Course Review Pebble Beach Golf Links

By Phil SokolFebruary 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
HISTORY: Pebble Beach founder Samuel F.B. Morse had a vision to create a one- of-a-kind course with unsurpassed scenic beauty and an element of difficulty that would always be challenged but never conquered. To do so, Morse hired two amateurs who had never before designed a golf course, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. It was Morse's intention to create a seaside course to salvage a failing real estate development. For roughly $100,000 in construction costs, the amateur duo routed the famed seaside links, which features nine holes along the water.
Pebble Beach has been host to some amazing events, including four U.S. Opens and four U.S. Amateurs, and since 1947 has been the main venue for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, formerly called the Crosby Pro-Am (Named after legendary entertainer Bing Crosby). When people talk about the U.S. Opens at Pebble, 1972 comes to mind and Jack Nicklaus' one-iron on the 17th hole that rattled the pin as he defeated Bruce Crampton by three shots. Or, how about the 1982 Open, when Tom Watson denied Nicklaus a fifth Open title when he chipped in on 17 from a somewhat impossible lie after telling his caddie 'I'm going to sink it.' Let's not forget the record performance from Tiger Woods in 2000 when he demolished the field by 15 shots as he equaled the lowest score ever at the 100th edition of the U.S. Open Championship.
REVIEW: Beautiful and breathtaking scenery comes into play when battling Pebble Beach, especially holes seven through 10 and 17 and 18, as they skirt the Pacific. However, Pebble has some holes sprinkled throughout the layout that are 'nice' holes, not great. The first hole is a dogleg right par-4, just 381 yards leading up to a tightly-bunkered green. The second is a straightaway five-par (played as a par-4 for the 2000 Open) that leaves you thinking, what's so special about this course?
The third hole is also a short four, featuring a sliver of a fairway as it bends almost 90-degrees to the left to a small green surrounded by three bunkers and your first glimpse of the ocean. Another somewhat average hole is the fourth at 331 yards. A carry of just 196 yards is needed from the tips, as the ocean skirting the entire right side is played as a lateral hazard. The fifth hole opened in 1999 for play after Nicklaus designed the hole to flank the bluffs of Stillwater Cove. Originally, the fifth played uphill and inland, but Nicklaus did himself proud with his re-routing of this gem. The sixth is an exacting par-5 with the Cove all along the right. After your tee shot down into the valley of the fairway, your second shot must travel up over a steep slope and must be accurately placed to the right of the bunkers, thus leaving yourself with a short approach to this small green that runs from back to front.
The par-3 seventh is where the wind really comes into play. On a calm day, sand wedge is the norm. However, when conditions are blustery, a knock down five-iron could be the call. This hole is one of the most photographed holes in golf. As you move to the eighth, don't forget to check out where the aiming rock is, otherwise you will end up in the ocean. After your drive reaches the top of the plateau, hold your breath, as the view and the shot you need to produce are awe inspiring. The final hole on the front side features an ocean view all along the right side of the fairway. Your drive needs to be long and left, as the fairway slopes towards the water. A deep bunkered gully fronts this windswept green.
Another waterside hole, the 10th at 446 yards, is no pushover, as this fairway also slopes to the right, as does the green, so a properly placed approach is a must. The course returns to average with the uphill, par-4 11th. The oblong green slopes from back to front and tends to be very quick. The 12th is an exacting par-3 with club selection a must to a wide, but shallow green. The uphill, par-4 13th plays longer than the 399 yardage would indicate. A wide fairway target helps off the tee, but don't stray, as a long bunker left and three bunkers right will snare plenty of errant shots.
The par-5 14th is virtually a three-shotter for most mortals (Tiger and Daly excluded). The dogleg right, 573-yard monster must be played with an accurate second shot or your approach will be next to impossible, as the green slopes from left to right and sits behind a menacing bunker. A medium or short iron will set up a birdie possibility on the par-4 15th. Just remember, all putts will move towards the ocean. A ho-hum 3-wood or long iron off the 16th tee will set up medium or short iron approach to a green guarded by bunkers and trees. Putting on this green is the most challenging part of the hole. Back to the ocean for the 17th, as the wind condition will dictate your course of action. A par on this devilish par-3 with an hourglass green will make your day. Chip-in like Watson and who knows, you might be buying drinks at the bar, usually reserved for people making an ace.
The 18th hole is a perfect way to end your round. Hopefully, you'll have to wait on the tee, so you'll be able to absorb the surroundings and what transpired during your round. Sitting on the fence, remembering your birdies, bogeys, Nicklaus pondering his future, this is what golf is all about. With water looming all along the left side, the tee shot must be placed left of the fairway trees some 265 from the box. Your second shot would be ideally located on the left side of the fairway, leaving a nine- iron or less to a green that features putts that tend to fall ocean side. Parring 18 makes everything else seem sublime.
OVERALL: As good as Pine Valley, no way, but a somewhat close runner-up. Course conditioning is always a factor and it affects this course in particular due to the amount of rounds played each year. When playing a seaside venue, you'd love to include rugged elements in the mix. However, a benign sunny day takes the cake. Don't let the price tag ($350 per round) bother you. Pebble Beach is a must!
Phil Sokol writes for the Sports Network, and periodically contributes to Send your thoughts on this article to Phil Sokol at
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.