Playing Pebble Beach? Here are 5 basics to know before you go

pebble beach's 18th hole

Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the most famous courses in the world.

Zephyr Melton

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Pebble Beach is a name synonymous with golfing greatness.

It’s long been called “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.” Johnny Miller once deemed it “heaven designed.” Jack Nicklaus said if he had one more round to play, he would choose Pebble Beach. There are few places in the sport that command as much respect.

And unlike some of the other hallowed grounds of the sport, Pebble Beach is open to the public! As a part of Pebble Beach Resort, the famed golf links is available for play to anyone who antes up enough cash. (That should be Tip No. 1 — bring your wallet.)

Ahead of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, I was fortunate enough to get out to the iconic course for a preview of what the ladies will face this week. Here are five things I learned during my round that you should know for yours at Pebble Beach.

1. Expect five-star accommodations

Staying at the resort is, in most cases, a prerequisite to playing the course. Consider it an investment in your enjoyment. As soon as you arrive at Pebble Beach’s lodge, which overlooks the 18th green, you won’t lift a finger. Bell hops meet you at your vehicle when you arrive and see to it that your bags make it to your room before you do. Your golf bag is also taken care of as they see to it that it’s away and loaded onto the proper cart. But don’t be too quick to leave the lodge. You’ll want to spend a little time perusing the memorabilia in the clubhouse, or having a pint in the taproom. There’s plenty of history on display, and you’ll be glad you took it all in.

2. Save room for souvenirs

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Snagging a logoed hat or shirt is a great way to commemorate your time at a world-class course, and you’ll surely want to do so Pebble Beach. But be sure you save plenty of room in your luggage for extras — the options at here are seemingly limitless.

Surrounding the putting green near the 1st tee, there’s essentially a mini strip mall of shops with all sorts of Pebble Beach swag. No matter your style, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye. Just be sure to vet your options before heading to the register. It’s almost certain you’ll find more than one thing you like.

author hits shot on Pebble's 7th hole
The 7th hole is the perfect spot for a photo op. Zephyr Melton

3. Keep your phone handy

I’m typically one who likes to stow my phone away while playing golf — but at Pebble Beach, that’s nearly impossible. Throughout the course — but especially holes 4 through 10 — you’ll find picturesque views that make your jaw drop. And just as soon as you think you’re done taking photos, another view will come along and have you taking even more snaps. At a certain point, you’ll become resigned to it and keep your phone handy the rest of the day. You’ll be thankful you did when reminiscing on your bucket-list day.

4. Layer up

Pebble Beach is located on the Monterey Peninsula, where the weather is fickle. During my round, we played in both sunshine and rain, with a variety of temps throughout the day. If you’re trekking out for 18, you’d be wise to layer up. There’s nothing worse than ruining your round because you didn’t dress properly.

Pack extra golf balls

Pebble Beach isn’t exceedingly difficult (in benign conditions), but for nine of your 18 holes, you’ll have the world’s largest water hazard just to your right. The Pacific Ocean makes for one hell of a view, but it can also act as a magnet for golf balls if you start to lose your swing. If you deposit a ball into the ocean, though, don’t sweat it — even the pros have hit a few wayward shots around here. Just be sure you have enough golf balls to get yourself through the round.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at