Incredibly, this course, which has been the site of the AT&T Pro-Am and its predecessors for decades, as well as other prestigious tournaments in its near century of existence, didn't play host to its first U.S. Open until 1972. You might remember that one, when Jack Nicklaus hit a laser 1-iron into the wind on the par-3 17th en route to victory.
Ten years later it was Tom Watson who chipped in at 17 to win, and there have been two more U.S. Opens since then, including Tiger Woods' incredible performance in 2000.
This could be the best yet because the golf course has never been better. Monday was media day, and except for the rough, which will be a little higher in just over a month, the course was set up to USGA specs. That means narrow fairways, difficult pins and fairly fast greens. The course has also been modified since 2000, with Pebble Beach board member Arnold Palmer directing a number of tweaks that should make this year's Open even more interesting.
For example, fairways have been cut all the way to cliff's edges on certain holes (like the par-5 sixth), making it easier to run one into the ocean. There's new bunkering, new teeing grounds and about 250 yards in added length, bringing the course to more than 7,000 yards for the Open.
The cool thing about the setup is that regular playing guests like us will be able to experience it all year, even after the U.S. Open is played.
The course is also in incredible condition, thanks to superintendent Chris Dalhamer and his crew. Greens were flawless Monday, as were the fairways and rough.
'I have never seen Pebble Beach as good as it is right now,' said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition. 'What that allows us to do is really kind of nit-pick between now and that second week of June and really try to get everything perfect. And it's so agronomically good right now that we're going to be able to do the things candidly that we want to do.'
At 7,000 yards, Pebble Beach is short by major championship standards. The course, however, is a great mixture of long and short holes, so the overall length is misleading. Just ask anybody not named Tiger back in 2000 when the course was just 6,800 yards long. Nobody in that field, with the exception of Woods, broke par. We could see more of the same if the wind blows and it stays dry next month.