We head to Pebble Beach, California this week for the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The PGA pros will be accompanied by amateurs and celebrities to put on a show for the fans at 3 separate venues. The will be teeing it up at Spyglass Hill Golf Club, Monterey Peninsula Country Club ( The Shores) and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Let’s take a closer look at all three venues and our picks for the week.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Spyglass Hill Golf Club will have the player’s full attention this week. Every year this course is ranked as one of the toughest on tour, especially if the wind picks up. The 6858 yard Par 72 course was home to the US Open in 2010 and showed its ability to make players look foolish. Dustin Johnson had a 3 shot lead going into Sunday where he unfortunately shot 82. He should still have plenty of confidence this week though as he has won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in both 2009 and 2010.
The course record at Spyglass Hill is shared by Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald who both fired 62’s on this challenging track. To go low at Spyglass one will have to manage their way through holes 5, 8 and 16. These four holes will give the players fits all week.
Hole 5 is a 197 yard Par 3 that the players will need their best iron shot on to ensure they don’t end up with bogeys or worse. Nicknamed ‘Bird Rock’ the Par 3 is surrounded by 3 pot bunkers, one of which is the deepest and most challenging on the course.
Hole 8 is the number one handicap hole on the course and is a beast of a 399 yard Par 4. You might be thinking to yourself, 399 yards is not long at all for a Par 4, but this one is. Uphill all the way to the green, the players are faced with two difficult shots only to get to a green with a large crown near the centre. A four here is an excellent score.
Finally, Hole 16 is a 476 Yard Par 4 that the players will want to get through and head as quick as they can away from it. This tree lined dog leg right nicknamed ‘Black Dog’ will challenge the players off the tee. A large tree protects the right side of the fairway forcing the players to shape a shot. A straight shot off the tee has potential of running through the fairway setting up a long and difficult approach. In 2010 there were only 12 birdies all week on this hole.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club (The Shores)
The 6838 Yard Par 70 Monterey Peninsula CC Course replaced Poppy Hills in the rotation of Pebble Beach courses last year. This challenging ocean front golf course has a gorgeous design thanks to Mike Strantz. With very little foot traffic on the course (its private) and the PGA players coming to play, we can expect pristine conditions this week.
The course is filled with plenty of undulation, rocks, trees, grass and the ocean. When combining all three of these factors the players will have to take into account not only the land and the grass they are hitting off of, but the wind. Located right on the ocean the wind can cause havoc on the pros this week if conditions deteriorate even slightly.
The Par 3 11th is the courses signature hole and demands an excellent tee shot. It is a 176 yard hole with an elevated tee block (on the natural rock), hitting towards a difficult green. This is a hole that really shows its muscle when the wind picks up. The players will have to rely on the help of their caddies and natural feel to hit this green and come away with a birdie opportunity.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
A classic golf course and one the players love coming to, Pebble Beach offers everything. Coastal lined fairways, massive undulating greens, ocean views and perfectly placed bunkers will be challenging the players this week at Pebble.
Pebble has held the honour as the Number 1 Public Golf course in The United States for the past three years (has an excellent chance of making it a four peat as well). Playing as a 6816 yard Par 72 course, Pebble offers the players plenty of risk and reward shots. Shot shaping and accurate club selection is key to player’s success while playing this California master piece.
Hole number 18 is the one most of us think of when we hear Pebble Beach. A 543 Yard Par 5 that lines the Pacific Ocean, hole 18 can win and lose tournaments. To hit this green in two you will have to bomb a drive and hit a very accurate iron shot. The green slops toward the ocean and has many subtle breaks. Hopefully we witness some drama unfold this week on the famous 18th.
These picks are sent out via email to members only. I will give you a sneak peak on one of my 6 pack system picks released this week for an outright winner at the tournament — but if you want all my golf picks for 2012 including the picks for this weekends AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am you can head over to www.GolfBanker.com to become a member.
Sneak Peak Pick:
Ricky Barnes (125/1)
Ricky is the type of player who steps up when the big tournaments roll around. This tournament is always a big one but with Tiger making his first start of the season, media attention will be wild. I look for Barnes to embrace this as he always does and play very well. Ricky does not have a great past at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am but I feel this will change in 2012. Look for him to play very solid all-around golf and once again outduel some of golf’s biggest names.