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Age before beauty: Would you rather play St Andrews or Pebble Beach? That’s Debatable

April 7, 2020

In GOLF’s all-new series That’s Debatable, sponsored by Cisco WebEx, we’re settling some of golf’s most heated disputes. Our writers and editors have been seeded 1-16, battling head-to-head to determine whose takes are most on point. Up next, an argument almost as old as golf: St Andrews vs. Pebble Beach.

In today’s edition of That’s Debatable, a pair of GOLF editors seek to answer the question golf nuts have wrestled with for generations: is a beautiful golf course better than a historic one? Would you rather take a stroll across Swilcan Bridge in the midst of your round at St. Andrews, or is the true “home of golf” on the jagged cliffs and breathtaking vistas at Pebble Beach?

In our second matchup, it’s the 3-seed, our favorite junior welterweight, GOLF senior writer Josh Sens. In the other corner, the cheese-headed 14-seed, senior editor Nick Piastowski. The pair throw haymakers in the video above, but you can compare their notes below.

The case for St Andrews (Piastowski)

  1. The golf course itself, where every hole has a unique risk-reward element. Designs here were taken and duplicated throughout the world
  2. The golf course itself part two, where you have to manage the elements, manage the wide-open and uneven fairways and manage the iconic pot bunkers
  3. The experience. Imagine yourself walking up 18. You take your photo on the Swilcan. You sign your scorecard and shake hands – and reminiscence about the round over a pint at the local pubs.
  4. The history. Saving the best for last. It is the HOME OF GOLF. One plays calls itself this. There is actually no debate about this.
  5. The history part two. All of the great British Opens and memories. And for just under 150 years. The list of former champs is a who’s who – Jack, Tiger, Snead, Faldo.

The Case for Pebble Beach (Sens)

    1. Age before beauty? Not in golf. And there is no course in the world more beautiful than Pebble. Whether you get a blimp’s eye view or an up-close-personal, this scenery alone makes this place love at first sight.
    2. Holes 5-10 at Pebble represent the most spectacular stretch of coastal golf in the world, highlighted by the 8th, which Jack Nicklaus called the greatest par-4 on the planet. As for the Old Course, Sam Snead called it a “cow pasture.” And if anyone knew cow pastures, it was Snead.
    3. Granted, there is a certain masochistic pleasure in getting grunted at by a grouchy Scottish starter, or contracting hypothermia in a mid-July ice storm. But, I dunno. Call me self-abusive. I’ll take guaranteed sunshine nine months of the year.
    4. It’s not as if Pebble is shy on history either. It’s a more-than-century old links, host of the Clambake, six U.S. Opens and countless other big-time events. The list of Pebble winners—Nicklaus, Watson, Mickelson, Woods and on—stands up to any roster in the game.
    5. Three words. Prime Rib Chili. Ok, a few more words. It’s one of many superb dishes at the Tap Room, a throwback pub, steps from the first tee, that’s lined with historic photos and filled with lively conversation. It gives you all the old world atmospherics you could ask for. Pair that chili with a Central Coast pinot noir (the surrounding region, it should be noted, is a world-class destination for food and wine) and you’ve got a meal almost as memorable as your round. But I get it. Some people prefer haggis and warm beer.

Winner (via judge’s vote)

Pebble! St Andrews might have history on its side, but Pebble represents the completion of St Andrews’ groundwork (at least in the eyes of our judge). Sens continues on to battle the no. 1 overall seed in our bracket, Alan Shipnuck, in round 2. Keep it locked on GOLF.com and @GOLF_com on social media to follow along as “That’s Debatable” continues every day at noon!

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