By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle
There are two compelling ways to convey why Pebble Beach annually ranks as one of the world’s most desirable golf destinations.
One, take a walk onto No. 18 – or any of the other eight holes bordering the Pacific Ocean – and check out the sweeping panorama. The contrast of emerald green grass and shimmering blue water really never gets old.
Two, consider Pebble’s rich golf history. The course has hosted five U.S. Opens, with another on tap in 2019, and counts some of the game’s most decorated players among its Open champions (Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Tiger Woods). Plus, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am annually blends the worlds of sports and entertainment in the spirit of tournament founder Bing Crosby.
XOJET is now the Official Private Aviation Partner of Pebble Beach Resorts, an alliance XOJET chose partly because of this distinctive mix of scenery and history.
The partnership will give XOJET clients preferred access to golf and amenities at Pebble Beach, transfers to and from the airport, and the opportunity to attend celebrated events such as Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the Pro-Am.
The picturesque setting at Pebble includes at least a partial water view on nearly every hole. The most captivating sequence starts at No. 4, launching a stretch unlike any other in golf – each of the next seven holes runs along the water.
This includes the shortest par-3 in major championships (No. 7), a wind-whipped, 106-yard downhill hole practically hanging in the ocean; what Nicklaus has described as the greatest second shot in golf, the approach over the cliff’s edge at No. 8; and two long and daunting par-4s (Nos. 9 and 10).
They say Pebble is the greatest meeting of land and sea, and noted golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. offers no argument.
“The whole venue of Pebble Beach is like the Vatican of golf,” Jones once said. “It’s got the greatest golf art in the world, all in one place.”
He was referring not only to Pebble Beach but also to other acclaimed courses in the Del Monte Forest: Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. (The Pebble Beach Company owns Spyglass and Spanish Bay as well as Del Monte Golf Course, a few miles inland.)
Pebble provides the added cachet of history, dating to 1947 with the Crosby-turned-AT&T Pro-Am and ’72 for the U.S. Open. That was the year Nicklaus hit his famous 1-iron shot through a ferocious wind and off the flagstick at No. 17, leading to a tap-in birdie and cementing his victory.
Watson created a similarly storied moment at No. 17 in 1982, holing his epic chip shot to beat Nicklaus and win the Open. Woods carved out his place in Pebble lore with a landmark, 15-shot triumph in 2000, the most dominant performance ever in a major. Tom Kite (1992) and Graeme McDowell (2010) also won the Open at Pebble.
These memorable performances serve as a tidy complement to Pebble Beach’s striking natural beauty.
By Ron Kroichick
Ron Kroichick has worked at the San Francisco Chronicle since 1995, when he came from the Sacramento Bee. He is the paper’s golf writer/columnist, writing a weekly column and covering the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and other Northern California events. He also writes features on the Golden State Warriors during the NBA season, and on various other topics – ranging from major-league baseball and the NFL to college football and basketball – the rest of the year.
Kroichick is a five-time honoree in the Golf Writers Association of America writing contest, placing first in daily news and third in daily features in 2010; earning honorable mention in daily news and daily features in 2011; and again earning honorable mention in daily features in 2013.
He also has been recognized five times by the Associated Press Sports Editors, including second place in best game story and best news story, third place in best feature, fifth place in best investigative reporting, and honorable mention in explanatory reporting (all in the over-250,000-circulation category).