It was not widely known, but Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach, since its inception, has been a public golf course with a semi-private element to it, the Spyglass Hill Golf Club.
It was made up of 250 founders, who were brought on board by the Northern California Golf Association to finance the building of the course. They paid $2,500 up front and yearly dues of $50. In turn, they received nine starting times each weekday morning and 12 on each weekend, without having to pay the green fee.
“As things progressed,” Robert Trent Jones II, one of the founding members, said, “it became the best deal in golf. That’s why they wanted the starting times back.”
On Friday, the Pebble Beach Company will finally get them back. The 50-year agreement that began on March 11, 1966, opening day at Spyglass Hill, will end on Thursday.
Spyglass Hill, designed by Jones’ father Robert Trent Jones, is 48th on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and is 11th on its ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.
Jones II, who worked on the project as an apprentice for his father, called it a sad day, “because it reminds me how fast 50 years go by. Having been present at the creation and on site during construction, and having been my father’s representative, it’s bittersweet. It was a beautiful thing. It’s been a great, great run for those people.
“The spirit of golf has always been alive and well since I got to Northern California. This was just to support [the construction] for their own benefit. Sam Morse [founder of Pebble Beach] got a great deal, too. Basically it was a good deal for everyone, that has come to its logical leasehold conclusion.”
Only 12 of the founders are surviving and include Jones II and his brother Rees, former USGA president Sandy Tatum, and Bob Lurie, the former owner of the San Francisco Giants.