Locals tell me it's almost impossible to get a tee time unless you're staying at the golf resort. If you're one of the lucky few, you can choose from several famous courses along 17-Mile Drive.
Pebble Beach Golf Links -- The most famous course is Pebble Beach Golf Links (tel. 800/654-9300 or 831/622-8723; www.pebblebeach.com), at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. It's home each year to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a celebrity-laden tournament televised worldwide. Jack Nicklaus has said, "If I could play only one course for the rest of my life, this would be it." He should know: He won the 1961 U.S. Amateur and the 1972 U.S. Open here. Indeed, 10 national championships have been decided here. Herbert Warren Wind, dean of 20th-century golf writers, said, "There is no finer seaside golf course in creation" -- and that includes the Old Course at St. Andrews. Built in 1919, this 18-hole course is 6,799 yards and par 72. It's precariously perched over a rugged ocean. Greens fees are a staggering $495, and that doesn't include the cart fee for nonguests.
Spyglass Hill Golf Course -- Also frequented by celebrities is this course at Stevenson Drive and Spyglass Hill Road (tel. 800/654-9300 or 831/625-8563; www.pebblebeach.com). Its slope rating of 147 means it's one of the state's toughest courses. It's justifiably famous, at 6,859 yards and par 72 with five oceanfront holes. The rest reach deep into the Del Monte Forest. Greens fees are $340 plus cart. Reservations for nonguests should be made a month in advance. The excellent Grill Room restaurant is on the grounds.
Poppy Hills -- This 18-hole, 6,219-yard course on 17-Mile Drive (tel. 831/622-8239; www.poppyhillsgolf.com) was named one of the world's top 20 by Golf Digest. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., in 1986. One golf pro said the course is "long and tough on short hitters." Fees are $200, plus $36 for the cart rental. You can make reservations 30 days in advance.
The Links at Spanish Bay -- On the north end of 17-Mile Drive at the Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resorts (tel. 800/654-9300 or 831/647-7495; www.pebblebeach.com), this is the most easily booked course. Serious golfers say it's the most challenging of the Pebble Beach links. Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Tom Watson, and Frank Tatum (former USGA president) designed it to duplicate a Scottish links course. Its fescue grasses and natural fairways lead to rolls and unexpected bounces. Greens fees are $260 plus a cart fee. Reservations accepted 60 days in advance.
Del Monte Golf Course -- At 1300 Sylvan Rd. (tel. 831/373-2700; www.pebblebeach.com) lies the oldest course west of the Mississippi, charging some of the most "reasonable" greens fees: $110 per player, plus a cart rental of $20. The course, often cited in magazines for its "grace and charm," is relatively short -- only 6,339 yards. This seldom-advertised course, at the Hyatt east of Monterey, is part of the Pebble Beach complex but is not along 17-Mile Drive.