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Hotelling's New Book Documents Pebble Beach
Golf Links History

By David R. Holland,
Senior Regional Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - Neal Hotelling's first panoramic view of Carmel Beach, with Pebble Beach Golf Links to his right, was of a surfing competition.

"I saw this white-sand beach, bikinis and bongos," Hotelling said. "I said good-bye to snow of Michigan."

It was 1985 and for a boy from Grand Rapids, Michigan, he must have been in heaven. He had already married a California girl and three months later he was living here.

Almost 15 years later, Hotelling is now an author. His new book, a combination history and coffee-table pictorial, is entitled: "Pebble Beach Golf Links". It is "The Official History" because the Pebble Beach Company sanctioned it. Joann Dost provided the recent photos.

Hotelling, who is the Pebble Beach Company's historian, has worked for the company since 1991 when he served a five-year stint as Golf Operation Manager. He was then promoted to Director of Corporate Affairs.

"I've always been fascinated by history and when I arrived here I didn't know anything about California history," he said.

Neal Hotelling
Neal Hotelling
Hotelling started digging into Pebble Beach's history. He would ask fellow employees who was Pebble Beach's first golf pro? Sometimes the employee had no clue. Other times they would answer Peter Hay ... nope it was Harold Sampson, who was American's first born-and-bred golf professional. In the early days of American golf most pros were from Scotland.

When the media came to town for the 1992 U.S. Open, Hotelling discovered that the media was interested in the Links' history and no one knew the answers to their questions. And those who had a common knowledge of the history were often mistaken.

By 1994 Hotelling was convinced there was enough new information for a good history of Pebble Beach.

So here it is -- 224 pages of golf history on the Monterey Peninsula with lots of historical photos and contemporary pictures.

Here's some book highlights:

From day one The Pebble Beach Company was formed as a money-maker -- if was real estate driven. Creating what Jack Nicklaus calls the greatest golf course in the world was just a grand result. And it didn't always cost $300 to play this course. In the beginning a single golf ball cost more than a round of golf.

Actually, the first golf course in the Monterey area was the Del Monte Golf Course. Pebble Beach was the vision of Samuel Morse, who arrived in 1915 as the manager of the Del Monte properties, which included the Hotel Del Monte, now the administration building of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. (See story on Del Monte Golf Course:

Morse came up with a residential lot plan for Pebble Beach and started selling lots. Can you imagine tract housing where Tom Watson chipped in on No. 17 in the 1982 U.S. Open? Not long after, Morse's vision changed. He wanted a golf course on that southern shoreline where the lots were being sold. So he started buying the lots back and got Jack Neville and Douglas Grant to start designing what would become Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Here it is: 224 pages of golf history on the Monterey Peninsula with lots of historical photos and contemporary pictures.

One of the first lots sold was a 5.5-acre parcel on a bluff overlooking Stillwater Cove. The owner, William Beatty, wouldn't sell this lot back to Morse and hole No. 5, the blind par-3 through a chute of trees had to be built off the shoreline. In 1943, during post-depression hard times, Beatty's widow sold the property for $43,000 to Matthew and Mimi Jenkins. Matt died in 1982 and Mimi in 1995. Their heirs, facing formidable tax bills, had to sell the property.

Eighty years later, in the 1999 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the original thoughts for the hole finally came true. The new No. 5 was open for play.

The Pebble Beach Company had at last bought back the property ($8 million just for the land) and Jack Nicklaus designed the hole. The old hole location was split into three lots and sold for home sites to Charles Schwab, the investment broker, and West Coast auto dealer Don Lucas. The third parcel was the shoreline property for the fifth hole.

Today, the old fifth hole is no more. A construction fence surrounds the property where Schwab's new house is being built.


Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach

More Pebble Beach: Spyglass Hill Golf Course

Past course reviews

Pebble Beach Golf Links officially opened on February 22, 1919 and early reviews were not exactly glowing. People complained of sheep hoof prints on the greens (the sheep were the club's first greenskeepers). The 18th hole was deemed uninspiring and a "woefully poor finishing hole."

In the beginning the 18th was a par-4, 325-hole with the coastline to the left as it is today. Arthur Vincent, a rich amateur, offered a solution. He wanted to fill in the rocks just behind the 17th green, building a new tee box that would add 35 yards to the hole and create a tee shot that gave the golfer the option to cut over the curving cove shore-line. Now the hole was 360 yards but there was more room to improve it.

In 1920 British golf architect William Fowler was hired to remodel the old Del Monte Course. Eventually, in 1921, Fowler moved the 18th green 170 yards up the coast to its current position, and created a par-5, 525 yards long. This made the California Golf Association happy and the State Amateur was scheduled for Pebble Beach in 1922.

The book chronicles The Beginning, The Formative Years, Crosby and Beyond, and The Modern Era. Bet that golf historian Ben Crenshaw reads it in one sitting.

It sells for $45, but discounted copies are available through or by phone at 1-800-487-2323. In addition, the book can be found on the Web sites of and Barnes and Noble.

Chip Shots

Can you believe there have been some people whose first round of golf was at Pebble Beach? Talk about five-hour rounds. One caddy said: "We should require a golfer to qualify for a 'range card' before allowing them on any golf course."

Newest question: Who is the current head golf professional at Pebble Beach? This one is only week's old so it's not in the book. He is Chuck Dunbar, who came over from Del Monte Golf Course. Dunbar, 35, wasn't even a golfer until 1990. Nine years later he is the golf professional at the mecca of golf -- Pebble Beach Golf Links.