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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Can you hear them?

What a day! WOW! It is hard to describe in words how special it was! One of those memorable days we will cherish for a lifetime!

Richard was picked up yesterday at 8:20am by Enterprise-rent-a-car and driven down Hwy 1 South to Seaside, California to Enterprise’s location, which is about 7 minutes away from our RV park. We love the fact that Enterprise offers the pick up and drop off service for car rental.

And now we have George the ’Gladiator’ Jeep to add to the cars we’ve owned or rented! We really have had our own Seinfeld episode with ‘Newman’ the RV, ‘Jerry’ the tow car, ‘Kramer’ the Kona, ‘Elaine’ the Elantra and now ‘George’ the ‘Gladiator’ Jeep! When Richard went to Enterprise they were trying to give him a Chevy Spark! There was no way we would have got all of our golf gear into a Spark! Besides who on Seinfeld had a name that started with an ‘S’ other than the Soup Nazi I guess?!!

Chevy Spark! No thanks! Not a good rental for us on a golf day!

We loaded up George the Gladiator and realized that unless we were using the truck bed, this model of Jeep was not very practical either. We ended up shoving our golf bags and clubs, golf shoes, and our change of clothes, and dressy shoes into the back seat of George, and we set off for a drive down Hwy 1.

It was very foggy when we got on Hwy 1 to head south to Pebble Beach. The temperature was around 11C though, so it was pleasant enough for our day outside.

I got very excited when I saw this sign!

Yes! Here we come!

If you’ve never been to Pebble Beach before one of the first things you need to do is pay the $10.75 at the gatehouse entrance to Pebble Beach, and then drive ‘17-Mile Drive’. If you spend $35 or more at Pebble Beach, you are refunded the $10.75. We knew we were going to be refunded for our entrance fee, based on what we were going to spend today at Pebble Beach.

17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. Most of 17-Mile Drive hugs the Pacific coastline and passes the famous golf courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links, Cypress Point Club, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Poppy Hills Golf Course and the course we were playing called: The Links at Spanish Bay. 17-Mile Drive was laid out by the Pacific Improvement Company, (which was a consortium of The Big Four railroad barons: Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collins Huntington and Leland Stanford), in 1892, the area became a tourist destination, so the Pacific Improvement Company, also built a hotel, called ’Hotel Del Monte’. The 17–Mile Drive was offered as a pleasure excursion in horse and buggies, to hotel guests, and was intended to attract wealthy buyers of large and scenic residential plots on the land owned by the Pacific Improvement Company.

As we entered 17-Mile Drive, the trees are leaning over the road and the fog and dense mist was very heavy!

Beautiful rugged coastline along 17-Mile Drive.

A scenic par 3 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, which is a private club, not owned by the Pebble Beach Corporation, but is located on 17-Mile Drive.

I wanted to make sure that we got to ‘The Lone Cypress’ before we played golf, as we knew that it would be dark afterwards and we wouldn’t have time for any outdoor landscape photography.

The Lone Cypress on 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, California.

The Lone Cypress is a Monterey cypress standing atop a granite headland overlooking Carmel Bay. The tree has become a Western icon and has been called one of the most photographed trees in North America. The tree is believed to have been seeded circa 1750 in what was then the Spanish colony of New Spain. Over the centuries, the tree has been weathered by the wind and salt spray coming off the Pacific Ocean, gradually altering its appearance. In 1941 a stone retaining wall (left side of the photo), was constructed around the base of the tree to protect its roots from erosion. In 1948 a series of cables were installed to help support the tree. In 1969, the tree was fenced off to the public in order to protect its roots from being damaged from trampling. In Feb 2019, the tree lost one of its limbs during a ’Pineapple Express”. (You should know what these are by now if you’ve been following this blog!). It is hoped that the tree will survive into the 22nd century, but the longest-living Monterey cypress lived to only 284 years old.

Notice the ‘before’ picture that I found online (above). You can see where the limb fell off The Lone Cypress (in the first photo). It was nice to see The Lone Cypress again. The last time we were in Pebble Beach I only had a cell phone camera, so it was nice to be able to get some good shots with my Fuji XT-4 yesterday! The Lone Cypress is the logo for The Pebble Beach Golf Links.

We looked at the time and quickly realized we were about a 14 minute drive from The Lone Cypress to The Links at Spanish Bay, where we were playing and since it was 11am, we needed to hustle to the course.

After paying for our green fees and caddie and having a quick browse around the pro shop at Sparish Bay, it was almost time for our tee time which was at 11:50am. I was hoping that we would have enough time to get our round in, with a tee time so close to noon, since it gets dark very early now since the clocks changed.

We were quite bundled up with layers. I bought the vest at Spanish Bay, and I’m glad I did as I didn’t take it off all day! Wool sweaters were the order of the day! Richard had his Lone Palm wool sweater on and I had a wool Ballycastle Golf Club sweater from Ireland.

Many people prefer to play Pebble Beach Golf Links, but there are also many who enjoy The Links at Spanish Bay, because all of the holes except for holes 9-12, have views of the Ocean.

We met our playing partners for the day on the first tee. We were playing with Dr. John from Bend, Oregon who is the Chief Medical Officer of Health for 8 hospitals in the area, and Ray a guy who was having a practise round for an upcoming tournament.

First hole, the hole’s name is - ‘To the Sea’- at The Links at Spanish Bay. A 454 yard (white tees) 429 yard (red tees) par 5.

My tee shot on this long par 5 found a left fairway bunker, which was quite annoying since I’m not usually left off the tee! Anyway, I was able to get a hybrid on the ball out fo the bunker and hit a great shot onto the fairway. My 3rd shot missed the green by about 40 yards, and my caddie Stevie said make sure you get it up there, the green is very elevated! I took my gap wedge and here is the result.

I almost chipped in for a birdie on the first hole! It sure was nice to start the round well at Spanish Bay!

It was a ‘gimme’. Richard did not make me putt it out!

I’m quite happy I started with a par on the first hole - the #5 handicap hole for women.

Richard waiting to tee of. The scenery was very distracting for Richard on the front nine, but he made up for it on the back nine.

We saw quite a few deer on the golf course and the birds were crazy savages! If we left any food in the golf carts, the birds went after it! Doc brought his empty sandwich container onto one of the greens and the birds were all fighting over it and trying to get it open.

4th hole - a par 3 - ‘Shepherd’s Haven’

We enjoyed the front nine of Spanish Bay, but the clouds were threatening and just as we made the turn for the back nine, the rain started to fall! What is with us and rain on this trip? Apparently they haven’t seen rain in months in Pebble Beach, but of course today when we’re golfing it started to rain! At least there was no wind though, because we heard that the back nine can be very tricky from holes 13-18 with wind! And after 3 or 4 holes of rain, the sun came out for the last few holes. A very strange weather day for golf!

Hole # 12 - ‘Cathedral’ - a very difficult par 4. We had to lay up and then go for the green. I’m not sure who could make par on this hole, but none of us did. At least I didn’t lose a ball here, or all day for that matter!

Hole # 13 - ‘Wee Precipice’ -a short par 3 - 91 yards from the green tees, and 72 yards from the red tees.

Hole # 14 -‘Wind & Willow’ a long par 5. I was the long drive champ on this hole! I am holding up my hands to say ‘gorilla’!

Hole #15 - ‘Missing Link’ an interesting par 4 leading back out to the Ocean.

The sun was setting pretty quickly on the back nine. The pace of play was a bit slow and I was worried we would not get the entire round in, before darkness.

What a stunning sunset on hole #17 -‘Whale Watch’.

Richard on #17. Not a great lie to try and hit his second shot. You can see we are losing our daylight pretty quickly.

And just as we were about to tee off on #18 I said to Richard “What’s that noise? Can you hear them? I think that’s the bagpiper playing at sundown at Spanish Bay!”

Our caddie, Stevie, quickly took me over to get a photo of the bagpiper lady playing in front of Spanish Bay and walking towards to the Ocean.

The bagpiper has played along the Pebble Beach coastline every day, rain or sine, since The Inn and Links at Spanish Bay opening in 1987. This tradition began after a quip by The Links at Spanish Bay co-designer, Tom Watson. When building the Scottish-style course - the first of its kind in America - Tom Watson (a five time British Open champion) reflected one day after surveying the transformed dunes cape “Spanish Bay is so much like Scotland, you can almost hear the bagpipes”. By the time Spanish Bay opened in 1987 you could hear the pipes. The daily bagpiper performance beings on the first tee at The Links at Spanish Bay in front of STICKS restaurant and finishes 45 minutes later at the Spanish Bay fire pits by the second green. We were so lucky to be able to finish our round listening to the nightly bagpipe performance. It was the ‘icing on the cake’ for our round of golf at Spanish Bay! I also took a video of the piper, which I will post on Facebook.

I was pretty pleased with my score at Spanish Bay. My goal was to break 90 and I shot 89 with a 42 front nine. I think I fell apart a bit on the back nine because I was so hungry. I finally found a bar in Richard’s bag to eat after I’d made a mess of 10, 11, 12 & 13. GRRR!!!! The next time we golf, we’re either bringing our own sandwiches or getting them to go before we play!

Wow! What a day! And the day wasn’t over yet! The caddies had told us about ‘The Pebble Beach Outlet Store’ at Cannery Row, and since we were worried that by the time we got over to Pebble Beach for our dinner at ‘The Bench’, the pro shop would be closed, we decided to make the drive over to Monterey to shop at ’The Pebble Beach Store’ to pick up a few more souvenirs of our day.

I’m still wearing my golf shoes out shopping!

We headed back to Pebble Beach after visiting Cannery Row, and I ended up getting changed in the car for dinner!

Pebble Beach is definitely beautifully decorated for the holiday season!

As we walked down the steps from where we self parked ‘George’, the Gladiator Jeep, we saw the Pebble Beach Champions wall. Wow! This wall was so impressive to see all lit up at night! What a tribute to all of the winners at Pebble Beach Golf Links over the years!

Pebble Beach Champions wall.

Each of the Major Champions at Pebble Beach Golf Links is honoured with a bio and and a story. They even have room for the next champions who will play in: 2023 for the U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 for the Men’s US Open.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am will be played at Pebble Beach Monday January 31st, 2022-February 6, 2022.

We really didn’t have any lunch today, since the beverage cart only had tuna sandwiches left by the time we saw the cart and neither one of us are fans of tuna sandwiches. We survived by eating granola bars on the course, but now that it was almost 6:30pm, we were starving! It was time to find ‘The Bench’ restaurant at ‘The Lodge’ at Pebble Beach!

What an impressive display of Christmas lights in front of The Lodge.

Heading into ‘The Lodge’ for dinner.

The Bench restaurant is downstairs in The Lodge at Pebble Beach.

We were seated at a beautiful window seat at The Bench, and as soon as I looked outside what did I see?

The iconic 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, called ‘The Bench’ which is why the restaurant is also called ‘The Bench’. To symbolize the return of Pebble Beach to American ownership in 1999, a commemorative bench has been placed overlooking the 18th hole where this acquisition was consummated. The bench honours the vision of its owners to preserve the national treasure for future generations.

To celebrate our round at Spanish Bay, I had to start off with a glass of Prosecco!

We both ate way too much at The Bench, but we really enjoyed our meals!

Crispy Falafel “Panzanella” salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, lemon vinaigrette.

Soup of the day - Butternut squash soup with ginger and coconut milk.

Tortiglione BOLOGNESE. Hearty veal & pork sauce, pecorino cheese.

Berkshire Bone-in Pork Chop with vermicelli noodles, Vietnamese sauce, mint, cilantro and toasted peanuts.

Carrot cake, with carrot ice cream and a warm whipped cream cheese.

Sales Caramel Budino. Creme Fraiche and Malden sea salt with butter cookies.

Oh my goodness! We shouldn’t have looked at the dessert menu. As my mother would say when we ate too much as kids “Our eyes were bigger than our belly!”

We wished we had a longer walk to walk off dinner! The shops at Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach Outfitters store for the ‘younger’ crowd!

Pebble Beach has an entire store dedicated to Women’s golf clothing!

The hardest part of our drive home was navigating the very dark, twisty roads on 17 Mile Drive! What a dangerous place to drive at night after dark! We were happy to get back to Newman after such a long day at The Links at Spanish Bay. We thought it was very fitting that the bagpiper would play on our last hole of the day, as the sun was setting and it was getting more difficult to see our ball in play. What a wonderful memory we have and we’re not sure if it will be the highlight of this epic journey, or just one of the highlights we will have as we make our way to our home in Florida, but we do know that we checked one more iconic golf course of our bucket list!

I had wanted to write today’s blog as well as yesterday’s blog, but its getting late and I’m pretty tired. I think tomorrow I will write two days of blogs in one. You won’t want to miss tomorrow’s blog because today’s scenery was probably the most breathtaking coastline we have both ever driven. Amazing! Plus we are visiting our friends from last winter in Fanny Bay! Jim and Dani from Fernie, B.C.! It’s so nice to know friends along the way, to make us feel at home in a strange place…but more about that tomorrow!

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