This story first appeared in the Summer 2019 Edition of Pebble Beach Magazine. It was written by Tom Mackin.
Women’s amateur and professional golf has a rich history at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one that started with the Pebble Beach Championship for Women, which was played from 1923 through 1951.
It also hosted two U.S. Women’s Amateur championships (1940 and 1948), followed by the LPGA Weathervane Transcontinental Women’s Open (a four-part tournament whose first stop was held at Pebble Beach in 1950 and 1951), and the California Women’s Amateur (1967-1986).
More recent events have included the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, which has featured PGA, LPGA, PGA Tour Champions and Web.com tour players since 1979 (Hall of Fame golfer Juli Inkster won in 1990 ), and the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee, which, since 2004, has paired senior professional golfers with junior girls and boys.
While the biggest championship of them all was missing, that will change when the U.S. Women’s Open tees off for the first time at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2023. The best players in the world will come to the Monterey Peninsula in hopes of winning the major – the 14th USGA championship to be played at Pebble Beach – and no one may be more fired up than LPGA golfer Mina Harigae. The Monterey native, who finished second in the 2018 TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational after shooting a final-round 66 at Pebble Beach, was thrilled by the announcement.
“Hearing that Pebble Beach was going to be the site of our U.S. Open in 2023 was the most exciting news I had heard about women’s golf,” says Harigae, who has played in nine U.S. Women’s Open championships since 2007. “I immediately started thinking of how hard the USGA would set up the course and how it might differ from the men’s U.S. Opens there.”
I immediately started thinking of how hard the USGA would set up the course and how it might differ from the men's U.S. Opens there.
Harigae, who attended Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, notes that U.S. Women’s Open setups are quite harder than a typical LPGA event. “The rough is much thicker, greens are usually the firmest and fastest of the year and the yardages are typically played a lot longer,” she says. “I remember there was a 230-yard par-3 at Oakmont (in 2010), and I was in between a roped 3-wood or a soft driver. Par is a very good score at a U.S. Open, whereas at an LPGA (non-major) event, you have to be under par just to make the cut.”
After having played Pebble Beach at least 20 times in competitive events, Harigae points out two keys to scoring well: “Placing your second shots on the green in the correct spots,” she says, “because you can get some nasty putts if you don’t. And you have to have great feel on the greens because of the severity of the slopes.”
And, yes, she has her sights set on qualifying for the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open. “It would be a dream come true to play our national championship in my hometown.”