NCGA Golf

Spring 2019

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Grove several years ago, it was quick to rec- ognize the Bandits' unofficial sovereignty. "We embrace the locals," said a Cour- seCo spokesman. "It's kind of cool having something like the Bandits here where you can say, 'Gosh, these guys have been here on that first tee every Saturday morning since 1971.' " The course itself is a serendipitous match to this culture. At 5,727 yards from the tips, PG today plays to a par of 70 (67.9, 113), features two opening par 3s and a tight remaining front side. The scenic back nine rolls and tumbles untouched at the foot of the historic lighthouse. On a sparkling day, there's an ocean view from each back nine tee box. "Jaw- dropping" springs to the descriptive mind. But the aqua-chromatics and crashing distant surf far surpass the wonder that produces a mere slack human mandible. Outsiders still refer to Pacific Grove as "The Poor Man's Pebble Beach." But ask a PG regular and he will tell you they got it wrong. Said one Bandit recently, "It's the other way around: Pebble Beach is the rich man's Pacific Grove." Ever comfortable in its own skin, Pacific Grove will happily and busily go about its business during the long shadow cast by the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, June 13-16. Without drilling down on price points, know that a local can purchase a season pass at PG for roughly the same price of two caddied rounds at Pebble Beach. If Pacific Grove is a hidden gem nation- ally, it has never flown under the radar of NCGA members. Even the caddies at Peb- ble Beach, a tight-knit clan rightfully proud of their own workplace, give PG its props. "PG, along with Old Del Monte, will always be the heart and lungs of golf locally," says Mike Lehotta, a longtime Pebble looper and former Pacific Grove resident. Tom Doak, before he ascended to his elite status as a course architect, wrote an iconoclastic series of appraisals in a 1996 book titled "The Confidential Guide To Golf Courses." Doak's wide-ranging compendium pulled no punches, but he was knocked out by Pacific Grove's simplicity and lack of airs. He also praised its "low cost approach to course maintenance in the Justin Rose; all-around great player, consistent ball-striker — M. Harrison Tiger Woods; because he won in 2000 by 15 strokes — S. Crist Dustin Johnson; he's on fire right now and has won at Pebble — T. Bolinger Matt Kuchar; he's having a hot year! — S. Porterfield Rickie Fowler; great place to finally win his first major — R. Anderson Phil Mickelson; to win the Grand Slam at Pebble Beach — T. Powers Brooks Koepka; three in a row is a story for the ages — P. Jackson FORUM Members Who is going to win the U.S. Open and why?

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