Review: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links is located in Pebble Beach, California, along the stunning coastline of the Monterey Peninsula. It is the flagship course of Pebble Beach Resorts’ quartet of courses which also includes Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Del Monte Golf Course.

I previously wrote about my first round at Pebble Beach, and now that I’ve been fortunate enough to play it a second time, I couldn’t help but review the Pebble experience again. Not to mention that the second time around was the morning of our wedding day!

Since it was our wedding trip, we splurged and treated ourselves to three nights at the Pebble Beach Lodge. I can’t say enough about the experience at The Lodge. The service you receive from the staff is impeccable, the rooms are gorgeous and spacious (and equipped with cozy wood burning fireplaces), and the food at the resort is to-die-for.

Our cozy fireplace, where we enjoyed a bottle of wine on the eve prior to our big day, and possibly on the other evenings as well:

The Lodge Pebble Beach fireplace

We had a room overlooking the first tee box which was a lot of fun. They are cheaper than the ocean view rooms, plus you can sit out on the balcony in the morning while eating room service and watch all the excited/nervous golfers get their round started. It’s incredible to see what the first tee of Pebble Beach does to golfers. Decent looking players on an innocent tee shot will pace around in circles with their hands shaking so much they can barely tee their ball. It didn’t help when they glanced over at the balcony and noticed they had a gallery.

The view of the first tee from our room at The Lodge:

Pebble Beach Lodge fairway view room

We were the first group off at 7:30am — just the two of us and our caddie, Rocket. I felt some nerves, but not because it was my wedding day, it was because I was standing on the first tee of Pebble Beach! It’s a tame opening tee shot, only requiring a 200 – 220 yard shot towards the bunker at the corner of the dogleg, but the fact that you’re at Pebble Beach is hard to put out of your mind.

Beth getting ready to rip one down the fairway of the par 4 1st hole:

Pebble Beach Golf Links #1

Many of you will already be familiar with the layout of Pebble Beach. You’re eased into things on the opening two holes. They aren’t bad holes by any means, but they’re more of a warm-up for the stretch of golf you’re about to embark upon. As you turn the corner of the dogleg left par-4 3rd hole, you catch your first glimpse of the ocean.

The par-4 3rd hole tee shot. You can see some of the grandstands being set up for the AT&T National Pro-Am. The 3rd is very underrated.

Pebble Beach Golf Links 3rd hole

The ocean views start to ramp up as you play the 4th and 5th holes. The view looking out from the par-3 5th tee box:

Pebble Beach 5th tee

The 4th and 5th holes get you ready for what may be the best stretch of holes in all of golf, and certainly one of the most famous. Holes 6 through 10 at Pebble Beach are what golf dreams are made of. When I’m on this iconic stretch of holes, it’s as if I’m walking on air. This isn’t just golf with a beautiful view. It’s superb golf with a beautiful view. Some of the best holes in all of golf, steeped in history, awaiting anyone in the world with $500 (although sometimes you can play it cheaper – click here) in their pocket to come and take in their beauty.

Yours truly on the par-5 6th tee box:

Pebble Beach Golf Links 6th hole

Beth on the 6th hole:

Pebble Beach 6th hole

The iconic par-3 7th hole, one of the most photographed holes in the game:

Pebble Beach Golf Links 7th hole

I hate to brag, but I started off this iconic stretch of holes by tallying birdies on both the 6th and 7th holes. After finding the fairway on the difficult par-4 8th hole, I was staring down this approach shot over the ocean cliff to give myself a chance at three straight birdies:

Pebble Beach Golf Links 8th hole

Although my approach shot narrowly missed the green, I was able to salvage my par and keep a good run going. Here’s a good view looking back up the cliff to where we came from, with Beth pitching from the fairway just short of the green — a very common place to miss:

Pebble Beach Golf Links 8th hole

After the difficult 8th, there isn’t much time to catch your breath as you finish off this ocean-stretch with two more difficult holes that run parallel to the ocean cliff. The approach to the par-4 10th hole:

Pebble Beach 10th hole

After par at the 9th hole from the fringe, I gave myself another birdie chance at the 10th hole, but settled for par and finished the iconic stretch of ocean holes in 2-under par. If my memory ever starts to fail me, I’m confident that this one will be one of the last to go.

As you move inland, the ocean isn’t completely forgotten as you can still see, hear, and feel it on the next few holes. A view of the 10th green as seen from the 11th hole:

Pebble Beach 10th green

You hear a lot of people criticize the non-ocean holes out at Pebble Beach, but I wouldn’t go so far as to criticize them. They aren’t bad holes, they’re simply “pretty good” holes sandwiched in between some of the best holes in the game, which makes it easy for them to seem disappointing in a relative sense.

A common critique is the green of the long par-5 14th hole. It is extremely small (update: still relatively small but has been recently expanded), with a falloff on the front right and is protected by an extremely large bunker in front. Our caddie, Rocket, told us that in 35 years of caddying at Pebble Beach that he has never caddied for anyone who has reached this green in two. That streak wasn’t put in jeopardy by us. There have been some players on the PGA Tour who have accomplished the feat, but it is very uncommon.

The approach to the 14th hole:

Pebble Beach 14th hole

By the time you’re coming off the 16th tee, it’s difficult for your mind not to wander ahead to the tee shot you will be facing on one of the most famous finishing holes in golf. Once you walk up on the 18th tee, I promise you, you won’t want to leave. I experienced mixed emotions of being excited to play the iconic finishing hole, yet not wanting the experience to end.

As much as I’m an advocate of quick play, the 18th tee at Pebble Beach is definitely a time to pause — take some photos, reflect on your experience, and soak in the history of all the greats that the 18th tee box has wielded.

Pebble Beach 18th tee

The view from the fairway, next to the famous tree. If you look carefully down the left, you can see where my tee shot ended up. I pushed it a little left of my target, but got away with it and went on to make a 2-putt par.

Pebble Beach 18th hole

Looking back on the 18th hole, a perfect end to a perfect morning:

Pebble Beach 18th hole

The experience at Pebble Beach is tough to beat. Hole for hole, it may not be the best golf course on the planet, but it arguably has the best five hole stretch in the game and offers an experience that is tough to top for a public access golf course. Five-star service, perfect conditions, the famous old greens (some the size of a car hood), breathtaking ocean views and history that gives you goosebumps the whole way around.

If you don’t want the rest of your day to be a let down after playing Pebble Beach Golf Links, simply marry the woman of your dreams on a beach in the afternoon, and your day will only get better.


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22 thoughts on “Review: Pebble Beach Golf Links

  1. Josh, awesome review. Pebble is on my ever growing bucket list. Maybe when my kids are finished with college and I take my foot off the gas, I’ll make it out there. How awesome was that to play one of the greatest courses in the world and score well to boot.

    So was Beth equally as nervous as you on the first tee and for the same reasons?



    1. Brian,

      Thanks a lot! Pebble isn’t going anywhere, so you have lots of time to check it off your bucket list. Scoring well was certainly a bonus, was very happy to break 80 after shooting my area code the first time I played there. It’s the kind of experience that you’ll enjoy no matter what, scoring is almost secondary, but as I said it was a nice bonus.

      If Beth was as nervous, she certainly didn’t show it as much as I did!


  2. Josh, I came across your Blog via Twitter. You do an awesome job on these. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review of Links at Spanish Bay as I am playing it in two days. Then I read everyone from Northern California. I have played almost every course you reviewed in this area and IMHO your commentary is spot on. Take care and keep the reviews coming. Next time you are in Nor Cal you need to find this course, Yocha Dehe GC, located 50 miles West of Sacramento. Fantastic layout. Cheers!

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you very much for the kind words, they are much appreciated! Enjoy your round at Spanish Bay, and make sure to have a bite on the patio by the fire pits after! I will note down Yocha Dehe GC for our next trip to Cali, thank you very much!

      All the best in 2016 on and off the golf course.


    1. Playing Pebble sure is an experience of a lifetime! Holes 6-10 is one of the greatest rides we can find in golf. That’s cool our rounds weren’t too far apart. Great time of year to visit since it’s not as busy.

      Cheers, and Happy New Year!

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