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We’ve covered how to play over a scary bunker (No. 14), out of other tricky bunkers (Nos. 7 and 17) and along the ocean (Nos. 10 and 18). Now get ready for the shots you will always remember about your round. Pebble Beach Golf Academy Director of Instruction Laird Small guides us through the five scariest shots at Pebble Beach.
Learn more great tips like these in Laird’s book, “Play Golf the Pebble Beach Way,” which is available at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy. Call 831-622-8250 for more information.
Now, here are the shots that define your round at Pebble Beach:
What feels like a gallery is always milling around the pro shop, which is right next to the first tee. The added eyeballs add some extra nerves to a tee shot you’ve no doubt been looking forward to since you went to bed.
The good news is this shot is one of the simplest on the course. At shorter than 380 yards from every tee, play a layup to the fat of the dogleg and short of the bunker that leaves you 140 yards in. To further quell those nerves, keep in mind that anxiousness will disappear as soon as you hit your tee shot. So imagine five minutes after your tee shot, holding a short iron while standing in the middle of the fairway.
Without wind, the downhill 106-yard shot plays a simple 85 yards. Of course, the exposed hole at the tip of Arrowhead Point can play a lot more than that – in practice rounds at this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, pros were knocking down 5-irons.
But let’s say you’ve caught a perfect day without wind. This shot still intimidates because everyone knows this hole, and friends will ask how you did after the round. The tendency is to tighten up and steer the shot, resulting in a pull left or a bladed wedge over the green. But you can prepare for this shot. Practice your 85-yard shot when you warm up. If you dial in what you need to hit, you’ll remove most of the doubt and fear you’d otherwise face. Trust the shot and make your best swing.
Jordan Spieth calls No. 6 “one of my favorite holes in the world.” He relishes the challenge of a blind second shot that must rise quickly over the face of a cliff from a downhill lie that wants to shoot your ball low and right and into the ocean. So how do you hit this shot?
Feel like you are putting more weight on your forward leg, and that your left shoulder is lower than your right at address. This will help you hit down on the ball, and help it get up in the air. Take a few practice swings, and try to take a divot just past the ball. Then pick your line, add 15 yards for the uphill, and let ‘er rip.
For the first 13 driving holes at Pebble Beach, you can miss left and stay dry. But for your final drive, the ocean hugs the left side of this famous hole. If you want to have any chance of reaching the 543-yard par-5 in two shots, your drive must split the tree in the fairway and the craggy coastline to the left.
But if you’re not going to reach the 18th green in two, why are you taking on so much risk off the tee? A layup off the tee with a hybrid or 3-wood short of the tree and to the widest part of the fairway turns No. 18 into a manageable 300-yard par-4. Pick a club you like – Tiger Woods hit a 4-iron in the final round of the 2000 U.S. Open – and make a confident swing to a conservative target. Then lay up to your favorite yardage, and you’ll have a wedge in your hands with a chance to make birdie!
Jack Nicklaus loves the drama of this shot, calling it his favorite in all of golf. As your ball hangs in the air, it feels like it can land anywhere: over the green, on the green, down the cliff, or in one of five bunkers.
The second shot requires a 120-yard carry over an 80-foot deep chasm if you have your sights set on the flag. If you lay up your tee shot to the end of the fairway, you’ll be left with 170 yards to the middle of the green.
Having confidence for this shot can be challenging, especially when you look at your target one last time, and your eyes bounce down the cliff before returning to the ball.
But remember a couple things:
Lastly, if it’s your first time playing this shot – enjoy the moment! It’s one of the greatest shots in golf.
What’s the scariest shot you’ve faced at Pebble Beach?
Want to perfect these shots at Pebble Beach? Learn more about Golf Schools at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy.