TO SAMUEL F. B. MORSE, it was all too obvious. When Morse arrived on the Monterey Peninsula in 1915 as the new manager of Pacific Improvement Company's holdings, which included the Hotel Del Monte and Del Monte Golf Course, it didn't take long for the Yale graduate to realize the value of land in Pebble Beach.

Originally asked to liquidate properties along Pebble Beach's coastline, the 30-year old Morse instead had visions of converting the land not into residential space, but into a golf resort much like Pinehurst in North Carolina.

After securing rights to buy back or trade for many of the lots to make room for a golf course, Morse went to work on making his vision a reality.

Johnny Goodman rode the rails to Pebble Beach to upset Bobby Jones (right) in the 1929 U.S. Amateur.
Johnny Goodman rode the rails to Pebble Beach to upset Bobby Jones (right) in the 1929 U.S. Amateur.
The former football star hired two amateur golf champions - Jack Neville and Douglas Grant -to lay out the course.

Neville, winner of the 1912 and 1913California Amateur Championships, surveyed the land and found he shared Morse's vision.

"It was all there in plain sight," Neville said. "Little change was needed."

The project wouldn't be as easy as it looked. Among the challenges was 17 Mile Drive, which had to be re-routed. There was also the rocky terrain and lack of turf.

Nevertheless, Morse's dream was realized. On February 22, 1919, Pebble Beach Golf Links officially opened its fairways. Less than a week later, Morse, with the help of San Francisco bank president Herbert Fleishhacker, formed Del Monte Properties and bought the Hotel Del Monte, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, two golf courses and other holdings at a final price of $1.


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36 million.

Over 18,000 acres of land, which had at one time been owned by Pacific Improvement Co., were now in the hands of Morse. His vision only expanded.

Early Years/War Years (1920-1945)

By the late 1920's, Pebble Beach Golf Links was beginning to blossom thanks in part to course enhancements that included lengthening the world-famous 18th hole to a par-5.

Morse's goal was to bring a national championship to the new course.

Bing Crosby (right) and Peter Hay as the 1948 Crosby gets underway.
Bing Crosby (right) and Peter Hay as the 1948 Crosby gets underway. (Pebble Beach Company Lagorio Archives/Julian P. Graham photo)
In 1929,Morse got his wish, as the United States Golf Association designated Pebble Beach as host of the U.S. Amateur Championship.

While thousands would attend the tournament, many would end up leaving early as the legendary Bobby Jones was upset in the opening round of match play by Johnny Goodman. Goodman, a caddie from Nebraska, had made the trip to Pebble via a railroad cattle car.

"When Jones lost, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea," said former Pebble Beach resident Charlie Seaver, who played in the championship. "Most of the fans left. It was a mass exodus."

Following two California State Open championships (1935, 1936), and a visit to the course by three-time British Women's Amateur champion Joyce Wethered (1935), the USGA returned to Pebble in 1940 for the U.

Bing Crosby golfing in Pebble Beach, circa 1966.
Bing Crosby golfing in Pebble Beach, circa 1966. (Herald Archive)
S. Women's Amateur, which was won bydefending champion Betty Jameson.

But like the rest of America, Pebble Beach would feel the affects of World War II. The 1942 U.S. Amateur was cancelled.

At the height of the war, U.S. Army soldiers from nearby Fort Ord had constructed a machine gun nest at the nearby cliffs overlooking Carmel Bay. Another nest was located even closer to Pebble Beach.

With the majority of local men being shipped off for duty, and areas nearby becoming mini-fortresses, play at Pebble Beach dwindled.

Following the war, however, there'd be another boom.

The Crosby Arrives (1947-1970)

Following World War II, Pebble Beach got back on track.

Arnold Palmer at the 1967 Crosby Pro-Am.
Arnold Palmer at the 1967 Crosby Pro-Am. (Herald Archive)
The first great news of1947 came when crooner Bing Crosby announced that he was moving his Clambake golf event after six years at Rancho Santa Fe to the Monterey Peninsula. Crosby had been persuaded to move his event to the area by Monterey Herald sports editor Ted Durein and Monterey Hotel and Restaurant Association president Jack Daugherty.

The same year, Pebble Beach was awarded both the 1947 U.S. Amateur, won by Skee Riegel, and the 1948 U.S. Women's Amateur, won by Grace Lenczyk.

Seizing the excitement, Daugherty dubbed the Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach the "Golf Capital of the World."

As for Crosby's glee in having his tournament at Pebble Beach, he summed it up later by saying, "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.

Seventh hole action on the final round of the 1966 Crosby Pro-Am.
Seventh hole action on the final round of the 1966 Crosby Pro-Am. (Herald Archive)
"

In 1958, the Crosby and the beauty of Pebble Beach were brought to the masses, as the tournament was broadcast for the first time on television, with Crosby himself acting as host.

Again in the spotlight, the USGA also returned, with Pebble Beach hosting the1961 U.S. Amateur. Held in September just a few weeks after the Walker Cup, the Amateur attracted a top-notch field. It would also be won by an up-and-coming star - Jack Nicklaus.

At Pebble Beach for the first time in his career, Nicklaus made himself comfortable, waltzing his way to an 8 and 6 victory in the finals.

Despite Morse's death in 1969, which signaled the end of an era, Pebble Beach was again in its glory. A new era was poised to emerge.

The U.S. Open Arrives (1970 -1980)

As strange as it sounds now, when the USGA, which runs the U.S. Open, was first approached with the idea of having the tournament at Pebble Beach, officials shook their heads. One of their chief complaints, of all things, was location. Officials felt that Pebble Beach was too far from a major city to attract the sponsors and spectators needed to fund such an event. Eventually, the USGA was persuaded by a$250,000 guarantee from Del Monte Properties president Aimee G. "Tim" Michaud.

When the U.S. Open did finally arrive for the first time in 1972, an old friend was waiting. Nicklaus, who had won the Amateur at Pebble in 1961, won the U.S. Open with a score of 2-over par 290 that included a clinching birdie on No.17, where he hit a 1-iron to within inches of the pin.

In 1977, the same year that Del Monte Properties Co. was reincorporated as Pebble Beach Corporation, another major championship arrived, the PGA Championship. The tournament was won by Lanny Wadkins on the third hole of what was the first sudden death playoff in a major.

A year later, the name game continued. Buoyed by the success of the film Star Wars, in 1978 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation purchased Pebble Beach Corporation and reorganized it as Pebble Beach Company.

The U.S. Open, meanwhile, was now on a schedule. In 1982, ten years after its inaugural showing, the U.S. Open and its accompanying drama returned. This time around it was Tom Watson's turn for heroics on the 17th, as he sank a chip shot from just off the green to defeat Nicklaus by two for the title. Any doubts about Pebble Beach's ability to host a U.S. Open had been erased.

Modern Era (1990-Present)

While the name stayed the same, Pebble Beach again changed hands in 1990 when Ben Hogan Properties, under the ownership of Japanese businessman Minoru Isutani, purchased Pebble Beach Company. Two years later, Taiheiyo Golf Club of Japan purchased Pebble Beach Company. All the while, the golf course kept shining.

The U.S. Open returned again in 1992, with Tom Kite surviving brutal winds to win his first major championship with a score of 3-under 285. Among Kite's dramatics, other than simply surviving the gales, was a pitch-in for birdie on the seventh hole. "I don't know if those were the toughest conditions I'd ever played in, but they were definitely the most difficult given the circumstances," Kite later said.

In 1998, the course underwent its first major change, as a new fifth hole, designed by Jack Nicklaus, was constructed along the coast.

One year later, a group of American investors, led by Peter Ueberroth, Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood, purchased Pebble Beach Co. for $820 million. In 1999 the U.S. Amateur returned again, with 20-year-old David Gossett becoming the youngest Amateur winner ever after defeating Sung Yoon Kim 9 and 8 in the finals.

Only a year after Gossett's victory, the USGA returned to Pebble for the historic 100th U.S. Open. There, Tiger Woods rewrote golf history, winning by a record 15 shots and tying the lowest 72-hole score in championship history.

A year later in 2001, the accolades continued, as Golf Digest named Pebble Beach the No.1 Golf Course in America, marking the first time ever that a public golf course had held the top spot.

The 2010 U.S. Open will be another milestone, as it will mark the fifth time the championship has been held at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the most at any course since 1970.


Learn more about the Monterey Bay area at MontereyBayAdventures.com.