Pebble Beach brings back roller-coaster 10th tee box for Pro-Am Sunday
There are, it turns out, two ways to play the 10th hole at Pebble Beach: the way it was built, and the way God intended.
The former of the two routings is simple, straightforward, and inarguably effective. It is four-hundred and ninety-five yards of strategic drudgery, requiring a straight, sturdy drive to place oneself in position to execute another straight, sturdy approach, and, if both previous steps are executed properly, will provide a straight, sturdy putt for birdie. For decades, it has served as Pebble Beach’s official U.S. Open routing, and through three days at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, this routing has ranked as the fourth-hardest hole at Pebble Beach.
The former is a good routing, yes, but it was not the routing God intended. No, you couldn’t find that routing unless you were looking for it. The routing God intended lies on a cropping of land next to the 9th green pitched at a 45-degree angle from the original tee markers. It is some 150 yards closer to the flagstick, and when utilized, turns the 10th hole into a canvass of shot creativity. At just 356 yards, the 10th hole’s alternate routing makes it drivable for the pros, but not without a significant buy-in; the viewpoint from the tee box means players seeking to drive the green must carry their tee shot over the ocean and the cliffs below. Anything further left will wind up in danger, while anything further right is, well, seal food.
The PGA Tour has experimented with this hole configuration in previous years, and the results are fairly conclusive: using the alternate routing turns the 10th into a scoring hole. In last year’s Pebble Pro-Am, the 10th hole played a half-stroke easier from Saturday (normal routing) to Sunday (alternate), seeing 4 birdies or better and 127 bogeys or worse on Saturday to 24 birdies or better and only 3 bogeys or worse on Sunday.
So, where did the mysterious tee box originate? According to the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson, who explored the routing back in 2014, the tee box was part of the course’s original routing, but was left unkempt for years by Pebble Beach’s maintenance staff. Part of the issue with the alternate tee, Ferguson found, was that its proximity to the 9th green made it bad for both pace of play and player safety.
On Sunday, though, the best players in the world proved ample reason for an exception. As the pressure rose, would the leaders risk going for it on Pebble Beach’s 10th? Or would they stay back safely? Jordan Spieth, who entered Sunday’s final round a stroke back of the lead, offered a hint to Ferguson back in 2014.
“If I grow up and I’m smart, I’ll probably lay up,” Spieth said. “If I’m under 30 years old, I’ll go for it.”
Just like God intended.