Golf’s Greatest Zip Code: A Tour of the Courses on 17-Mile Drive
A staggering six courses have hosted PGA TOUR events in the 93953 – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, Cypress Point, the Dunes and Shore courses at Monterey Peninsula CC, and Poppy Hills. The one championship course missing – The Links at Spanish Bay – certainly has the pedigree to challenge the game’s best players, but its carefully protected environmentally sensitive habitats restrict gallery sizes to just 5,000. (Spanish Bay is a co-host of the unique three-tour TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational Presented by Dell EMC in November.)
As you meander along 17-Mile Drive, you’ll catch yourself rubbernecking as you pass a total of eight courses — seven championship layouts that populate just about every golfer’s bucket list, plus Peter Hay, which is the only par-3 design on the Monterey Peninsula, and one of the great family-friendly experiences in the country.
Yes, when you hear the name Pebble Beach, you immediately think of Pebble Beach Golf Links. But let’s take a closer look at this golf mecca and all of the courses you catch a glimpse of along 17-Mile Drive:
PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS (PEBBLE BEACH RESORTS)
No public course in the country has such prestigious major championship pedigree as Pebble Beach. Just 10 years after it opened, it was the rare West Coast venue special enough to land a U.S. Amateur, which was played in 1929. Pebble Beach will host its sixth U.S. Open in 2019, its fifth U.S. Amateur in 2018, and has also staged two U.S. Women’s Amateurs and the 1977 PGA Championship.
Pebble Beach is ranked America’s No. 1 public course by every major golf publication. Only the 14th green and 15th hole are visible from 17-Mile Drive, but you intersect Nos. 2 and 3 on your way to Casa Palmero, Nos. 4 and 17 by the entrance to the Beach & Tennis Club, and you can dine overlooking the world-famous 18th hole at Stillwater Bar & Grill and The Bench.
SPYGLASS HILL GOLF COURSE (PEBBLE BEACH RESORTS)
Inspired by the dunes holes at Pine Valley and the pond-fronted greens at Augusta National, Spyglass Hill opened in 1966 and moved straight into the Crosby rotation, replacing the Shore Course at MPCC. The Robert Trent Jones Sr. course has always been considered one of the most challenging tests in the country, as legendary LA Times sports columnist Jim Murray noted in 1967:
“If it were human, Spyglass would have a knife in its teeth, a patch on its eye, a ring in its ear, tobacco in its beard and a blunderbuss in its hand.”
Spyglass Hill will co-host the U.S. Amateur for the second time in 2018. In 1999, no one in the 312-player field broke 70 during medal play, and the scoring average was nearly 80. Golf Digest ranks Spyglass Hill the 11th-best public course in the country, and second-best in California (only behind Pebble Beach). When we asked our Facebook fans to vote for their Pebble Beach Resorts Dream 18, half the holes came back Spyglass Hill.
Nestled between the Shore Course at MPCC and Cypress Point Club, as you drive past Spyglass Hill Road on 17-Mile Drive, look up to the sand dunes climbing the hillside. The first five holes at Spyglass Hill cascade down them for one of the best starts in all of golf.
THE LINKS AT SPANISH BAY (PEBBLE BEACH RESORTS)
Traipsing through sweeping sand dunes along 17-Mile Drive, Spanish Bay unveils some of the most spectacular seaside views in Pebble Beach. The rolling fairways gently flow between gorgeous dunescape, briefly weaving through towering Monterey Pines, before returning to the white sand of Spanish Bay Beach for a thrilling finish along the coast. Golf Digest ranks Spanish Bay as one of the top 50 public courses in the country.
The most striking stretch you can catch from 17-Mile Drive is the fetching eighth hole, a par-3 adjacent to Spanish Bay Beach that carries an intimidating marsh, with picturesque Point Joe and the Dunes Course at MPCC out in the distance.
PETER HAY PAR-3 COURSE (PEBBLE BEACH RESORTS)
Perched on a scenic rolling hillside above Pebble Beach Golf Links and pointing straight at Stillwater Cove, Peter Hay is a nine-hole par-3 course with tee shots ranging from 61-104 yards. Built in 1957, the course was a collaboration between Pebble Beach pro Peter Hay, Pebble Beach co-designer Jack Neville, and Bayonet Golf Course architect General Robert McClure. Peter Hay is also right across the street from the new Pebble Beach Golf Academy & Practice Facility, which opened in 2014.
CYPRESS POINT CLUB (PRIVATE)
This Alister MacKenzie masterpiece is one of the most coveted tee times in the world. (It’s currently ranked No. 4 by Golf Digest.) The intensely private club weaves through a mystical setting of craggy Monterey cypress and sparkling sand dunes that highlight MacKenzie’s unmistakable wavy bunkering and green complexes. Cypress Point culminates with three of the most famous holes in golf: the back-to-back par-3s over the ocean at Nos. 15 and 16, and a par-4 pressed firmly against the Pacific (No. 17).
Before Cypress Point was built, a section of 17-Mile Drive called “The Loop” turned around where the 16th green was eventually built. Now, you can see Nos. 1, 13 and 14 from the Fanshell Beach stop along 17-Mile Drive.
DUNES COURSE — MONTEREY PENINSULA COUNTRY CLUB (PRIVATE)
The Dunes Course just completed a rebuild in 2016 by Tom Fazio. While not currently part of the AT&T rotation, Golf.com says the Dunes Course, coupled with the Shore Course, makes MPCC “the best 36-hole club in America.” The Dunes Course originally hosted the AT&T for 18 consecutive years beginning in 1947, until it was ultimately replaced by the newly constructed Spyglass Hill. The Shore Course at MPCC is currently an AT&T co-host with Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, but don’t be surprised to see the redone Dunes Course join the rota in the coming years.
You can sneak a peek at the first two holes on the Dunes Course (and later between Nos. 8 and 9) on either side of Sloat Road. But the prettiest preview of the Dunes Course comes at Point Joe, when golfers actually cross 17-Mile Drive to play the Alcatraz-like 14th hole. The back tee box and the green both jut out on rocky points into the Restless Sea, creating a magnificent 167-yard carry over the churning ocean, with a silhouetted Monterey cypress framing the hole.
SHORE COURSE — MONTEREY PENINSULA COUNTRY CLUB (PRIVATE)
Mike Strantz completed a renovation and a rebirth of the Shore Course in 2004. The course was most dramatically transformed from Nos. 5-15, an incredible 11-hole shoreline stretch overlooking 17-Mile Drive. Golf Digest slotted it No. 65 in its 100 Greatest Golf Courses ranking. Said Strantz while designing it, “I dreamed that the course would appear to dance among the cypress trees on this coastline forever.”
The Shore Course had spot-starts in the AT&T during the 1965, 1966 and 1977 events, before returning to the tournament full-time in 2010. As you cruise down 17-Mile Drive toward Bird Rock and Spyglass Hill, you’ll see Nos. 10-13 playing parallel to the coastline on your left.
POPPY HILLS GOLF COURSE (PUBLIC)
Built in 1986 and renovated in 2014, Poppy Hills is a co-host with Pebble Beach for the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee on the PGA TOUR Champions. Poppy Hills is also the headquarters of the Northern California Golf Association and its revolutionary Youth on Course program, which allows juniors to play golf for just $5 at more than 400 courses across the country.
As you drive down Lopez Road, the back nine at Poppy Hills is on the north side, and the front nine is on the south side. Poppy Hills was a co-host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am from 1991-2009, and was named Renovation of the Year in 2014 by Golf Digest and Golf.com.