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Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I just returned from a trip to Pebble Beach, and here’s my quick travelogue. This was the first time I’ve played any of the courses there, so we stayed at the Lodge at Pebble. Our room overlooked the first tee, and was very large with a fireplace, nice sitting area, very large bath – all done very nicely. The resort has a bit of an old look from the outside (architecturally, not condition), but inside is pretty much understated elegance everywhere you look.

Day 1: Spanish Bay
Played Spanish Bay for free as part of our Lodge package (see below about it being empty). Since Spanish Bay doesn’t have a driving range, I warmed up at Pebble’s range and then took the shuttle to Spanish Bay. Weather was cloudy at the start with wisps of fog through the trees, clearing to mostly sunny around the 12th hole. Took a cart, with a 90 degree cart rule. The course was almost empty – the only other players we saw were a twosome a few holes behind us, and playing leisurely it took 4 hours for the round. Talking with the starter, it sounded like demand was way off for Spanish Bay. The course was in good condition, and the greens were pretty fast and rolled very true.

Overall, Spanish Bay was nice but just didn't feel that special and I don't know if I'd play it again. It seems kind of tricked up in places it doesn’t need to be, and just didn’t really feel like it had a good flow and didn’t feel very memorable. While I remember most of the holes at Spyglass and every one at Pebble, it seems like I can barely remember any at Spanish Bay – they just didn’t stand out. I struck the ball well on the front nine, but somewhat lost my swing on the back and ended up shooting a 90 from the gold tees.

Day 2: Spyglass Hill
A little chilly at the start but a gorgeous sunny day with a variable light breeze. Beautiful course that was in great condition, with a lot of deer wandering the course. Like Spanish Bay, the course was pretty uncrowded and our round took about 4 ½ hours. We played as a 3-some and took carts, but it is cart path only at Spyglass so the fairways were pristine, better than most courses’ greens. The greens were in great shape, although a bit slower than Spanish Bay. The first 5 holes play down towards the water and along the dunes, all requiring good shot placement. Hole #4 was a blast, requiring a well placed tee shot to avoid a blind shot to the narrowest green I’ve ever seen (I got lucky and nailed the tee shot, stuck a wedge, and made birdie). Starting on #6, the holes come up into the forest, giving a very different feel. Although a tough course, I felt it played very fair – it punished you for bad shots, but gave an opportunity to make it up if you’re feeling heroic. On #11 I had my personal gallery of a doe and two fawns standing not more than 30 feet away while I hit my 4 iron approach shot to the green on the par 5 eleventh (I made the green, and could swear I heard them say "Nice shot!"). Every hole was memorable with the exception of #13 and #14; to me they felt a bit ordinary, with average homes lining one side of the fairway and not a lot of visual interest (although once you get to the green on 14 it is much more attractive).

My biggest impression of Spyglass is it is a very sensual course, not just visual but a course that appeals to all the senses. The sounds of a tee shot reverberating through the trees (the sound, not the shot!). The scents of the ocean mixed in with the forest. The feel of the terrain under foot, the smoothness of the fairway grass. I felt the course overall more than any other course I've played. Overall, I loved the course very much, and shot an 82 from the gold tees. I played it pretty well, so I can see how it could be brutal from the tips if the winds are up.

Day 3: Pebble Beach
A perfect weather day, with sunny skies, about 70 degrees, and very little wind. Took a caddie and walked, which I highly recommend. There is always a small crowd milling around the first tee, so it almost felt like a tour event – I was waiting for the announcer to say “On the first tee, from San Diego California,………”. Fortunately I nailed a perfect hybrid for the first shot so I was spared any first tee embarrassment. Pebble was overall in very good shape. The fairways were mostly plush, with occasional areas where they were a little brown and harder. I’ve heard the greens can be a bit bumpy due to all the play, but I didn’t find this to be the case. While not as perfect as Spyglass, they seemed really good and just slightly faster than Spyglass (although not as quick as Spanish Bay). The course was pretty busy, but we finished in about 4 3/4 hours.

I was surprised how forgiving Pebble was, and I got away with a lot of shots that would have cost me at Spyglass. The rough was not too high so offline tee shots were findable and sometimes still yielded a good shot to the green. I won’t go into any hole-by-hole details as probably most of you have seen Pebble enough in tourneys to know the course fairly well. What you don’t see on TV is that the course is a bit hillier than it shows, and the mounding around the greens and contours on the green are much more pronounced. Also, I felt the tee shot on 18 was much more intimidating to look at in person – the fairway seems a lot more narrow with the ocean beckoning on the left and OB staring at you on the right. I can’t imagine stepping up to that tee knowing you need birdie to win. The course plays very fair though, and I ended up beating all my hopes by shooting a 79 in spite of not making a single birdie (but I had a lot of good birdie putts that just wouldn't go in).

While Spyglass is probably a better course, Pebble is so unique and beautiful, and with each step one could feel the great players of the past and feel the crowds. I got lucky and hit a solid drive on 18 just past the big tree, and while walking down the fairway I was literally feeling the bumps on my arms – it was just the greatest feeling to be making that stroll.

Summary: A Perfect Vacation
I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful golf getaway. Following the 4 days at Pebble, we headed to Napa Valley for a few days of decadent eating and wine tasting, and while it was absolutely wonderful as well, the days on the Monterey peninsula were the more enjoyable and memorable parts of the trip. The weather was wonderful, service at the resort was superb, the golf courses were in great shape, and my game held together. Yes, Pebble is ridiculously expensive, and at $495 green fee (plus $75 caddie fee plus tip) it isn’t a course I’d play every day, but it was a course I could play every day and never be bored. Spyglass is probably the better course, but there was just something about all the history at Pebble that made it unique and special in ways that words can't describe. I can’t wait to go back there next summer for the Open.
post #2 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Thanks for sharing!
post #3 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Great description. I hope to be there one day.
post #4 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

I just got back from playing Spanish Bay a few weekends ago, and I would have to disagree with you. I had an absolute blast at Spanish. The course was very challenging, but all the holes were wonderful. The other three guys I played with, have played Pebble, Spy x 2 and now Spanish within a month. They all said they would much rather play Spnish Bay over Spy any day. You get more ocean holes, and they said the play was just better. Especially if you like the links style courses.

Shot an 84 from the black tees.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by GolfinGQ View Post
I just got back from playing Spanish Bay a few weekends ago, and I would have to disagree with you. I had an absolute blast at Spanish.
I'm glad you had a good time. It wasn't that I hated Spanish Bay or anything, it just didn't seem that special to me. Talking to a number of coworkers and friends who have played the courses on the Peninsula, it seems some love it, some don't care for it at all. I just preferred Spyglass and Pebble a lot more.
post #6 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Thank you for that truly excellent and inspiring write-up. And well played, you obviously weren't in any way intimidated, just a little awed at times perhaps.

My wife keeps bugging me to play Pebble and Spyglass but I'm resisting, mainly because I feel that I haven't "earned" my tee time yet. I just read her your whole post out loud and now she's pressing me again to go up there and play. Well, maybe when I've signed a card with less than 80 on it .....

In the meantime maybe I'll see you at Torrey sport. Thanks again for taking the time with your piece.

Regards,
Charles.
post #7 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by Chas View Post
My wife keeps bugging me to play Pebble and Spyglass but I'm resisting, mainly because I feel that I haven't "earned" my tee time yet. I just read her your whole post out loud and now she's pressing me again to go up there and play.
Your wife listened to you read aloud that entire golf story? You got a keeper.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by Chas View Post
Thank you for that truly excellent and inspiring write-up. And well played, you obviously weren't in any way intimidated, just a little awed at times perhaps.

My wife keeps bugging me to play Pebble and Spyglass but I'm resisting, mainly because I feel that I haven't "earned" my tee time yet. I just read her your whole post out loud and now she's pressing me again to go up there and play. Well, maybe when I've signed a card with less than 80 on it .....

In the meantime maybe I'll see you at Torrey sport. Thanks again for taking the time with your piece.

Regards,
Charles.
Thanks for the kind words. Maybe there is something about those of us who play and love Torrey, but I was in the same situation - my wife has been bugging me to go play Pebble area courses, and I've resisted for a couple years because I didn't want to just go and hack it around, or get torn up by the course. Now I can't wait to go back!
post #9 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Interesting, maybe you're right about Torrey types. And the wonderful thing is, if you live in SD Torrey is very reasonable (but then again you have to pay our taxes .....).

My wife says I should just ignore the score and cost and play Pebble for the sake of playing amongst the greats as it were. There's a lot to be said for that of course. Still, I'd hate to shoot 150, although the cost-per-stroke would be less .......
[do I sound Scottish? I blame the economy for that.]

Songwriter: you're right about that. Actually she watches pro golf on TV with almost equal interest. I suppose I have encouraged her interest in golf these past few years but she's got a very sharp eye for detail and for what's really going on, esp. considering she doesn't play. But then again she knows far more about baseball and football than I do as a culturally ex-pat Brit.
post #10 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Good write-up Clambake. I played the same 3 courses in May and had similar impressions.

Pebble has awesome views, fair layout, very good condition, and all of that tradition. It's my favorite course out of all the ones that I've ever played. Tough as nails when they let the rough grow, speed up the greens, and when the wind is blowing.

Spyglass is a fun blend of dunes and then forest, with fairways that are immaculate. Known as being the toughest course on the peninsula. The first 5 holes are a blast, especially the 4th.

Spanish Bay... I personally love it because I rarely get to play links style golf. I remember several holes... the par 3 8th over the lagoon near the beach, the tough par 4 12th hole with a huge ravine in front of the green, the par 5 14th that rolls down to the ocean. The condition of the fairways on Spanish Bay was the best I have ever seen.

I'm a socal golfer too, PM me if you ever want to go up to Pebble.
post #11 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Great write up! Having played all three courses several times, most rounds being at Spyglass, I pretty much share your opinions on all of them.

I especially like how you described Spyglass as being "sensual". Right on point!!! One thing you didn't mention that I think adds a lot to that experience are the shadows. They give me chills everytime I play it. The way they look crossing the contours of the fairways on a nice sunny day is breathtaking to me. There's no other place like it.

post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Cesar, thanks for the comments and thanks for posting the picture (#9 if I recall right). You're right about the shadows, and I feel sorry for those who play it on a cloudy day. BTW, your photo could have been taken the day I played - it looked exactly like that with a cloudless blue sky, bright green grass. #@#$, now I'm going to be daydreaming the rest of the day at work!
post #13 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by Clambake View Post
Cesar, thanks for the comments and thanks for posting the picture (#9 if I recall right). You're right about the shadows, and I feel sorry for those who play it on a cloudy day. BTW, your photo could have been taken the day I played - it looked exactly like that with a cloudless blue sky, bright green grass. #@#$, now I'm going to be daydreaming the rest of the day at work!
Good, now you're day dreaming the same way your post had me daydreaming.

I'll never forget the last time I played Pebble. My wife and I stayed at The Lodge for our anniversary, probably in one of the rooms next to yours (door facing #1 tee, upstairs)

Walked right out of the room onto the putting green.

Teed off at 7am, not a drop of wind with the marine layer hanging overhead. First 7 holes were pretty calm and overcast. Started off -1 through 6 and almost aced #7 spinning it back it to 4 feet (missed the putt though )

Once we got to 8, the fog started to break up, the sun started shine and the wind strted kicking up. Ended up being a pretty stiff 20 MPH. Wow, what a different course it turned into.

Ended up shooting 77 with TWO snowmans on the back 9 par 5's (14 &18) Played -1 for 16 holes and +6 on those two.

To this day though, that was the favorite golf outting of my life. My only regret is that I didn't get the caddie like you did. Oh well, just another excuse to try it again.
post #14 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Spyglass is indeed a special course. What is that stuff, egg plant? Then there is Monterey Peninsula as well, and I really liked both the Dunes and Shore courses.
post #15 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Besides Pebble, Spyglass and Spanish Bay, what are some other good choices in the Carmel area? I have a full week there and would like to get some more rounds in at lower green fees.

Also, any suggestions for courses in or around SFO?
post #16 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

First, join the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA) if you're not already a member. You can become an "Associate" member for $25 if you belong to a participating club in your home state. This will give you great discounts at courses in the area. For more info, see http://www.ncga.org/about-ncga/member-benefits/

Poppy Hills is the NCGA home course, so you'll get a nice discount there. Pasatiempo, Spyglass, Spanish Bay, and Half Moon Bay Golf Links all had great discounts when I was there in August (call them for current availability).

Even with the discounts, these courses aren't cheap. If you're on a budget, try the Pacific Grove Golf Links - a nice little Muni with some great ocean views.
post #17 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by txgolfer03 View Post
Besides Pebble, Spyglass and Spanish Bay, what are some other good choices in the Carmel area? I have a full week there and would like to get some more rounds in at lower green fees.

Also, any suggestions for courses in or around SFO?
Around Pebble:

Laguna Seca, Rancho Canada, Pacific Grove Muni.


Around SFO (the airport):

Poplar Creek, Crystal Springs.
post #18 of 33

Re: Pebble, Spyglass, Spanish Bay: My Trip

Originally Posted by txgolfer03 View Post
Besides Pebble, Spyglass and Spanish Bay, what are some other good choices in the Carmel area? I have a full week there and would like to get some more rounds in at lower green fees.

Also, any suggestions for courses in or around SFO?

I know many on here might disagree or even think I'm strange for suggesting it since it seems like a waste given all the courses in the area, but where I was out at Pebble Beach for a wedding last November, I got with a bunch of people there for the wedding and played the Peter Hay Par 3 course (across the street from the Pebble Beach clubhouse) all day and had an absolute blast. It's weird playing a par 3 course that is in "similar" condition to the other perfectly manicured courses in the area. I did get to play Spyglass while I was thee though so it's not like all I did was the par 3 course.
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