The PGA Tour’s annual AT&T National Pro-Am returns to the Monterey Peninsula this week with some of the world’s best players tackling Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The final round is conducted at Pebble Beach.
For many, it will be a rare opportunity to scout Pebble Beach, host site of the 119th U.S. Open Championship June 13-16. Due to this year’s double, PGA European Tour stalwarts Tommy Fleetwood and 2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick are teeing it up in the Pro-Am for the first time. Fleetwood was the runner-up in last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
While Pebble Beach will play firmer and faster in June, the players still can get a feel for the layout. Fairways have already been trimmed in preparation for the U.S. Open, and Pebble Beach is still Pebble Beach, no matter the competition or the date.
Here are three things to know about this iconic layout, which has hosted five previous U.S. Opens:
Champions Among Us
Some of the game’s greatest players have managed to win at Pebble Beach. Jack Nicklaus won two USGA championships there: the 1961 U.S. Amateur and the 1972 U.S. Open. Tom Watson won the 1982 U.S. Open and Tiger Woods produced a historic 15-stroke victory in the 2000 U.S. Open. In 1977, World Golf Hall of Fame member Lanny Wadkins won the only PGA Championship conducted at Pebble Beach.
When the AT&T National Pro-Am – then known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur or Crosby Clambake – moved from San Diego, Calif., to the Monterey Peninsula in 1947, one of the earliest winners was Ben Hogan (1949). Other notable winners include Billy Casper, Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Watson, Phil Mickelson, Tom Kite (also won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble), Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
One player who failed to win at Pebble was Bob Jones, who was shockingly ousted in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur by then-unheralded Johnny Goodman. Jones came in to the championship as the two-time defending champion.
Many layouts have green complexes that are as spacious as parking lots. At St. Andrews, where the Old Course features seven double greens, the average size of the greens is 13,600 square feet. Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, site of nine U.S. Opens, has greens that average 7,000 square feet.
Pebble Beach’s greens, however, are half that size. The average size of a green at Pebble is 3,500 square feet, making them among the smallest in major-championship golf. That puts a premium on ball-striking and accuracy.
Before a golf course was constructed on this priceless property, developer Samuel F.B. Morse, known as the Duke of Del Monte, saved the land that Pebble Beach currently occupies from becoming a housing development. He spent $1.34 million on 11,000 acres of land that included the current location of The Lodge at Pebble Beach (then known as the Hotel Del Monte) and what eventually turned out to be one of the world’s most iconic golf courses.
Morse developed a community around the lodge, but also wanted to ensure that wildlife, the coastline and forest were preserved and protected. That kind of environmental foresight can be witnessed today within the Del Monte Forest and 17-Mile Drive.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.