RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

The Loop

Pebble Beach finally has practice facility to brag about

January 30, 2014

The majestic views of the Pacific seen from half its holes ensure Pebble Beach Golf Links will never, ever, EVER be known for its practice area. But the fact that America's No. 1 public course had far from a first-rate range for visitors making their bucket-list trip to the Monterey Peninsula has finally been addressed.

Officials at the resort left no stone unturned in building its new practice facility, which opened last week to accompanying acclaim. The 350-yard, double-sided range complements almost an acre of greens and bunkers, devoted to short-game practice.

Pebble Beach Golf Academy director Laird Small, who is going into his 26th year working at the facility, says the plans to replace the old range were some two decades in the making. But well worth the wait. Pebble's prior range was something out of the Stone Age. This one, though, is built to last, as it fits in with the resort's long-term vision, says Small (below, left).


Photo by TGO

A few years back, while I helped survey 45 pros for Golf Digest on which practice facility was the best on the PGA Tour, Pebble's was among a handful singled out as the worst. When the AT&T pro-am returns next week, those averse views will likely be reversed. "Now the pros have a wonderful surface to hit from and a variety of target greens to simulate game conditions," Small says. "I think they're going to be over the moon."

Similarly, for those staying and playing the course the other weeks of the year, the upgrade is sure to be appreciated. "For the resort guests who have been here before, they just can't believe it," Small says. "They think it's amazing. Stunning. There aren't enough adjectives to explain how they feel about it.

"Those that are here for the first time," Small adds, "really don't know any different, yet they realize that the range is a wonderful accent to the golf courses out here. It just fits in. There are wonderful practice facilities all over the world, but now ours is right up there with them."