I opened this series with this statement, “All courses should have at least one – all players look forward to playing them – the biggest difference is what is now defined as reachable.” It was for a reason, and that is that technology has taken a few holes that were originally designed as three shot par fives and made them reachable –and much more interesting than they once were.
Pebble Beach has arguably the best finishing hole in golf, but the advancements in technology have made this an even better finish, now that players can try take on the hole in two mighty shots. So let’s look at what makes this hole great – other than the ocean.
The tee shot begins on a peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. The player is given a simple and enticing choice from the tee. How much are you going to try and cut off to shorten the hole. The way the tee shot works; the player can’t help but try and take to aggressive a route - often to find his shot in the ocean now having to hit three. The player who can cut the corner can be rewarded with a shot at the green.
Looking back from the green
Two architects notes before I continue on the approach. First the “stupid” tree (and second tree planted behind it) in the fairway is ridiculous and completely unnecessary to the hole. It only publishes a shot to centre of the fairway – huh? Second I must comment that the approach shot going for the green is very low percentage because of the size and the slight cant of the green – but that has never stopped anyone from chasing glory before has it?
The approach shot is made by the massive pine (recently replaced with one from the 1st hole) that knocks down players bailing right. The green is open from the second shot but players have to skirt the tree on he approach shot from the lay-up area. The left side approach of the green is bunkered and the ocean is hard up against the left side of the green. Finally to place a premium on the approach a deep bunker covers the right front of the green – the bails side! - meaning a rolling approach must flirt with the ocean on the left. A tough approach for those long enough to give it a go.
The green site is tiny and precise – even for the lay-up approach - but there are plenty of recovery options from the bunkers and the expansive rough right of the green site. The 18th at Pebble Beach was one of the best 18 holes in golf, now it is also one of the best “reachable” par fives too.