Please excuse us, you fine Scots strolling the Old Course at St. Andrews Links.
And a nod of acknowledgement to our neighbors teeing it up at Cypress Point Golf Club.
Sorry to all of you, but when it comes to making an argument for the best golf course in the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links has the best score over 18 holes.
There has been good reason to call Pebble the greatest meeting of land, sea and links; the Taj Mahal of golf.
The collective great minds of the USGA knew it was so, that's why they chose the course to host its 100th birthday party in 2000.
And now Pebble Beach Golf Links, which has been open for nearly 100 years itself, is poised to host another U.S.
So what exactly are some of the things that make Pebble Beach the best golf course on the planet? In honor of the course's 18 holes, here are 18 things that make the course so special:
1. HAVE CASH? COME PLAY
Sure, the green fee of $495 at Pebble Beach is one of the highest anywhere, but if you have the cash you can play it. Good luck getting onto Cypress Point or Pine Valley unless you know a member. Bill Gates, who's drowning in money, has tried for years to get onto Augusta National. No luck yet. On the Old Course at St. Andrews, players must carry a specific handicap index, meaning that if you're not a good golfer you're not playing.
2. THE BEAUTY OF THE CARMEL BAY SHORE
St. Andrews features a coastline, but it's not nearly as spectacular as Carmel Bay. Cypress Point gives you magnificent holes abutting the Pacific Ocean, but there's only a handful. At Pebble Beach, there a whopping nine holes - Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,17 and 18 - that run beside Carmel Bay. Mark Twain once declared that "golf was a good walk spoiled.
3. A COURSE DEAR TO THE GOLDEN BEAR'S HEART
"If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach." That's what Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, has said. That's right, Jack Nicklaus, who has won a record 18 major titles and is considered by many to be the greatest golfer ever. Nicklaus is also the only player to win both a U.S. Amateur title and U.S. Open crown at Pebble Beach. "How could you not love Pebble Beach? It's one of the most gorgeous settings in the U.S. and they put a golf course on it." Nicklaus played his last major round at Pebble, in the 2000 U.S. Open.
Augusta National, home of the Masters, has Amen Corner, a three-hole stretch made famous by Arnold Palmer in 1958. St. Andrews has the Road Hole, which has been described as the toughest par-4 hole in the world. Pine Valley has Hell's Half Acre, a barren stretch of wasteland on hole No. 7 that is arguably the biggest bunker on the planet. At Pebble Beach, there are the "Cliffs of Doom," a stretch of three coastline holes - Nos. 8, 9 and 10 -that can humble the best of golfers. In the third round of the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Gil Morgan saw a huge lead crumble as he went double-bogey, bogey, double-bogey through the three holes. He eventually lost to Tom Kite.
5. WHEN FEAR TURNS TO EXHILARATION
The approach shot on No. 8 will scare the bejeezus out of you, but it's also exhilarating. While Cypress Point has its drive across the ocean on the par-3 16th, the approach shot on No. 8 at Pebble Beach is the greatest second shot in golf. Following their drives, players on the par-4 eighth find themselves looking at a forced carry shot to a small target green that is some 100 feet below and across a deep Pacific Ocean chasm. As players try to focus on the shot, the green below also slopes severely from the back toward - you guessed it - the cliffs. "The second shot at No.
6. SO MANY STORIES, SO MUCH HISTORY
St. Andrews is considered the birthplace of golf. Augusta National's roots go back to the legendary Bobby Jones. But Pebble Beach has its legacy too: Jack Nicklaus winning the 1961 U.S. Amateur. Nicklaus'1-iron on No. 17 to win the 1972 U.S. Open. Johnny Goodman stunning Jones in the 1929 U.S. Amateur. Tom Watson's pitch shot on No. 17 to win the 1982 U.S. Open. Tom Kite conquering the wind to capture the 1992 U.S. Open. Tiger Woods' record-shattering U.S. Open triumph in2000. Bing Crosby and his Clambake. Arnold Palmer on the rocks. Hale Irwin's miracle shot off the rocks at No. 18 in the1984 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Byron Nelson returning to win the Pro-Am in 1951. Ben Hogan winning the 1949 Pro-Am. Johnny Miller's three Pro-Am titles in three different decades. Mark 'The Prince of Pebble Beach' O'Meara's five Pro-Am wins. Jack Lemmon chasing the Pro-Am cut. Three-time British Women's Amateur winner Joyce Wethered's visit in 1935.Betty Jameson's win in the 1940 U.S. Women's Amateur. Lanny Wadkins' sudden death victory in the 1977 PGA Championship. And that's just a small sampling.
7. THE PICTURE PERFECT SEVENTH HOLE
The par-3 15th and 16th holes at Cypress Point are wonders in themselves, and No.13 at Augusta National is gorgeous. But thanks to public access, there may be no hole in golf that's been photographed more than the par-3 seventh at Pebble Beach. On a clear day, with Point Lobos and Carmel Beach in the background and waves crashing on the rocks near the green, No. 7 can make you forget you're even on a golf course. In 2000, Golf Digest called it "the best little hole in golf." At only 106 yards, this beauty is indeed short, but it can also be a beast. If the wind is blowing, players can go from using a wedge off the tee to a 5-iron. There's history on No. 7 too. In the final round of the1992 U.S. Open, Tom Kite pitched in for birdie a la Tom Watson on No.17 after missing the green. The birdie gave Kite the lead, and he went on to win.
8. THE SHAPELY FIGURE OF THE LINKS LAYOUT
Think of it as a long, lean figure 8, laid out to make the most of its best feature - the Carmel Bay coastline. Your first glimpse of the water comes on No. 3, which tees off directly toward Carmel Bay. From there you're never too far from the water. You make the turn at 11 and then 12 and13 parallel the coast-hugging ninth and10th. No. 14 swings you back toward 17Mile Drive, while 15 parallels the popular tourist route. No. 16 takes you back toward the water and the beautiful home-stretch of 17 and 18.
9. THE GHOST OF DER BINGLE
Known by most as a singer and actor, Bing Crosby also made magic happen on the grand stage that is Pebble Beach. The two were such a hit that Crosby, whose Pro-Am helped popularize golf in the1950s and 1960s, today is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Behind the first tee area at Pebble Beach there's a plaque commemorating Crosby and his tournament. Crosby, who owned a house on the13th hole, once remarked, "to be allowed to stage a golf tournament in such environs is like the Louvre granting choice gallery space to an aspiring artist so he can display his efforts." Even a world-renowned icon like Crosby knew who the real star was.
10. MOST IMPORTANT STOP ON THE CHAMPIONS TOUR
Two different PGA Tour sponsored events on the same course each year? Only at Pebble Beach. While the AT&T Pro-Am brings together celebrities and members of the PGA Tour, The First Tee Open pairs pros from the Champions Tour and some of the best junior golfers in the country. The tournament, held at Pebble Beach each Labor Day weekend, benefits The First Tee, whose mission is to impact the lives of young people by pro-viding learning facilities and education programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through golf. "It's the most important event we have on our tour," said Champions Tour member John Cook.
11. EMBRACING THE DIVERSE WORLD OF GOLF
Like The First Tee Open, the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational is unique. In this case, it's the only annual golf tournament in the world that features stars from the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour and Nationwide Tour competing head-to-head for the same purse. Among those who have played in the event include Greg Norman, Johnny Miller, Tom Lehman, Annika Sorenstam and David Duval. Held each weekend prior to Thanksgiving, one bonus of the event is that it's free to spectators. Another is the fall weather. To make it even more attractive, fans are allowed "inside the ropes" access, meaning they can walk the fairways with their favorite players. Known locally as the PBI, it's arguably the best golf event out there that no one from outside the area has heard of.
12. PEBBLE BEACH IS GREEN WITH ECO-FRIENDLINESS
These days it's important to be green, and Pebble Beach is just that. In 2009, the course achieved recertification as a "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" by Audubon International for maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Since1989, the resort has annually recycled 1.1million pounds of plastic, cardboard, glass, and other materials and since 1992 has generated 2,500 tons of compost from green waste. Other highlights include the use of high-quality recycled water for irrigation and the planting of 25,000 native, drought-resistant plants and 3,000 trees annually around the property.
13. OWNERS WHOSE AUTOGRAPHS YOU'D LOVE
Arnold Palmer never won at Pebble and Clint Eastwood never won the Pro-Am title, but they own the place. In 1999,Palmer, Eastwood and a group of others including former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth purchased Pebble Beach for $820 million from its then-Japanese owners. Most recently, Palmer was the chief adviser in making changes to the course in preparation for the U.S. Open. Eastwood, on the other hand, still comes out on Sunday of the AT&T Pro-Am and The First Tee Open to hand out the winners' trophy.
14. THE GOLF HOLE FATALE
At Augusta National, it's Camelia, the 495-yard, par-4tenth hole, while at St. Andrews it's the Road Hole. At Pebble Beach, the hole that can leave players begging for mercy is the 572-yard, par-514th. No. 14, a dogleg right that plays as a true par-5, isn't just long. It also features a delicate uphill third shot to a small target. How dicey can things get around the green? Just ask Paul Goydos, who saw his chances at the 2010 AT&T Pro-Am go up in smoke after carding a 9 there. Or Phil Mickelson, who had an 11 on No. 14 during the 2008 Pro-Am. Even Arnold Palmer has felt the bite of No.14, carding a 9 in the final round to lose the 1967 Pro-Am. "It's easily the most scenic as well as thehardest hole in the world," said formerAT&T Pro-Am regular Peter Jacobsen. "Even without the wind and rain that you'll sometimes find there, it's tough."
15. GOT TO GIVE IT UP FOR THE FORGOTTEN MEN
Pebble Beach caddies have become a part of the tradition and history of the course. They know the layout better than any one, and are there to guide you. There have been some great ones, too. After helping Nicklaus win the 1961 U.S. Amateur, Alvin 'Didi' Gonzales looped for the Golden Bear every time he came to Pebble Beach. The duo also won the 1967 Pro-Am. "Didi taught me about Pebble's greens," Nicklaus later recalled. "He was great." There have been guys like Casey Boyns, a member of the California Golf Hall of Fame. He hasn't just looped Pebble Beach; he's won there, capturing the prestigious California State Amateur Championship crown twice (1989, 1993). As the saying at Pebble Beach goes, "If you want to walk Pebble Beach, take a cart. If you want to play Pebble Beach, take a caddie."
16. REALLY, THIS SHOULD BE THE 19TH HOLE
Cypress Point's bar has "Sam's Special" and there are the pimento cheese sandwiches at Augusta National. Again though, good luck getting a chance to enjoy either. At Pebble Beach, one of the best after-golf experiences is the Tap Room. Filled with memorabilia from the Crosby Clambakes, the Tap Room is grand in scale but still cozy. If you're thirsty, order a pint or sip on a 'Palmer on the Rocks,' a cocktail created the day after Palmer got stuck in the rocks off of No. 17. The perfect place to soak it all up.
17. HARD TO TOP THE DREAM-MAKER/HEARTBREAKER
Both the 15th and 16th holes at Cypress Point are gorgeous, and No. 12 at Augusta National istough. But there may be no more beautiful, potentially lethal and historicpar-3 in golf than No.17 at Pebble Beach. It's the hole where Tom Watson pitched in from the rough to steal the 1982 U.S. Open title from Jack Nicklaus. Ten year's prior to Watson, it's where Nicklaus stiffed a 1-ironto within five inches of the pin to wrap up the 1972 U.S. Open. On the other hand, the hole has also left plenty a player sick to their stomach. In the 2001 AT&T Pro-Am, Vijay Singh could have taken the lead over eventual winner Davis Love III, but instead Singh pulled his tee shot into the Pacific. In the final round of the 1994 Pro-Am, Watson had a chance to tie Johnny Miller but three-putted for bogey. No.17 is the dream-maker and heartbreaker of Pebble Beach.
18. THE GREATEST CLOSING HOLE IN GOLF
Pros, amateurs and weekend hackers, they all get goose bumps. On your left is the Pacific. Up ahead on your right is The Lodge, where the decks and patios are often packed with fans. There is simply no better place to finish a golf round, and for some, there is no better place to finish as a winner. Recently, when asked about the most memorable moment from his 2006AT&T Pro-Am victory, Arron Oberholser pointed to the walk up the 18th fairway. "That was one of the most enjoyable walks I've ever had on a golf course," Oberholser said.
Learn more about the Monterey Bay area at MontereyBayAdventures.com.