April 21, 2008

Angry Golfer: Bloodletting In California

Want to play Pebble Beach? You're looking at $2500 before you tip the parking guy or snack on foie gras at the halfway house

Some friends recently inquired about celebrating a wedding anniversary at Pebble Beach, the idyllic site of their marriage years earlier. What they learned was startling: the cost of a round for two runs about $1,000, a fee that includes a cart, although the pair are excellent players and likely would prefer a caddie, which pushes the damage closer to $1,200.

It's the two-night stay at The Lodge, a requisite for making a tee time at Pebble, that complicates things. The cheapest room there goes for $675 (I know, there a number of other resorts that charge as much), meaning the actual price for 18 holes isn't a dime below $2,500 before you start flipping fivers at the help. With all due respect to the concept of free enterprise, resort owner Clint Eastwood and his fellow investors should be ashamed of themselves for using an American landmark this way.

Monuments such as Pebble Beach should be reasonably affordable to people who work for a living. And please, spare me the spiel about how Eastwood and his gang rescued this gem when they purchased it in 1999. This is an operation driven by the pursuit of profit, making one of the game's transcendent experiences a hazard of red ink to those who would most appreciate it.

So c'mon, Clint. Make my day. Lighten up on the dollar signs. Nobody should have to lose an arm and a leg to indulge in such a precious memory, which explains why my friends canceled their return to the Monterey Peninsula even before they began wrestling with the airline. With two kids and a finite budget, they'll have to suffice with a babysitter, a lap around their home course, a nice bottle of champagne and a table for two at a fine restaurant.

They'll save three or four grand and buy something more useful. Like a loveseat with child-proof upholstery.