints for the unwary.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course is rated one of the toughest courses in the world from the Championship tees, boasting a course rating of 75.5 and a slope rating of 144. The PGA TOUR consistently lists Spyglass Hill holes 6, 8 and 16 among the toughest on the TOUR, and during the 1999 United States Amateur, the stroke average of the field during medal play was in excess of 79.
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On a clear day, you can stand on this tee and see the Santa Cruz mountains, Monterey Bay and the canopy of the Del Monte Forest. The hole then falls downhill to the left, ending on a large green whose surface resembles gentle ocean swells.
While relatively short, the hole plays uphill and is surrounded by trouble, primarily sand and ice plant. Two very precise shots are required.
There is a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean from this elevated tee that, in the absence of wind, makes the hole play shorter than the yardage. The green is deceptive, sloping from front to back.
This is Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s favorite par-4 because of its options. If the pin is in back, the approach should be played from the right side of the fairway. If in front, the left side is the better angle. The green is Spyglass Hill's most photographed.
Bird Rock is a straightforward par-3 framed by dunes in back and three pot bunkers in front. The center bunker is the deepest and most difficult on the course. Another bunker is hidden from view and awaits stray shots to the right.
The character of Spyglass Hill changes from this hole onward. From the tee, players wind their way up and into the Del Monte Forest. The view from behind this green is spectacular; however, the severely downhill chip shot from this position is less than desirable.
An elevated tee makes this a reachable par-5. While there are no greenside bunkers, a pond penalizes anything left and short. The right-to-left sloping green makes chip and pitch even more troublesome. This is a tempting hole off the tee, but it requires complete precision from the fairway.
Signal Hill is, perhaps, the longest hole under 400 yards in the world. The second shot is even more uphill than the tee shot. The green is elevated and crowned with the hole's only bunker protecting its right side. This is the number one handicap hole.
Captain Smollett is yet another uphill par-4. A massive green (the second largest on the course) is guarded by deep bunkers. Tremendous slope from back to front makes putting from above the hole a challenge.
After two tough, lengthy uphill par-4's to close the front, this is a downhill getaway hole to begin the back side. A drive down the left side may be blocked by a tree, which cannot be seen from the tee. Any approach that lands past the center of the green will go over.
A dogleg-right par-5 is characterized by a necklace of bunkers protecting the right side of the green. While beautiful to look at from a distance, these bunkers are very costly to play from.
Water comes into play on three of the next four holes. The left side of this green should never be a target since balls have a tendency to spin off into the pond.
The fairway rises steadily uphill as it bends slightly to the left. Another elevated green deflects any off-line shot although a straight run-up shot will work.
This is a double dogleg swinging right then left. A pond protects the right side of this shallow but very wide green. A difficult chip awaits those who are too aggressive and go long.
This is the shortest hole on the course yet far from the easiest. The green is framed by bunkers in back and another pond in front. Beware, balls spin back into it. Anything left bounces farther down a steep hill.
A drive too long may run through this fairway. A tree, which cannot be seen from the tee, blocks the right side. However, when past this tree, the green opens up, so it may be worth the gamble. Then again...
Ben Gunn offers a change of pace and is unlike any other hole at Spyglass Hill. The landing area can't be seen from the tee and the green surface can't be seen from the fairway. The hole's many bunkers and its sloping green offset the short yardage. Above the cup is treacherous.
The tee points toward the right fairway bunker, so a slight draw is perfect. An elevated green with a rise separating the front from the back awaits the second shot. Any shot that lacks precision will be detoured into the surrounding trouble.
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Spyglass Hill Golf Course has ranked among the Top 100 courses in America and the world for over 40 years—an incredible honor for an unforgettable course.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course takes its inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, Treasure Island.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Spyglass Hill is considered one of the toughest courses on Earth.Course History
For over four decades, Spyglass Hill has co-hosted one of the most beloved Pro-Ams, the Crosby (now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am).Course History
"Spyglass is old-school, traditional, challenging golf at its finest. Small greens that are typically in excellent shape, sloping fairways, swirling breezes, and a timeless design will keep you on your toes the entire time."
- Jerry Foltz
"Spyglass has a unique feeling of unpredictability, since the front and back nine are almost two completely different courses. But what courses they are."
- Benjamin Hogan
"One of the best courses in America. The first 5 holes are along the coast and the rest of the holes weave through the forest. Great challenge. Wonderful staff everywhere you turn. An unforgettable golfing experience."