If you’re like us, you watched the golf from this past weekend at Pebble Beach Golf Links and got fired up about some day traveling to the Monterey Peninsula to play the famed course. Officials at the Pebble Beach Company might have another enticement to make that trip happen sooner than later.
In August, the facility is hosting the U.S. Amateur Challenge at Pebble Beach, held in conjunction with the USGA bringing its oldest championship back to the course for the fifth time (and the first since 1999). According to Robbie Zalzneck, USGA manager for the U.S. Amateur, it’s the first time the USGA has approved an outside golf event be played on the course holding one of its championships before the championship has concluded.
Participants in The Challenge will compete in their own tournament—a two-person best-ball net team event—playing a round at Spyglass Hill and a second at The Links at Spanish Bay on Aug. 16-17. The low 120 scores from these two days will then get to play a final round at Pebble Beach on Aug. 18, after the conclusion of the U.S. Amateur Saturday semifinals matches. All other teams will play again at Spyglass Hill (which is the co-host of the stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Amateur).
Zalzneck said officials at Pebble Beach approached the USGA a few years ago about trying something different to expand fan engagement with the U.S. Amateur. The USGA signed off with the understanding that the U.S. Amateur is the first priority should weather or other delays prohibit additional play beyond the semifinal matches on that Saturday. The current schedule would have the semifinal matches played in the morning (and broadcast live on Fox Sports) with at least a 90-minute buffer between them and the start of The Challenge.
August is traditionally a dry time of year in Northern California, diminishing worries that weather issues might interfere with both events. Additionally, the Fox TV window (created by playing the event on the West Coast), provided a Saturday afternoon opening that allowed The Challenge to go from concept to reality.
“This probably doesn’t work at many other places,” Zalzneck said. “But Pebble is a great place to try it. The impact on the golf course [for the 36-hole U.S. Amateur final on Sunday] should be absolutely negligible compared to a normal championship scenario. … We are going to protect the tees. Ninety-nine percent of the time our landing areas will be different. The semifinalists won’t have any idea what’s going on, and the finalists won’t know what happened the day before other than reading about it. We’re confident that this is going to be a pretty cool situation.”
Mind you, the privilege of playing in The Challenge comes with a price; the cost to enter is $5,500 per person. In addition to the three rounds of golf, the entry fee includes three nights stay at The Links at Spanish Bay. Each participant also gets a ticket to the U.S. Amateur and access to the Fairway One Meeting Room along Pebble Beach’s first fairway.