Great friends, good food and good golf at Pebble Beach

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July 28th 2008
Published: August 16th 2008
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Inflight romanceInflight romanceInflight romance

Planning our future together ...
It was not hard to get ready for another fun trip even though we just got back from Hawaii. We shared with everyone our engagement news and we were both getting calls and e-mails to congratulate us. As the weekend approached, we packed up again for our next destination - Pebble Beach. I had to make an important stop first ... at my local pro shop to pick up a new Titleist driver.

Brent, Martin and I prepared this trip about a year ago and it started out as the boys' golf trip. Somewhere along the line, we changed it to a couples' outing to Pebble Beach. And I supported that decision 110%. We had a nice quick flight to Monterey and we were picked up by a van from The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Great advice from Martin to arrange hotel transportation to pick us up since the boys were not traveling light ... with golf bags and extra suitcases. For once, I didn't pack light because I was not sure how the weather was going to be like.

It took us less than half hour to go from the airport to the hotel. I got excited as
Great friends togetherGreat friends togetherGreat friends together

Happy hour at The Terrace
soon as the van went through the gate and we were officially at Pebble Beach. This is the Pebble Beach that I had seen over and over on TV. Once I finished checking in, I was given a small bag ... to the surprise of Brent. Inside the bag was a custom engraved tag for my golf bag that I ordered with the concierge the day before.

The room at The Lodge is very spacious with a balcony overlooking the garden and the parking lot (I could not get a seaview room). It was nice to have a fireplace with real wood placed next to it. I was glad that I got a room on the ground floor. I did not want to take my golf clubs up and down the stairs.

As planned, we then all met up at The Terrace, overlooking the 18th green of Pebble Beach Golf Links for happy hour. It was such a nice, sunny afternoon with a cool ocean breeze blowing in. We could see golfers finishing up their round and getting picked up by a cart that would take them back to the club house. And I noticed that our every
Ready to tee offReady to tee offReady to tee off

The 3-some at Pebble Beach Golf Links
movement was being watched by seagulls. They were all around us … on top of the roof or on the railings or on the top of the umbrella. If you get up from your chair or if you are not paying attention to your food on the table, it’s gone. It was cute in the beginning, but rather annoying later on as those seagulls continued to squawk “mine mine mine”.

Dinner was at da Giovanni in Carmel. Again, Martin was our local tour guide and made the reservation already. Brent ordered two bottles of Silver Oak for our first dinner together - great choice! The wine made our dinner conversations more interesting. We talked about everything and we laughed at everything. Great friends, good food, good wine … can’t ask for anything more!

The next morning, we all had a late breakfast at The Terrace again. The most peculiar sight was the continuous flow of Asian tourists who came by the busloads, happy to be on the grounds of Pebble Beach, took pictures, checked out the golfers on the 18th green, took pictures, checked out the sea otters, took a group picture and proceeded to the gift shop.
View of Number 6View of Number 6View of Number 6

The lone cypress on hole number 6 at Pebble Beach Golf Links
Also, I was reminded again of the presence of those seagulls - “mine mine mine”.

Following breakfast, the guys got ready for our 2:10pm tee time at Pebble Beach Golf Links while the girls decided to go to Carmel and Monterey Aquarium. Brent, Martin and I went to the driving range to warm up. To my surprise, I saw 4-5 deers hanging out in the middle of the driving range. Golfers were hitting their balls all around them and they didn’t seem to care. So here I was with a bucket of golf balls! I used my driver, hybrids and irons to see if I could hit any one of them. Well, I was never known for my accuracy and one bucket of balls was certainly not enough for my target practice. Out of balls, I went to the chipping and putting green.

For those who are not familiar with Pebble Beach, Wikipedia wrote “Pebble Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It hugs the rugged coastline and has wide open views of the ocean. In 2001 it became the first public course (i.e. open to the general public for play)
View of 6th fairwayView of 6th fairwayView of 6th fairway

These seagulls continue to follow us.
to be selected as the No.1 Golf Course in America by Golf Digest.” In short, Pebble Beach is a tourist destination.

Martin warned Brent and I already that the first hole would probably be the most intimidating. Just picture lots of spectators with their cameras watching you tee off! So once we paid our green fees, met our two caddies - Gene and Elmar - and walked up to the number 1 tee box, I started to panic. The starter was telling us the rules at Pebble Beach. I wasn’t listening (I figure Gene and/or Elmar would tell me if I was doing something wrong). I was just looking at the crowd around the tee box. The next four-some were already waiting; tourists were watching us; other caddies were getting ready and seagulls were scoping our bags.

Fortunately, I managed to hit a decent drive that slightly faded to the right. But at least, I was safe. Unfortunately, somebody in my group (no name!) had to take a mulligan after topping his first ball way to the left. Did anyone take a picture of that? It didn’t matter - we were at Pebble Beach and we started walking.
Par 3 Hole 7Par 3 Hole 7Par 3 Hole 7

Big drop and Pacific Ocean awaits any long balls
Yes, as much as I am a fan of riding on a cart while playing golf, this is Pebble Beach and it is OK to walk. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon in central California.

I was glad that we decided to get our caddies. These guys are certainly knowledgable about the course. But there is a big bonus - they were such entertainers. They kept us laughing with their golf jokes. And they would tell us the owners or histories of some of the mansions all around us. Before long, we were at hole number 4 and walking along the coastline - past The Beach Club. I don’t like water whenever I am playing golf. In fact, I hate the sight of water. My balls are magnetically attracted to water! This is when the game becomes challenging for me.

When we reached the Par 3 hole number 5, we got a good view of the next hole - with the lone cypress tree. I had seen this many times on TV - hard to believe that I was actually here. We continued to have our escorts with us - seagulls saying “mine mine mine” and searching
Number 8 Tee BoxNumber 8 Tee BoxNumber 8 Tee Box

Brent with the lone cypress behind him
for any unattended food. Brent and Martin bought sandwiches that were wrapped in plastic containers. I wasn’t hungry yet from our big breakfast. When we reached number 5 green, Brent put his remaining half sandwich inside the plastic container and carefully placed it in the compartment of Gene’s cart (our caddy Gene was driving a cart). As we walked toward the green, we heard the typical “mine mine mine” and as we turned our heads back towards the cart, we saw one seagull flying off with Brent’s plastic container. Yes, this was the container with half a sandwich in it … not exactly a light plastic container. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Elmar raising the putter he was carrying and started running after the bird. Elmar started swinging the putter, chasing and yelling at the bird. Precious memory and I did not have a video camera with me! The seagull didn’t seem to be able to fly up that high yet and decided to drop the plastic container at the edge of the green instead of being a victim of Elmar’s putter. We were all laughing so hard as Elmar proudly picked up the plastic container and
View back from 8th greenView back from 8th greenView back from 8th green

Can't see the cliff from the opposite side
handed it back to Brent.

We didn’t tee off on number 6 right away as Brent decided to finish his sandwich first. That gave all of us time to appreciate the beauty of Pebble Beach. I could still visualize Tiger Woods going after the green on his second shot on this long par 5. I was actually pleased that I had not lost a ball yet. Gene continued to entertain us with his golf stories. He is ranked number 11 out of 300+ caddies at Pebble Beach which demonstrate his tenure.

When we reached the 7th tee box, I was looking straight at my nemesis - water. Here is a short par 3 with water all around it. Gene and Elmar were both warning us “don’t hit it long”. Martin had honors and immediately found disaster - his ball hit the far left edge of the green and rolled into the ocean. I used my sand wedge and left it short of the green. Safe!

Hole number 8 was a very long par 4. Gene warned me that I better hit a very good second shot if I wanted to find my ball. But from my perspective,
18th Tee Box18th Tee Box18th Tee Box

Getting ready for our final hole!
I couldn’t see any trouble ahead. Elmar told me to hit it to the left to lay up. So I aimed left but I hit a big slice and the ball faded back to the right. Gone! I let Brent and Martin hit their balls and they were safe. I kept walking forward and then saw what the trouble was. I was standing at the edge of a big cliff … there was a U-shape inlet and Elmar was trying to get me away from the ocean. I took a drop at the edge of the cliff and actually made it to the green on the opposite side of the cliff. I finally lost my first ball at Pebble Beach - my donation to the ocean.

We had such a fun time that we didn’t realize we had been playing for more than 5 hours by the time we reached the 18th tee box. The sun was starting to come down and The Lodge was straight in front of us. Martin called his wife and found out that the girls were all waiting for us at one of the bars overlooking the 18th green. By the time we sank
Go Martin!Go Martin!Go Martin!

Martin's putt on 18th with a little body english
our last putts, the girls were all cheering for us. It might not be The US Open or The PGA Championship - but it was our own golf championship as our loved ones greeted us at the end of our round.

We didn’t have much time to waste. We took a quick shower and shortly, we were on the shuttle from The Lodge to Inn at Spanish Bay for our dinner reservation at Roy’s. It was a very busy night and I was glad that Martin made a reservation. I ordered butterfish - a signature dish at Roy’s - and it was fantastic. I always have a good experience at Roy’s. Ahhh, great friends, good food and good golf - life is great.

The boys had an early start the next morning. We had a 7:40 tee time at Spyglass Hill Golf Course - a short 10 minute shuttle ride from The Lodge. Spyglass Hill, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., takes its name from Robert Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, published in 1863. Each hole is named after characters in the novel. Unlike Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill wandered into the forest and pine trees - instead
Our own Pebble Beach championshipOur own Pebble Beach championshipOur own Pebble Beach championship

Finally finished our round ...
of water - become the hazards.

We picked up some cookies (good breakfast food) before teeing off. We had two caddies again - Gene from the day before and Al. We were finally getting the normal July central coast weather … cool morning with light rain. The best part was the fact that each caddy was driving a cart. The green fee was 1/3 lower at Spyglass and we got an additional cart. I walked Pebble Beach already and I was not planning on walking the entire Spyglass. There was another bonus … there was nobody else around the first tee box. Our caddy Al was the only photographer - taking a picture of us.

It was not long before Gene became his usual self. Brent just finished his second shot and Gene asked Brent how his first cookie was. Brent had this puzzled look - he barely took a few bites out of the cookie and he left it in the cart. Apparently, a bird saw it and flew away with it while Brent was hitting his shot. This time, Elmar was not around to chase the bird and to retrieve the cookie back. We were all
Spyglass Hill Golf CourseSpyglass Hill Golf CourseSpyglass Hill Golf Course

Wet tee off at Spyglass
shocked since we did not see any seagulls around. Gene then pointed toward the trees where we saw a number of black birds watching us. We had not been paying attention to those birds. Brent was the victim again two days in a row. Fortunately for me, my cookie was inside my pocket.

Spyglass Hill was actually a tougher course than Pebble Beach. The fairways were narrow and the trees + thick grass were very unforgiving. I don’t have a long game and I had a hard time reaching the green on the par 4’s. The cool morning air was very pleasant though and we were playing faster than the day before. A little past noon, we were done (I only lost 2 balls) and we headed right back to The Lodge to meet the girls for lunch at The Tap Room. I ordered a bowl of chili - one of my favorites!

Just like that, our time together at Pebble Beach came to an end. Lauren and I were staying another night but the others had an afternoon flight back to Texas. We were glad that we did not have to rush back home. I reserved a
mine mine minemine mine minemine mine mine

With Bird Rock in the background
Lexus convertible the day before with the concierge … one of the benefits of staying at The Lodge. So after taking a quick shower, Lauren and I drove the famous 17 Mile Drive. We picked up a map from the front desk that highlighted all the tourist attractions in the area. So we went all the way to Inn at Spanish Bay first and then slowly made our way back, stopping for a short time at Bird Rock - home of sea lions, seals and other shoreline birds; Cypress Point Lookout with the view of the Pacific coastline and Pescadero Point where the Ghost Tree was located. After being in Hawaii the week before, we were not stopping at any of the beaches.

Once we returned to The Lodge, we took time to shop for some souvenirs to take home. Of course, I also had to get my own Pebble Beach polo shirt. Then we headed back to Inn at Spanish Bay on the shuttle for our early dinner. I was hoping to catch the sunset but it was still windy and cloudy outside. So we decided to have cocktail at Traps before our dinner at Peppoli. Peppoli was
Ghost TreeGhost TreeGhost Tree

Along 17 Mile Drive
named after a wine estate of vintner Piero Antinori and serves authentic Italian food. I ordered Osso Buco all’ Antinori from Antinori’s family recipe - fantastic and very highly recommended. It was a great meal to celebrate the conclusion of our wonderful weekend. Lauren and I are looking forward to our next adventure.


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