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A drive that rivals Magnolia Lane

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Golf pros rave about the drive down Magnolia Lane at Augusta National before the start of the Masters, but the drive through the gates to Pebble Beach before the start of the U.S. Open rivals that and you don’t have to be a player to enjoy it.

Entering the gates here take you to more than Pebble Beach Golf Links. There’s also Cypress Point, Spyglass, The Links at Spanish Bay, Del Monte and Poppy Hills.

The drive through Del Monte Forest on 17 Mile Drive features The Lone Cypress, Point Joe, Fanshell Beach and Restless Sea with chances to see sea otters, sea lions and harbor seals.

“I lived in Hawaii for a long time, and every time I drive down Highway 1 and see the Pebble Beach sign, I get goose bumps,” says Paul Spengler, executive vice president of Pebble Beach Company.

Spengler makes the drive from his home in Carmel to Pebble Beach every day. A special shield for his car gets him through Pebble Beach’s five gates. As a boy, Spengler grew up in Marin, but his family would take summer vacations to Pebble Beach.

“All the residents have these shields to get through the gates,” Spengler said. “If you don’t have one, you have to pay the park fees to get in.”

As a boy, Spengler viewed those shields as practically a pass to heaven on earth.

“As a boy, I dreamed of having one of those shields someday,” Spengler said.

When he went to work for the Pebble Beach Company, his dream came true.

“It’s such a special place, such a special community of people,” he said.