Would you pay $500 to play Pebble Beach?

The Scoop

Alex Perry and Mark Townsend lock horns in Alternate Shot

Pebble Beach is rather spectacular, we can all agree on that. But is the $500 green fee – around £360 – acceptable? Two of our writers discuss…

Yes, says Alex Perry

The price tag reflects the fact that you’re playing one of the most iconic golf courses in the world.

I’m not a massive fan of Wentworth’s West Course, but I’ve played it a couple of times and every year I watch the PGA Championship and love comparing the pros’ efforts to how I got on. (What’s that? Oh, I birdied 18 both times. But this isn’t about Wentworth.)

Whatever you think of the course, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a good watch and it’s mainly for the visual experience. Now imagine you’re actually there, with the sun beaming on your face and a gentle breeze keeping things at a nice temperature.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

And everywhere you look? Just jaw-dropping scenery.

I grew up in the West Country where the golf courses offer all of this and more – Royal North Devon, St Enodoc, Trevose and Perranporth to name just a handful – but, and I’m sure they won’t mind me saying this, they would love the prestige that Pebble Beach carries, both as a regular Tour stop and as a place for amateurs to play.

I was lucky enough to play the Old Course at St Andrews a few years ago and it only cost me the tip for a caddie. The experience was such that I spent most of the drive home thinking that round could have cost me £1,000 and I wouldn’t regret it. I feel the same about Augusta, especially as it is looking more and more unlikely that I’ll ever qualify for the Masters.

Pebble Beach, at $500, would be in the same category.

When you’re old and grey and lying in bed dreaming of the time you played Pebble Beach, I find it hard to believe that you’d be regretting paying out the hefty price tag.

No, says Mark Townsend

Of all the strange things that happened at the weekend Jack Nicklaus said that if he had one round left in him he would tee it up at Pebble Beach.

I don’t have a dog but, if I did, I would definitely like to walk it on the beach there. But to shell out 500 big ones along with whatever it is to have to stay there for two nights? That would never be on my bucket list.

Away from the small greens which would suit my inaccurate iron play and horrific short game I don’t massively enjoy huge elements of the course – I might never finish playing the par-5 14th, the 17th is just odd and, I might well be wrong as I’ve never been there, but chunks of it look like a big field.

Augusta for $500? Yes please. Say what you want about its negatives but, in life, would you ever give up the chance to drive down Magnolia Lane, play Amen Corner or have a dart at 13 and 15?

Having read Mark Frost’s The Match I would probably shell out to play Cypress Point, just along the highway from Pebble Beach.

Too much is made of Pine Valley for it not to be worth it, the same with Oakmont and Shinnecock Hills and some of the sand-belt courses in Australia. These would all my perfect days out, not chugging round Pebble Beach in six hours with your caddie.

Or just jump in the car, head to Scotland or Ireland and tick off the other classics for a fraction of the price. Lucky, aren’t we?

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