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U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
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June 17, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Pebble Beach, located 117 miles south of San Francisco, is the most glamorous golf course in the rotation of the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday. The sixth hole is the uphill par five on the right side of the picture. The famous seventh is the tiny downhill par three that plays from right to left across the point of the peninsula. The spectacular eighth hole plays back toward the camera, with the second shot across a chasm (which my father almost fell into when we played it in 1973) You can click on the picture to get a bigger view. To decipher an aerial picture of a golf course, the crosshatched areas are the fairways of short grass, the light-colored ovals guarded by sand traps are the putting greens, and the light-colored rectangles are the tees.

The combination of sea cliffs and headlands level enough for a golf ball to stop rolling gives the course the combination of the sublime and the beautiful that Burke would have appreciated.

On the downside, the greens fee is supposedly $475, plus you really ought to take a caddy, who is extra. It`s ridiculous to take a cart and find yourself restricted to the cart paths away from the ocean. My father and I paid $10 each to play in 1973 (walking, carrying our own bags), so demand to play famous golf courses has apparently increased somewhat over the years. After we finished #18 (below), it was low tide, so we poked around down in the tide pools to the left of the fairway and found enough golf balls in a half hour to pretty much make up for the cost of our greens fees. Evidently, the economics of the relative prices of manufactured items versus desirable real estate have changed somewhat over the years.

Also, you can`t tell from the TV broadcasts, but many holes are lined, at least on the inland side, by houses (very, very nice houses, but still ...). My dad aimed so far away from the ocean on the 18th tee (the point of land at the bottom of this picture) that he bounced it off the front door of a zillionaire who lives to the right of the big fairway sand trap.

Also, on TV, as shot from the tower, the par 3 17th hole (the green is at the bottom right of this picture) looks like one of the most spectacular holes in the world, but in person it`s pretty dull-looking.