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Editor's Notebook
June 4, 2020

8/6/2012 2:11:00 PM
Golf trip of a lifetime
NV group enjoys spectacular Pebble Beach, other courses to the hilt
Max Eaton prepares to hit a shot at the Links of Spanish Bay as Fred Robinson and Rick Smith watch.
Max Eaton prepares to hit a shot at the Links of Spanish Bay as Fred Robinson and Rick Smith watch.
Gathering next to the No. 18 green on the Pebble Beach Golf Links are John Bright, from left, Fred Robinson, Max Eaton, Rick Smith, Joe Wahlman, Bryce Mayer, Bob Pettinger and Tom Barley. In the background is the Pacific Ocean and part of the Monterey Peninsula.—Photo by Donna Eaton
Gathering next to the No. 18 green on the Pebble Beach Golf Links are John Bright, from left, Fred Robinson, Max Eaton, Rick Smith, Joe Wahlman, Bryce Mayer, Bob Pettinger and Tom Barley. In the background is the Pacific Ocean and part of the Monterey Peninsula.—Photo by Donna Eaton
Toward the end of my round at the fabulous Peb­ble Beach Golf Links, my caddie was telling me about his work and living at California's Monterey Peninsula.

"I haven't traveled all that much or been around the world," he said. "But I have to believe this has to be one of the best places on earth to be."

Amen. Especially if you're a golfer.

It doesn't get any better or more beautiful, spectacular and enchanting than Pebble Beach. Spy­glass Hill is darn close. And so is the Links at Spanish Bay.

I spent three days at this legendary and absolutely gorgeous place on the Pacific Ocean 11/2 weeks ago with a group of seven other buddies from North Vernon. Tom Barley, John Bright, Max Eaton, Bob Pettinger, Fred Robin­son, Rick Smith, Joe Wahlman and I enjoyed a grand time.

Four of the eight golf courses at the Pebble Beach Resorts are public, including the most famous of all: Pebble Beach Golf Links. You have to stay there to play there, though, in order to get guaranteed tee times.

Over a year ago, we booked four rooms a two occupants each for two nights at the Inn at Span­ish Bay, which is at the Links at Spanish Bay. The day before our check-in, Tom Barley, the point man in our group, received a phone call while we were playing at Bay­onet Golf Course in Mon­terey. Seems the Inn at Spanish Bay was full and they had to move us. Would a free upgrade to a large lodge with five suites located next to the No. 1 fairway and first tee at the Pebble Beach Golf Links be OK? Tom couldn't say yes quickly enough.

Wow. For two nights, we were in the spacious adobe called Fairway One with all the amenities: high-definition flat screen televisions, fireplaces, jac­uzzis, 51/2 baths and more. Windows looked out onto the first hole and a backyard patio afforded a great vantage point as we watched golfers start their round. It was a ridiculously short walk to the first tee, pro shop, practice putting green, restaurants and the Tap Room. We all felt like little kids at Disney World.

After checking in, our first day's round was at the Links at Spanish Bay. The layout featured fantastic scenery, especially the holes that border the ocean, and plenty of challenges. Temperatures hovered around 60 and with the breeze from the ocean, I soon put on a sleeveless wind vest over my golf shirt. I was plenty comfortable in that and shorts.

We returned to our base at Fairway One, discovering that the staff had turned down our beds and had delivered fresh bottled water and chocolate. We decided to order pizza in instead of going out to eat. There was no reason to go anyplace else.

Just outside our place, a man dressed in Scottish kilts was playing the bagpipes. There was a memorial service going on next door for a longtime caddy who had recently passed away.

The next day we had tee times at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Four of us chose to get caddies and walk the course, which only enhanced the experience.

As pretty as Spanish Bay was, Pebble was even more so. It was hard to concentrate on golf at times because of the mind-blowing, jaw-dropping beauty. The rocky beaches and ocean along the holes, the cliffs and hills, the meticulously maintained greens, tees, fairways and sand bunkers delighted the eye.

My brother-in-law, Joe, got more than he bargained for when he climbed down a rocky cliff to the beach to retrieve his ball after an errant shot. He wrenched his back a bit when he climbed back up, but he survived to finish the round.

Along one of the fairways on the back nine, we saw a couple of houses that have their own practice greens in back adjoining the golf course. One also had a sand bunker. Our caddies told us one of the houses used to belong to Bing Crosby himself. The other belongs to one of the owners of the NBA Golden State Warriors. Both are multimillion dollar residences.

I deliberately didn't take my camera on the Pebble layout because I wanted to concentrate, ala Tiger, on my golf game. My goal is to get in the 80s.

I didn't quite make it, shooting a 46-48-94, 22 over par. I wasn't upset even though I had tears in my eyes as I sunk my last putt for a bogey on No. 18. Those weren't tears of sadness or anger, they were tears of joy. It was an incredible experience.

We celebrated at the Tap Room, a pub adjacent to the practice putting green, before walking back to our home-away-from-home for a final night.

Only four of us ventured out the next day to Spyglass Hill, another awesome golf course. The first five holes are next to the ocean. We could see whales spraying water from their blowholes in the distance and hear seals barking. A group of people riding horses rode nearby as we played one hole. The final 13 holes go up into the Del Monte Forest, offering more exquisite beauty.

Spyglass is one of the courses that is used for the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The Pebble Beach Golf Links itself has hosted the U.S. Open five times.

Nothing on this trip was cheap, especially the golf. Greens fees are several times higher than what I'm used to paying. We all went with the idea that this would be a once in a lifetime trip, one of the bucket list items we can check off, though I know every one of us would dearly love to return someday.

Boy, would we ever.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Article comment by: Rob Barlow

Certainly enjoyed your column and I know I would have enjoyed the golf.

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