Think of Pebble Beach Resorts and thoughts of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links come to mind. And why not? The well-rounded combination of the best known (if somewhat average) holes in golf should not be missed by any avid golfer. But unlike Pebble Beach, the 18 diverse holes at Spyglass Hill offer a bit of the unexpected. Readers who have played both will know what I mean.
Spyglass Hill takes its name from Treasure Island, the classic children’s story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Each hole is named after a character, event or place in the novel. Such names as “Billy Bones” or “Skeleton Island” give you an indication of what is in store for you.
One great feature of Spyglass is the mixture of environs. Its front five holes are on the ocean side, but things change dramatically when the course takes a turn into the woods. What a pleasant surprise. Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed Spyglass Hill as part of a larger commission from S.F.B. Morse, founder of the Pebble Beach Co., to create a string of courses along the shorelines of the Del Monte Forrest. Today, environmentalists would oppose a plan like this, but it has resulted in the preservation of open space and some of the best golf in the world. The course, which took six years to plan and build, opened March 11, 1966, and now stretches from Cypress Point to Pebble Beach.
Charming as it is, Spyglass – with championship tee boxes rated at 75.3 and a slope of 148 – is rated one of the toughest courses in the world. The PGA Tour lists holes 6, 8 and 16 as some of the most difficult on the tour.
There are lots of places to stay in Pebble Beach, but one of the best has to be The Inn At Spanish Bay. The inn has topped so many “Best Places to Stay” lists that it’s impossible to name them all. This is a place where bagpipers serenade and open fires warm you as you enjoy an evening cocktail. Pebble Beach does not come cheap. Plan to drop $1,000 a day on golf and accommodations. Add breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner and the tally rises to $1,500. But open your wallet and pay up – it’s worth every penny!
(595 yards, par 5)
“Be a nice dog,” you’ll say when you tee up for this massive par-5 starting hole. What was Trent Jones Sr. thinking when he decided to start Spyglass on a par-5 dogleg left? It may have been the views – Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains framed by the Del Monte Forest – that inspired this design. It’s a downhill left, finishing on a large green where the topography mimics that of the bay beyond.
(183 yards, par 3)
Looks simple off the tee, huh? But those ice plants are killers! I slammed my iron shot, hit the back of the green and bounced into them. No big deal, right? I approached the ball and found that it was sitting up as if on the tee. “Look at this,” I said. “I can pick this clean.” My golf mates snickered. I chipped the ball only to see it fall deeper into the plants. Then I understood. Once you’re snagged by ice plants, it’s nearly impossible to get out and back onto the green. The hole is surrounded by bunkers, so accuracy is key.
(416 yards, par 4)
Here’s where you say goodbye to the ice plants and move from the beachfront into the Del Monte Forest. Turn around as you approach the green and enjoy the view. Watch the fairway bunker on the left and the bunker protecting the green on the left and right.
(399 yards, par 4)
The yardage book calls this “the longest hole under 400 yards in the world.” Why? It’s an uphill son-of-a-gun! After your tee shot, with no roll uphill, your second shot is even more elevated. You climb to an elevated green protected by the hole’s single bunker on the right. This is the No. 1 handicapped hole on the course. Be happy with a 5 and return to your cart.
(178 yards, par 3)
Gotta love the name. This par 3 is the beginning of an adventure as water comes into play on three of the next four holes. Gambling types should suppress the urge to sneak by on the left — balls tend to roll off into the pond.
Long John Silver
(560 yards, par 5)
This one is a favorite — double doglegs! This is a tee shot to the right and then to the left. Stay away from the fairway bunker on the right and the pond on the right side of the green. A shallow but wide green awaits, causing some shots to pass the green, which makes for a difficult return chip.
(462 yards, par 4)
Man’s best friend my foot, this hole is a killer. Big dogs off the tee box might blow their shot through the left side into the woods. There is also a tree that blocks the right side, but it’s not visible from the tee box. Drivers past the right tree will be rewarded with a gamble shot to the green.
(325 yards, par 4)
Blind as a bat — that is your tee shot to the landing area. It’s followed by a second blind shot to the green. Meanwhile you’ll contend with bunkers galore to arrive at a sloping green. If you land your shot past the cup, the “glass greens” at Spyglass will be the talk over single malt at the Inn at Spanish Bay that evening.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Stevenson Drive at Spyglass Hill Road
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
tel 800 654 9300
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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