Is Pebble Beach the best US Open venue


Next week, Pebble Beach will again host the United States Open. It's perhaps the most recognizable course in the U.S., but is it the best U.S. Open venue? Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard weigh in with their opinions.


Pebble Beach is the best U.S. Open venue almost by virtue of its beauty alone.

No home to the U.S. Open can match the grandeur of what Jack Neville and Douglas Grant designed along Carmel Bay. While they may get credit as the original architects, God’s own hand landed more spectacularly here than any other U.S. Open venue.

Of course, the championship test matters above all else. The shots a champion are required to play to separate himself from the field is what takes Pebble Beach over the top. You take the breathtaking views that frame the holes at Pebble Beach. Throw in the shot-making tests to those little greens. Add nature’s capricious moods, with its winds blowing both fitfully and fatefully off the Pacific Ocean, and Pebble Beach towers above any other U.S. Open venue as a complete U.S. Open experience.

 If you’re not convinced, look at the list of champions who’ve won there: Jack Nicklaus (1972), Tom Watson (1982), Tom Kite (1992) and Tiger Woods (2000). I dare you to find four better winners on a U.S. Open venue. Oakmont’s the only other venue that comes close with Hogan and Nicklaus among those on the honor roll there.


Going to get beat up on this one, and I suspect everyone from Tom Watson to Clint Eastwood will suggest I undergo a brain scan, but Pebble Beach Golf Links, the hallowed meeting of sea, land and air and site of next week’s U.S. Open, is not the best Open venue.

Before we’re accused of an “East Coast” bias, our vote was split between Torrey Pines, site of the dramatic 2008 championship, and Merion’s East Course, with the nod going to the Pennsylvania gem on the depth of historical relevance alone.

Merion, like Pebble, has hosted four national championships, with No. 5 due up in 2013, but it is quality, not quantity, that lifts it above the 50 other Open venues.

Merion was where Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam, winning the 1930 U.S. Amateur, but more importantly it was the site of the game’s most-inspiring victory. Just 16 months after a head-on collision with a bus and blood-clot surgery saved his life, Ben Hogan roped his famous 1-iron to the club’s final green to force a playoff and win the 1950 U.S. Open despite debilitating pain in his legs.

Sweeping vistas of Carmel Bay are nice, but they can’t beat history.