Pebble Beach Golf Links is turning 100 this year and despite playing host to the US Open, I can’t help but feel like the course and renowned resort are falling behind the times. The sprawling resort on the shores of the Monterey Peninsula is home to a number of breathtaking golf experiences, but compared to other places in its peer group there isn’t much to celebrate these days. Golf resorts have entered a new kind of arms race in which courses are being renovated, varied amenities are being added, and fun is the new driving force for golf based entertainment, yet the Pebble Beach Company who owns and operates the resort doesn’t seem to be in the game. Every major resort in the country is seeking to create new means for attracting guests via reimagined golf facilities, but the folks at Pebble Beach seem to think they don’t need to.
I’ve written before about my opinions on Pebble Beach Golf Links. The course is majestic, yet it still leaves me wanting. The details seem overlooked to me, but I do love the place. In fact, I’m planning a return trip as I write this. Pebble Beach occupies my golfing thoughts on a frequent basis and I find myself pulled into debates about it often. Some folks think I’m crazy and others see the nuance in my thinking, but after some further reflection, I decided to author some thoughts on how the resort can make some much-needed improvements.
Not that they asked for my opinion, but as a repeat customer of the resort and its many delights I feel compelled to share my thoughts. For the purpose of this exercise, I am assuming the position of an experiential consultant. My background in placemaking with passions for golf design and travel give me a unique perspective on how Pebble Beach can secure its position as America’s best golf resort. I believe that if the Pebble Beach Company would give some of these ideas further consideration they’d see some seriously good press, illicit strong customer reactions, and inspire travelers to revisit the resort more often.
As a means for constructing some strategic priorities for Pebble Beach, I began with a simple SWOT analysis from the perspective of how the resort measures up to the competition. I also considered what today’s golf resort customers are looking for in a destination.
Let’s dive in…
- The Pebble Beach Resort is located on one of the great landscapes in American golf.
- The Pebble Beach brand is one of the most recognizable in all of golf.
- The resort controls four 18 hole golf courses and one short course.
- On-site lodging and dining are top-notch.
- Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill are routinely ranked among America’s best courses.
- People dream of spending a vacation at Pebble Beach.
- Round times are too long across all courses, but especially Pebble Beach Golf Links
- There are hardly any golf activities that can be viewed as added value for guests( Putting Course, Short Game facility, etc)
- The Peter Hay Par 3 course is treated as an afterthought and not a focal point.
- The architecture and presentation of the four golf courses are in need of renovation and stylistic upgrades.
- There is a significant fall-off in perceived quality from the resorts best course to its worst.
- Design and build the world’s most scenic putting course at Pebble Beach Golf Links between the 18th green and The Lodge
- Redesign the Peter Hay Short Course utilizing an up and coming architect with an exciting resume.
- Enlist one of the “Big 4″(Doak, C&C, DMK, Hanse) architects to reimagine Del Monte Golf Course as an English inspired sub 70 par course.
- Hire an in-demand consulting architect for each course who can guide strategic changes, stylistic upgrades, and improvements from year to year.
- Establish a strong walking culture and a faster pace of play across all courses by eliminating and or sharply reducing golf cart usage.
- The costs to play golf at the resort’s premier golf course are exorbitantly high and its sister courses are also expensive outings.
- Competitor resorts are investing millions to create more enjoyable atmospheres and compelling golf amenities while Pebble Beach has little to point to in that arena.
- The painfully slow pace of play across all facilities flies in the face of what modern golfers are looking for.
- There is a lack of personalization that permeates through the Pebble Beach hospitality.
- In an age where consumers are seeking “handcrafted” and “live like a local” experiences, Pebble Beach still feels more like an amusement park.
Based on this simple SWOT analysis, I have prepared the following suggestions on how the Pebble Beach Company could begin to turn the tide as it enters a new century at America’s most famous golf resort.
I recommend the resort adopt a set of guiding principles for its golf business that can serve as the reasoning behind every investment and improvement for years to come. These guiding principles can become the bedrock for which strategic priorities can be established moving forward.
Below each guiding principle is a list of strategic priorities that are aimed at achieving the stated goal of the principle.
Build the best golf experiences in America
The Pebble Beach Golf Resort will invest in both new and existing golf facilities as a means of creating experiences that define excellence in the industry.
Enhanced golf experiences will include…
- Putting on “Morse’s Hill” – Guests will be able to enjoy the best golf view in America on a new 18 hole putting course located between the Lodge and the 18th Green of Pebble Beach Golf Links.
- Playing the new Del Monte Golf Course – Guests can play on the oldest golfing grounds West of the Mississipi while enjoying a reimagined routing and the superb architectural features of one of America’s most interesting new courses designed by(Insert Big 4 name here).
- Enjoying an extra nine holes at the new Peter Hay Short Course – Guest will be able to play the best “emergency nine” in golf on the scenic short course that is designed to reflect the atmosphere of the early days of Pebble Beach.
- Exploring the grandest golf landscapes in America – Guest can enjoy a wide array of changes to Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, and Spanish Bay that are designed to highlight the architecture and natural features of these world famous golf courses.
Jumping in on the Pebble Beach discussion: I started a deep dive blog post awhile back about how the course could get closer to its 1929 Egan self.This is a rendering containing some of those ideas. Totally hypothetical and for fun—I know nothing of their current design situation pic.twitter.com/vm3Kce8pwC
— Brett Hochstein (@HochsteinDesign) June 12, 2019
See an outstanding vision for pebble beach golf links improvements from architect Brett Hochstein.
Create a golfing culture that promotes the very best aspects of the game
The Pebble Beach Golf Resort will be a place where golf is a fun and sporting pursuit which is enhanced by the on-course experience, uncompromising attention to detail, and world-renowned hospitality.
A new golfing culture will offer…
- The best walks on earth – Guests will have the opportunity to walk the most scenic golfing grounds on the planet with fewer distractions and more intimate experience.
- Select play during twilight hours – Golfers staying at the Pebble Beach Resort will be eligible for reduced rate replay opportunities on all courses in the twilight hours. Subject to availability after all full rounds are in play each day.
- Foursomes play during Winter mornings – During the months of December through February resort hotel guests are eligible for foursomes play at a reduced rate on all courses before 9am.
- America’s best caddie program – Pebble Beach Caddies will be versed in the details and history of the golf course and the surrounding areas serving as in round concierges during every playing experience.
- Creators in Residence – Guest will be able to enjoy unique lectures and art showings that feature the work of America’s best golf writers, photographers, and artists who are staying on site at the resort during seasonal residency.
My vision for Pebble Beach may sound like a pipe dream, but I honestly believe that with a few strategic changes the resort could elevate itself far beyond any of its competitors. The Pebble Beach Company has every piece needed to create hands down the best golf destination in America, but to achieve that level of prominence there need to be a series of smart enhancements to the overall product.
There are few places that inspire golfers to obsess over the possibilities as Pebble Beach does. Count me among the many that hope to someday see improvements like these made to one of the most amazing places for golf in America.