Pebble Beach has some of the most beautiful views in golf. It’s nestled against the coastline and has open views of the Pacific Ocean. But the scenic views come at a cost.
This course has some of the most challenging holes as weather and wind also are factors – and can change in an instant.
“Pebble Beach is a course that you play once and you remember each hole forever,” Rafa Cabrera Bello said last year. “Every single hole is different from the previous one.”
There are five holes that will test the golfers. It starts on the front nine with the second hole, which demands distance and accuracy. Then the stretch of 8, 9 and 10 can be just as challenging as Augusta National’s “Amen Corner,” but that’s not the only challenge.
Five holes where Pebble Beach will be won … or lost
This hole rotates between a par-4 and a par-5, but has served as a long, tough par-4 at the past two U.S. Opens. That again will be the case this time around, and golfers will have to navigate a narrow fairway that’s, at the most, 30 yards wide.
They will want to drive it as far as possible, as it’s the second-longest par-4 on the course at 516 yards. But it’s more than the distance that will make or break golfers on this hole. There are bunkers that line the fairway and a moat-like bunker guarding the green.
These three holes deserve a nickname that stands alone, and that’s the reason they are grouped together.
The late famed golf writer Dan Jenkins dubbed this stretch “Abalone Corner.”
At first, it’s one of if not the most beautiful views in golf.
The par-4 eighth starts just past Stillwater Cove, a public beach inside the private community of Pebble and sits at the top of a 100-foot cliff. It’s not the slight dog leg that will be difficult, but the second shot that has proved the most challenging. Tiger Woods, the three-time U.S. Open winner who recorded his first championship at this major in 2000 at Pebble Beach, said it’s the toughest second shot in golf.
“You don’t know whether to say ‘get up’ or ‘get down,'” he said in 2000. “It’s just up there forever. If you can walk away from there with 4 every day, boy, you’re going to pick up a couple shots on the field.”
If golfers can make it unscathed through 8, they next face 9, which has one of the smallest greens on a course that is dotted with small greens. But that’s after the fairway that slopes down toward the water.
The awkward side-hill lie can also get golfers on the 10th hole. It’s the last stretch along the bay and has the widest fairway on the course, but players will have to commit to their shots and try to avoid the bunkers on the left.
This cruel par-5 is a three-shot hole for most players. But don’t expect many drivers, hitting the ball too far on this hole will send golfers into the USGA’s punitive rough.
Once in the fairway and advanced, it’s the third shot that can be the toughest.
The entire hole is uphill, which increases the effective distance by almost 30 yards, from 573 to what feels like 600 yards, and because of this elevation, the green tilts up. It will leave golfers with a blind shot to the green between two yawning bunkers.
If players make it through to Sunday and then, if leading, through those five holes relatively unscathed, then that leaves four holes as the tension of trying to win a major.
Translation: You can’t win the U.S. Open on these five grueling holes, but you sure can lose it.