After playing Cypress Point yesterday (and a mystery hole at another course somewhere ‚??round these parts, which will remain anonymous), we could be forgiven for thinking that anything else would pale in comparison. ¬†But we‚??d be wrong. ¬†Spyglass Hill ‚?? also part of the Pebble Beach mecca/complex ‚?? is phenomenal. ¬†And brutal, in equal measures.
Old Pro Larry O / Chief was again our generous host, as he was on Saturday up at Stanford. ¬†Larry‚??s been a member down here for 7 or 8 years, and kindly brings his pals along from time to time (saving them a whopping green fee of US$375!). ¬†On this bluebird Wednesday morning (which for some reason is reminding me of that Simon & Garfunkel song, ‚??Wednesday morning 8 a.m.‚?Ě - or was it 3 a.m.?), Larry also brought down a delightful gentleman by the name of John Schiro: a Californian who‚??s had a good life in the golf industry, and has recently retired. ¬†
We were late. ¬†‚??HURRY YOUR ASSES UP!‚?Ě blared Larry‚??s New York brogue across the carpark... ‚??F*#king Kiwis...‚?Ě. ¬†Gotta love this guy; at 76 he‚??s still got a mouth like a sailor. ¬†He said if we were another minute or two late he would‚??ve played without us ‚?? and knowing Larry (albeit only for a few days), he would‚??ve too! ¬†The self-proclaimed crotchety old sod also made it known that this would be the first time he‚??s played golf with a guy still wearing his pyjamas (my very suave LoudMouth ‚??Hamptons‚?Ě pants). ¬†Nothing gets past him.
For days on end we‚??ve been warned that Spyglass is a monster, particularly from the tips. ¬†The toughest course ‚??round ‚??ere for sure. ¬†Being the idiots that we are ‚?? idiots that like a challenge ‚?? we stepped up to the tips despite gentle suggestions from John that we consider playing from the golds. ¬†Not a bit of it, but thanks anyway John. ¬†Full glory, and aw that. ¬†I hit a pull draw into the rough and start to question whether it was such a good idea after all. ¬†
The 1st is a ripper of a downhill dogleg left par 5, at about 565 yards or something like that. ¬†When you round the bend the Pacific sits up at you on the horizon, with Cypress Point away to your left and Monterey Peninsula CC on your right. ¬†Not a bad opening scene. ¬†It gets better too, as we snake through the dunes on 2 thru 5. ¬†Jaw dropping views of the ocean and Cypress; and some pretty dam tough golf to boot. ¬†
3 is a classic little par 3 (see pic below) that plays severely downhill towards the deep blue sea. ¬†I was bamboozled by the oncoming wind and ended up over-clubbing ‚?? big mistake. ¬†My punch 7 iron sailed directly over the stick and ended up in what can only be described as A Bloody Awful Spot. ¬†As it turned out I was delighted to even get the club onto the ball, and walked off with a 5. ¬†Mike had more sense and hit it to the middle of the green, yielding a pretty straightforward 2 putt par. ¬†Larry‚??s banter was quiet for a few rare moments as he chopped and struggled through ice plant, tussock and sand. ¬†But it wouldn‚??t be long before he sparked up again and got stuck in ‚?? great stuff.
I won‚??t do a hole-by-hole in depth analysis because you‚??ll all hate me for it. ¬†But I must mention the 4th pic below), because I‚??ve never seen a hole like it. ¬†From the tee you try to find the slightly raised fairway that doglegs down to the left, parallel to the Pacific. ¬†There‚??s scrub on both sides of it, so the line is key. ¬†We both pick the wrong line, but my ball ends up lost. ¬†Anyway that‚??s by the by ‚?? what is interesting is the green. ¬†At 5 paces wide and probably 60 long, it‚??s like a bent coffin that a giraffe would use. ¬†It slopes severely down hill from the fairway; has 2 tiers; and has a little pot bunker at the back to catch anything long. ¬†Bowl-like contours bring slightly erroneous approaches skirting across from side to side like a pinball, and don‚??t do you any favours in the backspin department. ¬†You‚??ve just gotta see this thing to believe it.
You‚??ve also gotta see the houses around here to believe them. ¬†How all these folks accumulated the greenbacks to buy these mansions I will never know. ¬†And with views of Spyglass and Cypress, they‚??re just about every golfer‚??s dream I suspect. ¬†If any of the owners of the houses I‚??m talking about are reading this blog ‚?? on the off chance ‚?? I‚??d be more than happy to house sit for you during your next vacation. ¬†(You Kiwis back home will note I used the word ‚??vacation‚?Ě, rather than holiday. ¬†This, as with other words like ‚??attorney‚?Ě instead of lawyer, is an attempt to interact with Americans on their own terms on their turf ‚?? much like you have to do with the French, if you don‚??t want them to spit in your baguette).
Spyglass really beat us up. ¬†After the 5th you leave the dunes and weave through an ancient forest packed with thousands of massive ball stopping pines. ¬†The par 4s are long, and if you don‚??t hit the fairway ‚?? which is no mean feat from the back markers ‚?? you can quickly find yourself staring down double bogey or worse. ¬†God knows I did, on more occasions than I‚??d care to count or share with you lot! ¬†
Thankfully some golf was played by our playing partners ‚?? particularly by John. ¬†He‚??s off about a 7, from memory, but hit the ball gun barrel straight on the whole. ¬†John‚??s also been involved behind the scenes in supporting The First Tee, and had some sage words of advice for us in the context of our fundraising quest. ¬†It was interesting too hearing about his career in the golf industry, and with the now-defunct Waterford Crystal. ¬†He said that golf‚??s been good to him; that he‚??s been lucky. ¬†I reckon he‚??s just done well because he‚??s a very nice guy indeed, and not silly either. ¬†His recipe for success ‚?? and I hope he doesn‚??t mind me sharing this ‚?? was to provide a service and not ask people for anything. ¬†Well, that, and a lot of hard work. ¬†Anyway he was great craic.
After limping off the 18th green ‚?? beaten up, washed ‚?? we headed into the members‚?? clubhouse and Larry very kindly shouted us a burger. ¬†Not a bad burger it was too ‚?? although not in the same league as the one we had at Olympic last week (which remains #1 in the rankings). ¬†Pardon the pun, but we chewed the fat for a good hour or so, then got our things together and boosted down the 101 to LA. ¬†Dodgy served us well, and got us there in one piece. ¬†At roughly 6 hours it wasn‚??t a quick zip ‚??round the corner, but sharing the driving 50/50 makes life a lot easier. ¬†While Mick drove I had a nap in the back, and caught a few glimpses of the California coast. ¬†Really a nice way to travel.
Thanks again to Larry for having us at Spyglass, and for lunch. ¬†And thanks to John for your words of wisdom and very enjoyable company. ¬†Look forward to seeing you gents down under in January!
Photos to follow shortly...
Posting comments has been disabled.