The Doctor Shares His Experience At Pebble Beach

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In my last post, I showed you the gifts The Doctor brought back for me from his visit to Pebble Beach Golf Links. The following is his review of his time at one of the mos famous golf courses in the world. After reading it, I am even more jealous. One day I'll get there. One day...

The Doctor's Round At Pebble Beach.

With Spyglass Hill under our belt, after a good dinner at the Tap Room (a steakhouse at the Lodge at Pebble Beach), and a relaxing night by the fire pits at the Inn at Spanish Bay, we were giddy to get out and play the links at Pebble Beach. Our tee time was at 10:10. Our plan of attack; Wake up early, get out to the course so we can take in breakfast at one of the most historic golf courses in the world before our tee time.

Let me just tell you, as you drive into the grounds at Pebble Beach, you cannot help but acknowledge that you are entering hallowed ground. The mist still prevalent, as you wind to the club house, you note the Peter Hay par 3 course that you can play for a reasonable price. No better place to grab a few clubs, a cold drink, and work on your approach shot accuracy, judging distance in the heavy, foggy air, and working on putting. No time to stop there, we had a date with the links.

As you pull up to the bag drop, a rod iron archway inscribed with the words “Pebble Beach” makes itself noticeable. Again, service is outstanding. The clubhouse is slightly more ornate and visually stunning when compared to Spyglass. Again, each clubhouse seems to fit its surroundings perfectly. The Pebble Beach clubhouse has a retail section where you can find almost any souvenir, item of clothing, or other trinket. Adjacent was the golf shop. We checked in, and the gentleman let us know we could go hit some balls, putt, or grab some food. As we already ate breakfast, off to the range we went.

At Pebble, you must take a short shuttle to the driving range. The facilities are amazing. This time on the practice tee, my goal was to relax, focus on tempo, and keep my head down. I was striping balls the entire time. It seemed my pre shot routine, tempo, and swing thoughts were in the right groove. After hitting a small bucket, we chipped, and then putted, then looked at the clock. 9:55???!!!! Gotta get to the tee and meet our caddies.

This time, we had Nathan and Tony. They were both very nice, displaying their knowledge of the course from the get go. We met the starter, he wished us luck and hopefully some sun, and our round was underway.

My dad hit a perfect tee shot. Hole 1 is a dogleg right par far with a slightly elevated green. My pops put his drive about 120 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway. Mine was just right of the fairway about 180 yards out. My hands got a little ahead of me on my downswing and I didn’t hit the best drive. No worries, 5 iron from the rough, faded a bit and I was hole high, right of the hole, needing to pitch over a bunker and hopefully keep it on the green. My caddie says, you want to keep it left of the pin, there is a back stop that should help keep the ball on the green. Only problem, was the grass was so thick. Relax, breathe, tempo. Lucky me, I succeeded in holding the green. Just missed my par putt, walked off with bogey.

Now I’m 1 over on Pebble beach, walking to the tee box of a shortish par 5 with trouble right, bunkers left, and a large ravine that splits the fairway at about 100 yards from the green. Nathan says, “You want to hit driver, keep it right of the bunkers on the left, and avoid hitting it right. Some miracles happen and this drive was one of them.

I pasted it just where Nathan asked. Left me about 200 yards from the green. He suggested I lay up short of the ravine, making sure I kept right of strategically placed trees that were on the left side of the fairway.

I grabbed the correct club, easy swing, hit a great shot but it had a draw. I actually split the trees and my ball pitched a little bit forward. I was 80 yards out, just in front of the trees with an awkward stance. I focused, and with my lob wedge hit the ball pin high on the left side, about 10 feet. THE BEST SHOT OF MY LIFE!! At this point, I could tell that my caddy Nathan was getting excited, thinking, “I guess this guy is ok”. He helped me with the read, and believe it or not, I sunk my birdie putt!!!

Yes, After 2 holes at Pebble beach, playing from the gold tees, I’m EVEN! I remarked, "I should just head into the clubhouse so I can head on a high note." Hahaha. I needed more. Hole 3 and 4 proceeded as we approached the coast line with each step forward. Bogey, bogey on those holes. And then, as if someone was looking over us, the sun started to come out, blue skies breaking through the mist and fog that was hanging over our heads.

Funny note about hole 4: My drive was in the middle of the fairway, still stroking the ball purely. I had 100 yards or so to the pin. I grabbed my lob wedge relaxed and hit a perfect shot, or so I thought. I heard Nathan saying “Get down, Get down”. My ball flew over the green just beyond a greenside bunker. Nathan asked, what did you hit, by now knowing how far I hit certain irons. (It was this skill that amazed me the most, after only a few holes, he knew how far I hit my irons and would actually anticipate what club I’d need). I answered, “Lob wedge”. As I handed it to him he smiled wryly, showed me the club I gave him and it was my approach wedge. I had made the mistake of grabbing the wrong club. Had I picked out the correct one, I’d be putting for birdie, not left scrambling to get up and down for par. Nathan says, “How about this, from now on, you let me know what club you want to hit, and I’ll hand it to you”. Point taken. Needless to say, I did not get up and down and walked off with a bogey.

Number 5: A Short par 3 with amazing views of the water, cliffs, and amazing homes. I drew the ball slightly, just missing the green. Once again, up and down takes highly skilled, precise shots, which I could not muster. Bogey me up again.

Playing holes 6, 7, and 8 was a religious experience. Hole 6, a long par five with a large elevation that needs to be dealt with on the second shot. That shot cutting the corner of the ocean, elevation somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 feet. One of the most spectacular holes I’ve ever seen. I hit the best drive of my life, right down the middle, about 250 yards from the hole. The next shot was a five iron. My second shot, was the first bad shot of the round (other than the one on 4 where I chose the wrong club out of the bag, I hit that one so well, I don’t consider it a bad shot, just bad club selection). I let the imagery of the elevation and water creep into my swing thought, I tried to swing too hard, and topped it. Fortunately it stayed in the fairway and advanced about 50 yards. The 3rd shot was much better, easy swing, good tempo, it sailed up the fairway, over the water, up the elevation, leaving me middle of the fairway about 60 yards away. The green has a false front, and my caddie suggested a bump and run but I need to practice that shot before I’m proficient. I chose sand wedge, much to my caddie’s chagrin, and pitched it to the green.

My goal was to make sure I was putting. I hit it too hard and left my putt about 30 feet from the hole, down hill, breaking right to left. After Nathan’s read, I almost holed it out for par. Walking off with a bogey kept me more than satisfied. I should comment that my dad, chipped in for par from right of the green (probably his shot of the day).

Hole 7- short downhill par three, out on a peninsula. Water and cliffs right and long of the green. I chose a sand wedge as the yardage was about 110 to the hole. Fortunately wind did not play a factor. Sun still shining, our group having way too much fun. I hit my shot just long of the green, but still playable, leaving a tricky downhill chip out of thick grass. I chipped it about 8 feet short of the hole, and walked off after a two put. Bogey check, no shot in the ocean…check, having the time of my life, check.

Hole 8. Par four, blind tee shot, and what my father described as “one of the most amazing views in golf once we get to our drives. Not knowing what to expect I asked Nathan what the play was. He advised, “Perfect shot needs to go about 230, aiming just right of that rock” (a directional aid for us amateurs no doubt). He asked me “so what club do you like”. I answered my hybrid, he smiles and said “I think your 3 wood is the shot”. Deferring to his expertise and how quickly he became accustomed to my shot and distances, I pulled out the 3, and thought to myself, “let’s get it.” I actually hit a perfect drive. Leaving my about 10 yards short of a sheer rock face, that while standing on the tee box, I had no idea was out there.

My dad was right. Standing over my ball, looking towards the green, one cannot help but notice that the same elevation we went up on hole 6, we now had to descend to the green on number 8. It’s a gentle dog leg right, over this cliff, and water, to a tiny green surrounded by sand. Ocean, beach, and residents of Carmel are like ants from our vantage point. As amazed as I was from the view on number 6, I was blown away with this view. I had about 170 to the pin. Chose a 6 iron and unfortunately looked up at the last moment, causing me to fade it into the sand. How can you blame a guy for looking up on this hole?? The view is too nice to be missed. In hindsight, I wish I kept that urge in check.

As Dex and many others know, my sand game needs work. Ultimately resulting in a double bogey, after 2 good shots, it’s a shame that it took 4 shots to get up and down out of the sand.

With those 3 holes complete our round continued. Every hole is a testament to how beautiful the world can be. The course is so well maintained, and can hurt you at the slightest breakdown in concentration. I played mainly bogey golf from here on out, with a couple of high numbers. Pebble beach has the smallest greens on the PGA tour and the difficult part is that when you miss the green, you have to craft amazing shots in order to achieve the up and down. This is what mainly contributed to my score. Even when I had the distance right, if your alignment is off, and draw the ball unexpectedly, or fade it, you can have a very difficult shot from just 5 feet off the green. If you couple that, with greens that are deceptive in speed and break, I understand why the slope is what it is.

My experience at Pebble Beach exceeded what I could have expected. You see the course on television, you see how the professionals navigate the course, but until you walk it yourself and have to deal with the anguish and elation of your own shots, it is difficult to truly realize how perfect the course is. It is visually stunning, challenging, rewarding, punishing, diabolical, and angelic all in one.

The bad shots take a distant second to the memories of the good shots. I will never watch another event at Pebble beach the same way again. From the very instant you enter the grounds, you feel something special in the air. As you walk around the Lodge, viewing the trophies on display, the pictures of G-Mac, Lefty, among others really helps you see how special of a place it is. Numerous restaurants and shops are on the premises(for those golf widows of course). Just be careful of the $133,000.00 ring on display at the jewelry store. That could make for one expensive round of golf!!! Pebble Beach surly has something to offer almost anyone.

All photos courtesy of The Doctor


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Comments (2)

  1. September 15, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Maybe I should visit this Pebble beach someday and have some great and fun golfing experience there together with my buddies.

  2. September 16, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    Seems like it would be an excellent trip to me. From everything The Doctor told me, it was all that, and more.