PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Making changes to the Sistine Chapel of golf is never easy, but restoring it to its original design should be encouraged.
Douglas Grant and Jack Neville designed Pebble Beach (No. 8, Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses) to play along the water as much as possible and utilized the Pacific Ocean as a hazard.
No. 10 is one of the holes that runs along the Pacific. In Grant and Neville’s 1919 original design, the hole featured the back tee right of the ninth green and forced the golfer to take on the ocean.
Over time the tee became overgrown by kikuyu grass, and the tee was moved left of the ninth green as the 10th hole was lengthened. But when rebuilding the ninth green in 2013, historic photos of the ninth hole were used and the old tee rediscovered.
Now, just right of the ninth green is a tee that would required a golfer to hit it about 349 yards to reach the front of the green, making the 10th a potential drivable par 4 for the game’s longest hitters.
“We have yet to sit with Mike Davis (managing director of the USGA) and talk about exactly what the U.S. Open setup will be like,” said R.J. Harper, an executive vice president of the Pebble Beach Co., regarding the potential of using the tee for the U.S. Open in 2019. “But that’s going to be this year, as well as the (2018) Amateur. So no firm plans.”
Harper also said that the 14th and 17th greens would be rebuilt before the 2019 U.S. Open.
The 14th has only about half of the green that can handle a hole location. The plan is to rebuild the back left of the green to keep balls from rolling off the green and recapturing a hole location on the back right of the green.
On the 17th, the middle part of the green will be widened and the front will be flattened, but the overall size will not change dramatically.
“It’s not the original design by any stretch because it was really flat,” Harper said. “Bunkers were flat. We like the fact that from the tee box, when you’re back on the back tee, you’ve got some visuals that allow you to see contour, and that’s what we’ve done over time with some of the bunkering. But way back when, it was flat as a pancake, and that’s not the way that hole should look and feel.”