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Nothing poor about Pacific Grove

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If you don't already know about Pacific Grove Golf Links, you should, especially if you appreciate golf along the Pacific Ocean for less than $100.

This week, thousands of golf fans will flock to the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links for the annual clambake known as the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. And though none of us has a spot in that one, you can play what many refer to as 'Poor Man's Pebble Beach,' Pacific Grove.

It's called that because the back nine backs up against the Pacific Ocean and its course designers have strong Pebble Beach connections. But I'm not really fond of the moniker, because Pacific Grove isn't anything close to Pebble Beach, but it's pretty special, especially considering it has a walking rate of $40 during the week.

Pacific Grove – or “PG” as it’s known to locals – was co-designed by H. Chandler Egan, former captain of the Harvard golf team, and Jack Neville. Egan partnered with Alister MacKenzie to renovate Pebble Beach prior to the 1929 U.S. Amateur, and in 1932, he designed the first nine at Pacific Grove.

But the magic didn't occur until 1960 when Neville, who collaborated with Douglas Grant on Pebble Beach, got to add another nine to Pacific Grove, the nine that backs up into the sea.

The front nine at Pacific Grove isn't anything special, but it does serve as a warm-up to the really cool back nine. But this is where I don't like the Pebble Beach comparison: Nowhere does it look like Pebble Beach on the back nine. Sure, the ocean is there, but there are no cliffs, no big forced carries. It's just good links golf with the ocean as a backdrop through much of it. And it's a municipal. Most golfers would love to have it as their everyday golf course.

Even though it's less than 5,000 yards, Pacific Grove isn't easy. You have to manage your game. It's not a championship test, but it's plenty tough.

So if you're on the Monterey Peninsula this week – or any week – book a tee time. You can either call the golf shop or book a tee time on Golfnow.com. They'll fill up fast this week, but as of this publication there are still some remaining.

Play PG. You won't regret it.