The Visual Evolution of Pebble Beach

During its first decade, Pebble Beach Golf Links underwent a number of design changes. None more visually striking than the period leading up to the 1929 U.S. Amateur when the course looked like a giant dunescape. Special thanks to Pebble Beach Company historian Neal Hotelling for helping curate the images.

Released on 6/11/2019

Transcript

00:00
[light music]
00:01
[Narrator] The first decade of Pebble Beach Golf Links
00:04
reflects the growing pains of any championship golf course.
00:07
Challenge and character are rarely
00:09
fully formed on opening day.
00:12
Samuel Morris initially developed the course
00:14
to sell home sites in the Monterey Peninsula Forest
00:17
along 17 Mile Drive.
00:20
He had the good judgment to reject a preliminary land plan
00:24
and instead reserve the land closest to Carmel Bay
00:27
for fairways, not backyards.
00:29
Morris selected Jack Neville and Douglas Grant,
00:32
two former California state Amateur champions
00:35
with little design experience to stake out his course.
00:39
They did their best but gave him an amateur design.
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When it first opened in February 1919,
00:46
Pebble Beach had mostly square greens,
00:49
a few bunkers shaped like cigars,
00:51
and more weeds than manicured grass.
00:56
Although half the holes did meander along the ocean bluffs,
00:59
with the exception of the par-three seventh,
01:01
they were kept a respectable distance
01:03
away from the cliff's edge.
01:06
To stimulate land sales,
01:07
Morris wanted Pebble Beach to host the US Amateur,
01:10
a major championship in those days.
01:12
But USGA Officials were unimpressed with the course
01:15
so Morris hired professional architects to make big changes.
01:20
Herbert Fowler converted the
01:21
straightaway par-four 18th into a par-five
01:24
that curved along the turbulent coastline.
01:28
Alastair Mackenzie, busy planning Cypress Point next door
01:31
remodeled the eighth green, surrounding it with bunkers,
01:34
as well as the 13th green.
01:38
Still, the real transformation didn't occur until 1928
01:42
after the USGA announced it would hold the
01:44
1929 US Amateur at Pebble Beach.
01:49
H. Chandler Egan, a golf architect from
01:51
Medford, Oregon, and two-time Amateur champion
01:54
moved to Pebble Beach to supervise
01:56
a near total reconstruction of the golf course.
02:00
He shifted the ninth fairway closer to the ocean
02:03
and pushed its green back to the edge of the ocean canyon.
02:06
He created a double-wide green shaped like barbell
02:09
for the long par-three 17th.
02:12
To make Pebble feel more like a lynx,
02:15
Egan made bunkers look like sand dunes,
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artfully shaping them using knobs,
02:20
fingers of sand, and seagrasses.
02:24
Pebble Beach was the talk of the nation
02:26
when it hosted the Amateur in 1929,
02:30
and it's still hailed as a masterpiece
02:32
of golf architecture 90 years later
02:34
as it hosts its sixth US Open.
02:37
But like any golf course,
02:39
Pebble Beach has continued to evolve.
02:43
Long ago, the Pacific claimed chunks of
02:46
the ninth and 10th fairways.
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Ocean squalls eroded Egan's sand dunes,
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turning them into conventional sand pits
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which then ate into portions of several greens.
02:57
Today, Pebble's fourth, seventh, eighth, and 17th greens
03:04
are smaller than the sand bunkers that surround them.
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None were that small in 1929
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when Pebble hosted its first major.
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But the tiny targets of today
03:14
are now an accepted part of Pebble Beach's personality.
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[light music]
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