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Pebble Beach: America's Top Golf Resort Is Better Than Ever

June 20, 2017

Article by Larry Olmsted for Forbes.com (Read original article)

Fairway One at The Lodge

There are a handful of world class golf resorts in this country that legitimately contend for the subjective title of "best," mainly Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes and Destination Kohler. But the reality is if you gave golf fans the chance to take a dream vacation to any of them, Pebble Beach would be the overwhelming pick. It couples three excellent courses with drop dead scenery, luxury accommodations, endless food choices, and one of the finest golf instruction facilities in the world, plus it's a true full-service resort with tons of activities: there's an equestrian center, a huge Forbes 5-star spa, beach club and two full-service tennis centers. There's so much going on here, including one of the world's most famous car enthusiast events, the Concours d'Elegance, and one of the food world's biggest public festivals, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, that it is the rare golf resort equally popular among those who don't play at all.

But golf remains the heart and soul of Pebble Beach, home to an amazing history in the sport, between all the Majors played here, the US Amateurs and US Women's Amateurs, and the annual television coverage of one of the sport's most colorful PGA Tour events. It's been on the airwaves more than any other golf resort in the world, and is one of only two public courses that have hosted two different Majors, the US Open and PGA Championship. When you play Pebble Beach Golf Links, you walk in the footsteps of the game's greatest players on holes so striking they are known around the world and etched in the collective memory of generations of golf fans.

In fact, Pebble Beach is so rich in history that the resort has tended to get mired in the past, and much of the time, while rivals open new courses and add flashy upgrades, not much happens here. I've visited a few times over the years, and while now and then a restaurant changes concept or something gets tweaked, until recently it was pretty much business as usual. The last really big addition was the resort's third and most luxurious hotel, the boutique 24-room Casa Palmero - and that was 18 years ago. But suddenly, the resort is nearing the end of what for Pebble Beach has been a huge multi-year series of upgrades.

The first recent change was the construction of something so lacking it was long a black eye for the nation's most famous golf course - a decent practice area. Three years ago a double-ended 350-yard driving range with natural grass tees and a 40,000-square-foot short game complex with bunkers, chipping areas and putting greens opened. This was joined by a new state of the art 3,000-square-foot instruction facility, the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, containing three studios equipped with the world's best technology including a revolutionary robotic swing trainer, 3D motion capture system, HD video analysis, computerized putting stroke evaluation and indoor golf simulator. They also have one of the top ranked instructors in the country, Laird Small, and a variety of multi-day immersion academies. As a result, Pebble Beach is not just a place to go to play golf, it's a place to go to learn how to play golf, or simply to play better.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg as the resort gears up to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2019. In honor of this centennial, the USGA awarded the Pebble Beach Golf Links, the most famous of the three courses onsite (the other two, Spyglass Hill and the Links at Spanish Bay, are both stunners as well, and there's a fourth nearby) the 2018 US Amateur and 2019 US Open.

In preparation, all of the 454 guest rooms in the three existing hotels, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Casa Palmero and the Lodge at Pebble Beach, abutting the first tee of its namesake course, are undergoing an extensive renovation (in phases, with many already done). These are substantial: at both the Lodge and the Inn, windows are being greatly expanded in size to showcase views, and upgraded fireplaces, technology and air condition are being added in addition to complete décor and furniture remodels. At the Lodge, all ocean-front patios and decks are also being doubled in size to serve as an outdoor living spaces.

But the biggest news this year is the August grand opening of Fairway One, a new hotel within the Lodge at Pebble Beach hotel. Fairway One is a 38-room compound along the left side of the first fairway, with 30 rooms in three two-story buildings, and eight in two luxurious four-bedroom golf cottages - a fixture at several top resorts but a first here, and absolutely perfect for the foursome on their dream vacation. The Fairway One Cottages each boast a 1,000-square-foot living room, 17-foot-high wood-beam ceilings, wet bar, dining area, floor-to-ceiling stacked stone wood-burning fireplace, four queen and king bedrooms, and an outdoor terrace with fire pit. Starting at 660-square feet, the other 30 rooms are all oversized and significantly larger than typical luxury hotel rooms, with open floor plans and large picture windows and terraces framing panoramic views of the golf course and Pacific. Fairway One also has several meeting and event spaces and can be booked as a complete group buyout.

"The Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links are where our story began in 1919, and now, as we approach our 100th anniversary, the addition of Fairway One will help us continue that legacy for the next 100 years," said Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Company (via release). "Our guests will find that Fairway One maintains the style, personality, and signature amenities and services that they have come to expect at The Lodge, while delivering a little more privacy and an upgraded experience all its own."


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