BOB WEST ON GOLF — Playing Pebble requires serious financial effort

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 12, 2020

It’s difficult to imagine any golfer watching the breathtaking views from Pebble Beach this past weekend on CBS and not fantasizing about playing there just once.

Seeing oneself on the tee at the short, par 4, 7th, taking on the rugged stretch along the Pacific from 8 through 10 or tackling the gorgeous par 5, 18th is quite a rush.

Take the word of someone who has been there and done that, it’s more spectacular in person than on television.

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The sobering reality, however, is most folks probably can’t afford or justify the price of 18 holes at Pebble Beach these days. Trying telling your wife you are getting ready to pay $575 for one round of golf. That’s right, the greens fee is $575 — or it will be as of April 1.

That’s a bump of $50 from the rate the past couple of years.

Since demand for a tee time is non-stop, those who set the prices believed golf nuts wouldn’t blink at an increase. Demand is such, in fact, the only way to guarantee a tee time is to stay at the Lodge at Pebble Beach — $940 per night — or the Inn at Spanish Bay ($840).

The option, if you are a non-resort guest, is to try book a time over the phone on a rare slow day, or walk up 24 hours in advance. If you get lucky, plan on a near six-hour round because you and everybody else will be taking photos non-stop.

Among public access courses in America, the only one with a steeper fee than Pebble Beach is Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. The stunning brainchild of hotel magnate Steve Wynn and architect Tom Fazio will set you back $600. Plus, you have to be staying at the MGM Grand and only two foursomes per day are taken.

My experience at Pebble Beach dates back to 1975. I played it on a foggy, chilly July 4 day for a mere $45. By my next opportunity, roughly a decade later, the cost had jumped to a still reasonable $110.

Not long after that, with Japanese involvement in ownership, and Japanese golfers coming to the Monterey Peninsula by the planeload, the fees started soaring. And, as the bump to $575 suggests, they aren’t about to stop.

Golf news should be e-mailed to Bob West’s column is sponsored by 5 Under Golf Center.