Here on the Monterey Peninsula, where the Del Monte Forest meets Carmel Bay, this is where you find the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Now, how you play Pebble Beach Golf Links, well, that’s another story.
Usually, the best plan is to refrain from hitting your golf ball onto rocks, shells, seals or anything pertaining to water.
Also, it’s a nice idea to keep the ball from rolling into any shadows, because that nearly always means you’re under a tree the size of a building crane.
And if the wind blows, it naturally changes everything. If Pebble was difficult before, it’s nearly impossible when it’s windy.
So what is the best way to play the U.S. Open course at Pebble Beach?
Chances are it’s the Tiger Woods way.
Woods, the favorite in the 100th U.S. Open that begins today at Pebble Beach, obviously knows something about the famed course, because he won here in February when he came from seven shots down with seven holes to play.
Nobody plays Pebble like Tiger . . . and here’s how Tiger plays the demanding, challenging layout, where the country’s national championship will be decided for the fourth time.
Woods even knows where.
“The 17th on Sunday,” he said. “That’ll be the hole.”
In the meantime, here’s Tiger’s look at the 18 holes of Pebble Beach Golf Links:
HOLE 1, 381 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“You have to give yourself a chance at hitting the green. If you hit the ball down the right side, you will be blocked out by the big tree in the corner. So it’s important to hit the ball in the fairway there. And from there, don’t hit the ball beyond the hole. You’ve got to stay below the hole. It’s a pretty steep green. You walk away with four there every day, you’ll be off to a good start.”
HOLE 2, 484 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“It used to be a par five. It’s going to be a tough hole. You must drive the ball in the fairway in order to give yourself a chance of getting over the gully. If you drive the ball in the rough, you have no chance. You’ve got to lay up and play it as a par five. Psychologically it’s going to be a little more daunting because you know if you make five there you’re losing a shot to par, even though five used to be par. And you’ve got to make four there every day.”
HOLE 3, 390 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“You’re going to have to hit a three-wood or a four-wood off the tee to get the ball on the fairway. From there, just play it, stay on the green, take your par and run.”
HOLE 4, 331 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“That’s a hole where they’ve grown the rough in on the left so much that the left bunker is not even in play anymore. You just need to hit the ball in the fairway and from there, well, this is one of those holes you can get a birdie by not hitting the ball in the fairway. But it would nice to get a three there two out of the four days.”
HOLE 5, 188 YARDS, PAR THREE
“It’s a hole where you have to be very selective. You pull the ball left, it will be a very difficult up and down from anywhere on the middle or left-hand side of the green because it’s so steeply pitched. You’re going to have to put the ball on the green, stay committed to it and put it on there. It’s not an easy shot, especially if the wind is blowing.”
HOLE 6, 524 YARDS, PAR FIVE
“That’s a hole where you would like to get birdie at least three of the four days. Drive it down there in the fairway and try and get there in two. If not, maybe short of the green, pitch up, then up and down. If you can birdie there three of the four days, you’ll be looking pretty good.”
HOLE 7, 106 YARDS, PAR THREE
“You can play this hole all different kinds of ways depending on what the wind is. But generally it’s a birdie hole and you feel like you can attack that flag wherever it’s at on the green, go ahead and get your birdie.”
HOLE 8, 418 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“It’s the first real wake-up call to Pebble Beach. You’ve got to hit a good tee shot and from there, that second shot is one of the most daunting second shots in golf. I know one of the things that [caddie] Stevie Williams and I have, you hit that second shot and you don’t say a word. You don’t know whether to say “get up” or “get down.” It’s just up there forever. If you can walk away from there with four every day, boy, you’re going to pick up a couple shots on the field.”
HOLE 9, 466 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“Either this hole or No. 10 is the toughest hole on the course. If the wind is blowing, they’re playing about the same. It’s such a tough driving hole. You have to draw the ball off the tee, keep it in the fairway. From there, you have one of the toughest greens to hit. Off a downhill, side-hill lie, to try to hit a long iron, it’s not easy.”
HOLE 10, 446 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“Again you need to draw the ball off the tee and keep it on the fairway. From there, it’s a little easier shot, but still, you’ve got the gully to the right, you’ve got a bunker left, and it’s a tough shot to be committed to.”
HOLE 11, 380 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“It’s got a narrow landing area and you need to hit it on the fairway in order to keep it on the green. If you drive the ball in the rough there, you have no chance in getting the ball to stay on the green. The green is such a small target and it’s so steeply pitched, you need to be coming in there with a wedge for some spin on it.”
HOLE 12, 202 YARDS, PAR THREE
“It’s always firm, especially the back edge, so you need to land the ball on the front part of the green. I know the left side has always been very, very firm. It’s going to be a tough shot. You need to hit the ball high and soft, but not only that, you need to put the ball on the right part of the green.”
HOLE 13, 406 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“It’s got three new fairway bunkers and you need to hit the ball down the left side of the fairway to give yourself an angle where you’re firing back up into the hill. From there, keep the ball at all costs below the hole. If you do that, you’ll do just fine.”
HOLE 14, 573 YARDS, PAR FIVE
“It’s one of those holes where it doesn’t really matter if you drive the ball in the fairway or not. You just need to get the ball out there. And if you drive the ball in the fairway, great; if you don’t, that’s OK, you’re going to just lay up anyway. It’s not a hole you can get to in two unless the wind is howling downwind. But it’s a daunting hole because you need to be able to have a short iron into the green where you can spin the ball and keep it on the green.”
HOLE 15, 397 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“One of the more simple holes? Especially since they lost the tree on the left off the tee. Since they lost that tree, it allows you to play a fade off the tee instead of having to draw the ball to just keep it in the fairway. Guys are now hitting driver off the tee because you know you can go ahead and rip it down there and you know that tree off the tee is not in play anymore.”
HOLE 16, 403 YARDS, PAR FOUR
“Just get the ball on the fairway and try to keep the ball left and short of the hole, if you can. From there, you have an uphill putt.”
HOLE 17, 208 YARDS, PAR THREE
“It’s one of the hardest holes in golf if the wind is blowing. You have a long iron or a wood into the green and you have absolutely no bail-out area. There’s nowhere to go. You need to hit the ball right there at the right spot and try to make par. If you make par, you know you’re probably going to pick up a couple of shots.”
HOLE 18, 543 YARDS, PAR FIVE
“If it’s downwind, you can get there in two with no problem. But since they’ve grown in the rough on the right-hand side where the tree is, it brings the ocean into play now. You step up there and be committed on your tee shot. From there, if you have a chance to go for it, take advantage of it. If not, lay it up and make birdie the old-fashioned way.”
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PEBBLE BEACH SCORECARD
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT
Par 4 4 4 4 3 5 3 4 4 35
Yardage 381 484 390 331 188 524 106 418 466 3,288
Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 IN TOTAL
Par 4 4 3 4 5 4 4 3 5 36 71
Yardage 446 380 202 406 573 397 403 208 543 3,558 6,846