By James A. Frank
In 2019, Pebble Beach Golf Links will celebrate its 100th birthday and host its sixth U.S. Open. To commemorate these milestones, each issue of LINKS Magazine and LINKSdigital between now and then will tell the unique story that is Pebble Beach. This is the fifth article in the series, but here are the first, second, third, and fourth.
Along with its luxurious hotels and iconic golf courses, the Pebble Beach Company stewards another property, one of America’s most magnificent landmarks, 17-Mile Drive, that loops through the community that is Pebble Beach.
The drive began as a scenic tour for guests of the Hotel Del Monte, one of the first hotels on the Monterey Peninsula, which opened in 1880 as a means of enticing the well-to-do from nearby San Francisco and elsewhere to buy property in the area. Then as now, the drive—first covered in horse-drawn carriages, later by automobiles—showcased some of the most beautiful views in the country; Travel & Leisure named it one of the most scenic drives in America.
For visitors wishing to cover all or part of the circuit, there are five entrances from Pacific Grove at the north end, through Monterey, and down to Carmel. Once on the drive, cars that follow the dotted red line painted on the road are guided to the most recognizable stops and vantage points throughout Pebble Beach. Maps are available at the entrances to the drive, on the new Pebble Beach App, and at PebbleBeach.com.
Along 17-Mile Drive sit four of the resort’s golf courses—Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and the par-3 Peter Hay Golf Course. Also at Peter Hay is a 30,000-pound bronze sculpture dedicated to the 100th U.S. Open Championship, which was played at Pebble Beach in 2000; America’s National Championship will be contested again at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2019.
Golfers and everyone else will be entranced by the natural wonders that come into view around every turn on the drive. There are wide-angle vistas of Monterey Bay, white-sand beaches, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Del Monte Forest. Near Point Joe, almost at the most northern edge of the drive, is “The Restless Sea,” where the frothing Pacific is churned up by the underwater terrain. There are also spots, such as Fanshell Overlook, where visitors might spot harbor seals, who return each spring to give birth.
And, of course, there is the iconic Lone Cypress, the famous logo of Pebble Beach Resorts, which has weathered all that nature could throw at it for 250 years. All along the drive are majestic stands of native cypress and pine trees, including Crocker Grove, a 13-acre preserve named for Charles Crocker, a 19th-century railroad baron who helped create 17-Mile Drive.
How long will it take to cover all 17 miles? That’s up to you, your camera, and your sense of wonder.
Admission to the drive is $10.25 per vehicle (cash only; motorcycles prohibited), a fee that will be reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at any Pebble Beach Resorts restaurant (excluding Pebble Beach Market). Admission is complimentary for overnight guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, and Casa Palmero.