Saturday, 1 January 2011

7th at Pebble Beach

From the Tee

There is a great storey about one of the old time players, during an extremely windy round at The Crosby, playing his putter off the tee and down the cart path and into the front bunker. He promptly got the ball up and down for a par. The 7th at Pebble Beach is that short. On a windless day, you get to the top of the hill, look down and immediately think now this is an easy shot – except normally there’s plenty of wind coming off the ocean. The wind at Pebble either howls across the green meaning you have to start the ball over the ocean, or blows straight into the tee meaning that a slight pull or push can easily find the ocean. The player has to stand on the tee and make an allowance for the wind.

 Before you dismiss the hole as weak without the wind, let’s look at the hole itself. The shot is all of 107 yards downhill to a tiny 2,800 square foot green that is completely surrounded by bunkers. For most players this isn’t even a full swing, and therein lays a major complication for them, the hole is about feel and judgment. Today’s player prefers a full swing to a known distance on a level elevation, so it becomes about mechanics. This hole is about judging the relative distance, the effect of the wind and ideally hitting a short knock down shot.

Even if I can’t buy into the hole being complicated, just take a look at what you see and where you are. The symmetry of the composition is magnificent particularly with the front bunkers and each feature is in perfect balance with the next one. Add to this one of the best view on the course with the ocean as a backdrop and you have one of the most beautiful holes in golf.

Playing famous courses is all about generating great memories, whether from the joy of the place, or hitting a memorable shot. The 7th at Pebble is a clear opportunity for any player to make a birdie on North America’s most famous course – the hole can single-handedly make someone’s round.

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