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Been doing some catching up this week and saw an interesting tidbit from Doug Ferguson of the AP (bolding is mine for emphasis):

“Of the 200 hardest holes on the PGA Tour this year, only one was a par 5 – the 14th hole at Pebble Beach was tied for 20th with an average score of 5.341.” Link

I don’t have similar stats for 10, 30, or 50 years ago but it seems safe to say that this is a surprisingly low (and probably decreased) number of Par 5′s on the list. We’ve been over the continued distance increases (and the associated effects on the game of golf as we know it) a few times here at PGT but this stat sheds some light on the decaying importance of particular hole types.  More specifically, it’s really hard to make a 3 shot hole difficult.  So how does the 14th at Pebble still have teeth?  Well, it is long, measuring 572 yds at sea level.  But the real obstacle is the treacherous green.  Anything hit short right runs back into the fairway and long left can run down a hill as well.  The story goes that the green was created by a non-golfing artist.  Over time, sand from explosion shots in the front bunker has altered the nature of the front right portion making it more severe.  At higher stimp speeds there are virtually no fair pin placements on the right side of the green which shrinks the effective area of the green to a miniscule size.  As many may remember from the 2010 Pebble Beach National Pro Am, Paul Goydos took a 9 to fall from contention.  He was the third golfer of the day to take 9 on 14.  At the US Open that year, Paul Casey took an 8 after his first chip returned to his feet, his second went over the green, and he followed with 4 putts to fall from contention.

Here are some shots of the green:

 

So, basically, you’d better have an upside down saucer for a green if you want a stiff test for the pros on a par 5 these days.  I guess any type of challenge is better than no challenge at all but it would still be so much fun to see a few par 5′s with narrow fairways lined with creeks or thick heather type grasses, all to be navigated with persimmon and a wound ball.  That’s what makes a Par 5 a Par 5 and not a long Par 4.

9 Responses to “The Par 5 14th at Pebble”

  1. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    PGT, I played Pebble once (Aug 1997). Was playing very well for a few years and that year I think my cap was around 3.8 or 4. I was so pumped up that August day, got on as a solo non guest. Shot even on the front after a bird bird start. Par’d the great stretch of Par 4′s Jack said where the best (8,9,10). After a big drive up the right hand side on 14 my caddy says while I pulled a 2 iron to lay up. (Just don’t got right). I pushed my 2 iron to the right, only about 5 or 6 feet from OB. I was partially blocked out by a tree, but managed to hit a full PW to the front part of the green, it rolled back, not down the hill, but maybe 5 feet off the front. Pin was back right. I made 5 !! Doubled 18 for 76. Probably my best ball striking day ever. My caddy read putts and I made a lot because of him.

  2. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    pin was back Left I mean.

  3. Awesome memory Fred. Do you recall how you had to play your chip? How far was the putt that you holed?

  4. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    It’s a shame that the par 5s are no longer much of a test of golf. The par 5′s on most courses generally give a pro three or four easy birdies before he’s even teed off. The answer is to change the equipment or ball for pro golf, but the golfing authorities seem to be resisting that one.

    It would be fun to watch a 54 hole event where first round they had to use hickory, then persimmon/blades, and finally the last round with the modern stuff.

  5. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Riley, I think I chipped a Sand Wedge crisply to the top of the hill and left myself a 10 footer, which I made. I have a clear memory of just about every shot that day, but for some reason I don’t clearly remember that chip, but I know I made 5 from the front. My caddy put me back to the “disks” which are used for the US Open on the last 5 or 6 holes. On 17 the pin was front right and I hit a 3 iron just past the pin in the 1st cut of rough. Good up and down for 3 there. Hit the 3 iron stiff. ( was playing orig. Big Bertha irons). Made some good up and downs that day. On the 8th, the par 4 , 2nd shot over the ravene, hit a 6 iron just over the green and had a super fast chip, which hit the pin and almost went in. Made a 10 footer up hill there for par. On 18 they were rebuilding the tee so it was closed that summer. Tee’d from way up front, which was a downer. I wanted to hit 3 wood, but my caddy convinced me to hit driver and go for it in 2. I hit it OB Right. My caddy wanted to jump in the bay after that. He felt pretty bad. LOL. Double there for 4 over. Ever played there?

    • Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

      Must have been great to have your A-game with you on such a classic course Fred!

      I was at St Andrews last Friday (unfortunately without clubs) but got to walk the 17th Road Hole and the 18th and over the Swilcan bridge – there is magic on that links, and I bet Pebble feels similar.

      The Golf Museum is well worth a visit for anyone heading that way. They have some cool stuff like Seve’s Wilson JP II wedge he used to win The Open, plus a Henry Cotton driver that was painted all white about 70 years before TaylorMade “invented” that with their R11 and Burner range.

  6. No I have played Spyglass Hill but Pebble Beach is still on the bucket list

  7. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Playing Pebble was a trip. I drove from Union City, CA to Pebble that day, left fairly early am. I was shocked when I got to the Peninsula (Monterary) , had the windows rolled down it was about 80 degrees and it dropped about 20 degrees in about 50 feet of highway. I knew then i was getting close. I must have watched the AT&T 15 times and always dreamed about getting to Pebble , when I drove into the property, I was really surprised how a lot of the holes are close together and you drive very close to a few of them on the way to the parking lot. Before I played i had lunch up above the 1st tee and sat with a guy who had just played. He gave me the low down on a few pins. I remember him telling me he hit a SW on the par 3 7th, downhill to the ocean. I also hit SW there to about 20 feet, 2 putted. My caddy took a pic of me on that tee, i’ll have to post it. There are so many great tee shots on that course. One of my favorites was the 9th with the Pacific in clear view. I hit a huge tee shot there up the middle, high with a slight fade, hit 9 iron from the 1st cut of the rough. The ball really rolls down that fairway. I almost birdied 10, hit 8 iron about 10 feet and missed the putt. It was a blast. It was also cool to play there before they closed that par 3 on the front and replaced it with the one Jack Nicklaus designed. That was a really strange shot, but I liked that hole. I think i could have played the front in under par, but knifed a sandwedge 2nd shot on the short par 4 5th into the front bunker and took double. Coulda Woulda…

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