Of the 45 official PGA Tour events played in the US, half of the courses are open to public play. Some are 5-star resorts, and others are affordable municipalities. We asked some of our GolfTEC Coaches to offer tips on playing 5 of these public venues:
1. Pebble Beach – Pebble Beach, CA
Pebble Beach Resorts, 5-time host to the U.S. Open, is a legendary and widely celebrated course. Dramatic coastlines and forests, a rich history and world-class accommodations make it one of the top public golf courses in America.
While there are other several Top 100 courses in the area (Pasatiempo Golf Club, Bayonet Black Horse or Spyglass Hill just to name a few) Pebble Beach is far and away the most famous golf course in the Western United States.
When PGA tour players play Pebble Beach, they emphasize hitting fairways and placing the ball in a good place to attack the pins that will be tucked for a tour event. Tour players will look to hit the tee shot in the appropriate place on the fairway to leave an open shot into the green.
When playing the course as an amateur, make sure to get a caddy or share a double caddy. Walking the course will allow you to make the most of the experience. Also, the main concern for an amateur should be to first, hit the fairway, and second to hit the center of the green.
Coach Brent Walsh – GolfTEC San Jose
2. Sawgrass – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
TPC Sawgrass offers two championship golf courses that are open for the public to enjoy – The PLAYERS Stadium Course, Home of The PLAYERS Championship, and Dye’s Valley Course, host of the Web.com Tour Championship. The Stadium Course received its name because the holes feature stadium-like seating, which is one of the reasons it’s such a great place to watch a tournament.
This course has one of the most famous Par 3 in the history of the game. Every diehard golfer in the world wants to play the famous island green Par 3 17th. It is challenging, scary, fun, exhilarating and demanding all at the same time! The hole actually isn’t very long by Tour standards, but it’s so visually intimidating that it makes even the best players in the world tense.
The best advice for amateurs when you come to play this course is to NOT THINK about #17. Try and put it out of your mind as best you can and you must truly use the adage “one shot at a time”. This is the only way to play this magnificent course successfully.
Coach Craig Knight – GolfTEC Jacksonville
3. PGA National Resort – Palm Beach, FL
Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio for major tournament play, the Champion course at PGA National Resort & Spa was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990. Now host to the Honda Classic, it is the first stop on the “Florida Swing” of the PGA tour.
With its scary “Bear Trap” and undulating fairways, the Champion course is ranked as the toughest non-major course on the PGA tour. A real treat for any amateur is the opportunity to play the Champion course the week before it closes for the tournament with the grandstands, tournament signage up and the course in tournament ready condition (high rough and fast greens). This gives any golfer the opportunity to feel like a pro and wave to the empty grandstands at the 18th hole after sinking their final putt.
Coach Aaron Pollak – GolfTEC West Palm Beach
4 & 5. Torrey Pines, North and South Course – La Jolla, CA
Located in La Jolla, California, Torrey Pines Golf Course sits on the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is recognized as the premier municipal golf course owned and operated by a city. It is named after the Torrey Pine, a rare tree that grows in the wild only along this local stretch of the coastline in San Diego County and on Santa Rosa Island.
Torrey Pines offers two picturesque courses and hosts the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open. The first two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open are split between the two courses, and it is no secret to the PGA players that a low score is needed on the North Course in order to get into position to contend – or even make the cut – due to the difficulty of the South Course. The South Course is also famous for the US Open that Tiger won in a playoff with Rocco Mediate…on one leg…quite an achievement if you play the South.
While the South is more famous, amateurs should not skip over the North as it also offers a challenge and some equally impressive views of the Pacific. If you’re up for it, skip the power cart and walk the courses when you play so you can savor the views and get a real feel for how the Pros see it. (Plan on using every club in the bag if you decide to tackle these courses.) The Grill at the Torrey Pines Lodge is a nice 19th hole where you can sit, enjoy a beverage and a good burger and recount your fabulous day on the course!
John Cooper, City Manager – GolfTEC San Diego
Suzanne LaTour, Regional Franchise Owner – GolfTEC San Diego