Is Pebble Beach Worth the Money?

Is Pebble Beach Worth It?

This past November, I got to check an enormous name off my bucket list when I played Pebble Beach Golf Links.  When I got home, the first question I got from 99% of golfers was, “Was it worth it?”  This is my long answer.

What Does Pebble Beach Golf Links Cost?

Let’s start with a breakdown of the actual cost to play golf at Pebble Beach.  First, there’s the green fee, which is $575.  The cart fee – $45 – is comped if you’re a resort guest.  Taking a caddie is $145 plus gratuity for a single bag, $190 for a double bag.

The bigger cost is a bit hidden.  To book a round at Pebble Beach Golf Links more than 24 hours in advance, you need to be a resort guest.  If you live in the area, this isn’t an issue – you can call the pro shop in the morning and take advantage of any cancellations.  However, most of us aren’t going to roll the dice like that if we’re traveling from out of state.  The least expensive rooms are at The Inn at Spanish Bay.  Through March 31, 2022, they go for $870 per night.  That will go up to $895 on April 1.  To stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the prices are $990 and $1,025, respectively.

Finally, since most of us don’t live in northern California, you need to consider travel.  Since this cost is highly variable depending on where you live, I’ll leave this for you to calculate for yourself.

This brings the minimum cost of a round at Pebble Beach to $1,445 plus travel.

Note: All prices are accurate as of publication.  Check the Pebble Beach website HERE for the most up-to-date pricing.

The Hotel Experience

Let’s talk about what you get for your money, starting with the hotel.  I stayed at The Inn at Spanish Bay, so I will speak to that specifically, though I expect The Lodge at Pebble Beach and Casa Palmero are comparable, if not better.

The smallest rooms at Spanish Bay are a sizable 470 square feet, which gives you plenty of space to spread out.  Every room has a fireplace and an “honor bar” stocked with a mix of complimentary and paid items that are refilled daily.  They also have all the hotel room essentials you’d expect: coffee maker, safe, Wi-Fi, LCD TV.

My biggest takeaway about The Inn at Spanish Bay is that it’s everything you expect from a hotel but nicer.  Every hotel room has a bed, but this bed has a better mattress and softer sheets.  Every hotel room has a TV, but this one has a better picture and more channels.  This extends to the service which is ever present but not smothering, friendly and helpful without being over the top.

Thrifty traveler suggestion: having an ocean view room is great, but it adds to the cost.  If you want to save a bit, book a standard room and watch the sunset and/or sunrise from one of the numerous seating areas on the west side of the hotel.  Windows cover nearly the entire side of the building, so there are always available spots.

The Golf

The star of the show, of course, is the round at Pebble Beach Golf Links.  I have a full review of the course HERE, but the short version is that it’s a tremendous experience.  The scenery is unsurpassed, the golf is fun and challenging, and you’re quite literally walking in the footsteps of all the game’s greats.  It’s the definition of a bucket list experience.

Also, there are nice “extras” adjacent to the round.  As a resort guest/golfer, you have access to the Pebble Beach Golf Academy.  This is a world-class training facility up the road from the course.  A shuttle runs back and forth all day to get warmed-up golfers to the first tee.  When you come off the 18th green, you’re shuttled back to the pro shop and given your souvenir bag tag.  You’re welcome to scoff about a “free” bag tag with such an expensive round, but this is an item most golfers are going to display prominently and look at fondly for a long time.

Is Pebble Beach Worth the Cost?

You already knew the answer for yourself before you clicked this article.  Most golfers that I know want to play Pebble Beach at some point in their life, and what I’ve written here has only whet their appetite.  However, there are people who, for various reasons, have no interest in a round of golf this expensive.  I doubt I’ve done anything to convince them otherwise.

For those that want something more definitive, my answer is yes.  I’m very happy with my choice to have played Pebble Beach, even at the substantial cost.  It’s an experience I’ll never forget

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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23 Comments

  1. Larry Moore

    I scratched that bucket list item one year before. The pandemic madness gave 12 of us
    the experience you described at 1/4 the price.
    Stayed at the Inn, played Spanish Bay, Pebble, and Spyglass.
    It was worth 4 times what we paid. But we were all a little irked at the $9 beer

  2. We played during COVID as well and were able to save considerably. The golf was top notch, of course. You will remember every shot on every hole. The service left a good amount to be desired. I won’t bore readers with specifics. Just level set your expectations. They know there is a day packed full of bucket-listers just like you and me who will come whether or not the service is good or friendly. And we had to hit off mats to top it off. Enough said. To Matt’s question, is it worth the cost? Yes. Once. After that there are other courses to check off the list, IMHO.

  3. Richard S

    Played Pebble and Spanish Bay, stayed at the Lodge, in 1996. The room and the view were spectacular as was the service. Playing those courses were fantastic but the costs then were less than a third of today’s prices. A great experience. I was in Carmel this summer and would have played it again but for the costs. I’m sure they have a LONG line of people wanting to play so they won’t miss me.

  4. Thanks, but unless a client pays or I hit the jackpot, I will take Spyglass or Spanish Bay. I will go up the road to play Pasatiempo. I will play the back nine twice at Pacific Grove. I’ll probably make it sometime in the near future to play PB but I will play Bandon first.

  5. Wow, those are amazing numbers…. I guess I would have to “pass”.
    That said, there is a whole host of “fabulous” golf courses in this country that you can play for under $75. Myrtle Beach has a slew of them, as does Pinehurst — and Georgia has tons of them… there is potpourri of great courses all over Florida, add the mountain courses in the Carolinas and you’ve found Nirvana — Oh, and let’s not forget Virginia….. add a nice room for under $125 and you can play all week for under $1,000….

    —– You never have to pass the mighty Mississippi.

  6. Dan Shepherd

    I’ve never played there, but you’re right – your review further stoked my appetite for it. Cheers, Matt!

  7. Nigel Smith

    How long was the round?

    • Matt Saternus

      Nigel,

      I believe it was 4:30, maybe a bit faster. It was nowhere near the 6 hour rounds that I’ve heard about. I’m sure that can happen, but I tend to think that’s more of an exaggeration that a normal condition.

      Best,

      Matt

  8. Garen Eggleston

    Played in a special Coaches Classic Tournament in 06&07 , stayed in a house on number 1 at Pebble , very pricey but worth each and every cent . The trip if a lifetime and one that’s imbedded in my mind until I draw my last breath

  9. Obviously this is meant for only the elite to be able to enjoy factor in the cost of inflation and gas prices now as common folk can’t even go down and scoop balls from the ocean

  10. John Morphy

    This article is very accurate and helpful in deciding to play Pebble Beach. I played there in the early 90’s and it was the same then – expensive – but well worth it at least once. I stayed in one of the rooms directly beyond the 18 th green. Many reasons to play / been watching it on TV for years, all of the greats have played there. Your imagination runs wild, some of the best seaside holes in the world and being there feels wonderful. An unknown tip I have done many times. Make an early morning trip to Carmel beach and enjoy true solitude in a special place, dad north towards Pebble and find a spot where you can walk right onto the course. You can easily walk 9 8 7 one of the best par fours in the world Jack Nicklaus said the second shot was his favorite in the world 6 a superb short par three and 5 a great uphill par five. No rules but make sure you don’t interfere with any golf and if a Ranger walks up don’t despair as he will take your picture. On top of all this Carmel should be on your bucket list if you have not been there.

    PS – a much lower cost golf alternative Pasatiempo. An Alistar McKenzie course / designed Cypress Point and lived at Passtiempo

  11. I walked it in April of 1996 for $245. Bargain.

  12. Charles DeVerna

    Watching HOF induction last night and got a real laugh out of the Ueberroth/Karis preserving PB for the public. $575 green fee alone eliminates98% of the golfers in the US. Add Caddie/Room and your number is, as stated, over $1500 for 1 round. Wow, if I stay a week I can prorate that to about $1250 per round…what a bargain! Makes playing Pinehurst #2 look inexpensive. PB is absolutely 1st class all the way but you pay dearly for it.

  13. Played it in 1987, $151 per round. Was able to book months in advance on a PB “national tee time” website, so I stayed in Napa and drove down. Was my greatest golf experience until I was fortunate enough to play Cypress Point 8 years ago.

  14. Jim Stanger

    My wife and I decided to stop by and see if we could walk on at Peeble after sightseeing around Carmel. Worked out fine, I believe we walked and carried our bags but could not believe we were paying $50 (total I think) to play a round of golf!. I thought after, as impressive as the area was, without the surrounding sea scape, the course itself was wonderful but didn’t quite meet expectations. $500+ for a round of golf seems ridiculous, hardly a “public” golf course.

  15. trip is booked for June. it’s rescheduled from the original trip planned for 2020. I’m taking my dad out there for a bucket list golf trip. I know that he wouldn’t spend that kind of money on himself even though he could, so I’m picking up the tab for the memories that we will make. thanks for the information Matt.

  16. I was fortunate to play Pebble Beach 30 years ago. My index back then was around a 5. After getting over the 1st tee jitters I was playing great. Had a kick in birdie on 6 to go 1 under. Then all hell broke loose. I looked over at #7 and remember Tom Kite hitting a 5 iron into a howling wind. You see #17 in the distance and think of Watson and Jack. I totally got caught up in the history and beauty of it all. I doubled 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 18. Finished with a smooth 88 and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

  17. Michael Pasvantis

    I was lucky enough to play Pebble and Spyglass and even stay at the lodge (our room was on the 18th fairway!) for the cost of airfare and the transportation to the course (I flew into San Jose late at night and it’s was a $100 Uber ride). You can’t just fly into the Monterrey Peninsula (even though there is an airport there it’s super expensive and exclusive as well lol).
    This golf and lodging was free for me (long story) so my experience may be skewed since I didn’t pay the bulk of the costs although my last second flight from Florida to California was almost $900…for a coach seat lol. Regardless it was a no brainer to spend that money for what I got.
    Pebble is Pebble, I knew every hole before I played it but seeing it on TV and being there live is just a completely different experience. Our weather was insane. It started out overcast and fairly cool, I was wearing slacks, thermal long sleeve undershirt and a golf polo on top of that. It then got very cold and very windy, had to put my rain/wind jacket on and that not quite enough to keep me warm. .
    Then it returned to very mild conditions, so much so that I took off the jacket and the polo shirt…then the driving rain came and it got super cold and windy again. Back to all the layers on lol and to finish the round ended with a clear blue sky and sun shining!
    Our caddie said you just experienced a classic Pebble Beach 4 season round. Apparently it happens there quite a bit in the fall months lol. The views are stunning although one could argue that Spyglass is even more amazing but there is nothing like Pebble Beach. Now if I can only finagle the same experience at St. Andrews lol

  18. My husband and I spent our 25th Wedding Anniversary at PB. We played Spanish Bay, PB and Spyglass. We stayed at the Inn at Spanish Bay, did the Ocean View, ate at THE BENCH, watched the Bagpipes on Spanish Bay. Every minute was magical, and BTW, I aced #7 at Pebble Beach, and my husband got it on video. It was better than any trip to Europe I have ever experienced, Hawaii, you name it. We both are obsessed with golf. I’m a 23 handicap, and I had the greatest time of my life!

  19. Read most of the responses to Matt’s review. Not surprised by any of them. That’s what you typically see; a plethora of varied responses from A to Z. Have been going out there since 1989. Played all 3 peninsula courses last year with my golf buddies from Dallas, plus Poppy Hills and Bayonet. They had a wonderful time. I am fortunate that I share an interest in a home in PB. Set up like a time share, so I get 2 weeks a year to enjoy paradise. There are several golf alternatives in the area, like the mentioned Pasatiempo, which itself is now $295 a round; no exceptions. Personally, I think a “bucket list” course is one you want to play at least once. If you could play it multiple times because of price, availability or access, it wouldn’t be that special. I have seen green fees go from $60 in 1989 ($40-45 for “twilight” golf) to the current rate. Believe me when I say, there is no comparison from course conditions in 1989 to today. In 1989, it was a goat pasture compared today. If prices were more reasonable today, it would be accessible to many more golfers and just wouldn’t seem near as “special”. No matter how many times I have been fortunate to play PB, and I have played it a lot over the course of 33 years, whether I am playing or not, I still get a “rush” when I drive by and see the course on a sunny bluebird day.
    With that said, I totally agree with Matt’s observation on the cost of food and beverage – astronomically high.

  20. Ah yes, Covid. The golf industry has profited dramatically from this. My local course used to see 100 rounds per day average. Now, 190 rounds per day! You basically can never get on the course anymore. I sometimes think of giving this sport up completely due to the ever and constant frustration of trying to find a time to get in a round.

  21. Jason Rosen

    I appreciate the opinions and article. I have played some of the best courses in the U.S. as well as St. Andrews. Yes, I stood in line at 4am in 40 degree damp wind blowing weather to get a 9am tee time in April 2018. It was enough time to get breakfast and spend even more money in the pro shop than my green fee which was 150UK + 50UK for the caddy +tip. From that day on I never could understand how you can play St. Andrews for less than a place like Pebble Beach? I then said from that day on I’d never pay that kind of money for Pebble. But what I do it for charity?
    Enter an invitation to the Clay Walker Charity Golf Tournament… Four nights at The Inn, two rounds at Spy Glass, a round at Pebble Beach, a gala dinner and swag, plus a tax write off. I’ll be 5 days shy of my 52nd birthday, and have an interest free credit card. After reading these comments and articles, I feel secure in checking off another box on the bucket list. And since this is a package deal, according to the quoted prices, I’m saving money if I did it on my own.

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