Monday, March 28, 2005

Guest Column: Is Pebble too much?

Note: I recently had a discussion with my good friend and regular golfing companion, Steve Waxman, about why he avoided playing Pebble Beach on a recent trip to Cali. He explained it to me and I asked him to write something up about it. Steve's the consumate public golfer, without many of the perks that I receive, so I thought his commentary on the subject might interest some readers.

On a recent trip to California I drove down the coast and stop in at Pebble Beach to take a look at the hallowed 18th. Of course, I knew what a round would cost but I asked anyway. $395, I was told, until April when it goes up to $440. My girlfriend was shocked at the price. I just shrugged and wondered if I would ever get an invitation to play a complimentary round.

A couple of weeks later Rob and I got into a debate as to how much was too much for a round of golf.

“You paid $250 to play the Old Course,” he reminded me.

But that’s the Old Course. It is the birth place of the game and we got to play on the same sacred fairways as the likes of Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Arnie, Jack and Tiger. Sure Pebble Beach is recognized as one of the world’s greatest courses, but is it worth more than St. Andrews?

I thought it over for a while and decided that $250 seemed a reasonable price to pay for the privilege of hitting and number of balls into the Pacific Ocean off a course that inspired awe from most golfers. So that’s it then, for the greatest, most magical courses the price of $250 seems fair. Take it down a level to world-class Championship courses such as Pinehurst, Whistling Straits or Glen Abbey and $130 feels like the right price. After that, $75 - $90 is the right price for a great course (one that could hold a professional qualifying tournament), depending on amenities. The majority of good courses getting regular public play should keep their greens fees from $45 - $70.

Golf was once seen as a sport of the elite because of the prohibitive cost. Because of that mentality the sport feel into the doldrums until 1997 when Tiger Woods hit the scene and brought millions of new players to the game. For a while, courses made the game affordable for the new recruits but in time full tee sheets paved the way for higher greens fees and, in time, the elitist tag was hung on the game once again. And now what?

I’m a weekend golfer who plays more than most like me and it burns to pay the greens fee that are putting a strain on my bank account. Ultimately I might only be able to practice in school fields and hope that I’ll be invited to a corporate golf tournament or two for work.

2 Comments:

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Bunker said...

In 1977 I played Pebble for $25. Including cart. I shot 103 and enjoyed every one of those strokes.

I played Pasatiempo last year for $175, and that's the only chance I'll ever get to play a MacKenzie course--unless my game suddenly improves and I get an invite to Augusta.

They have overpriced the course. And that happened because of Tiger and Japanese tourists. Personally, I think Tiger was bad for the game of golf, although he was good for the golf business. Pebble is but one example.

 
At 7:51 AM, Blogger dave said...

I could not believe those prices. I live in Florida and play at Harbor Hills in Lady Lake. I don't really know the exact price as my wife is the assistant manager so my price is very low. I do know that it is below the 50$ range. Take a look at the course. Harborhills.com or their blogspot at Harborhills.blogspot.com. I think it is a great value.

 

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