The ninth hole at Pebble Beach has undergone some minor renovations. (Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Not that Pebble Beach is exactly lacking in magnificent views, but anyone heading out to the ninth fairway during this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am can expect to be rewarded with a new eyeful.
Crews removed a 6- to 8-foot-tall conglomeration of poison oak and blackberry bushes last year, a change that creates a little more vulnerability even while enhancing aesthetics.
“It opened up the ocean vista,” said Chris Dalhamer, superintendent at the iconic layout. “It looks now like it should have been.”
The removal is part of a stepped-up effort to clear out non-native vegetation that has taken hold around the course over time. The effect on play should be minimal, though players in the fairway might feel a little more wind coming off the Pacific Ocean.
A cool, dry winter on the Monterey Peninsula has set up firm and fast conditions this week, though players will find some landing areas marked with divots that haven’t fully grown back.
“I just read this is the third-driest [winter] in the San Francisco-Monterey area in the last 150 years,” Dalhamer said. “Your recovery on some of the smaller things is a little tougher, but that’s really the only negative to it. We’ve been able to get our setup pretty good.”
Players also will find new tees on Nos. 4 and 12, though they were simply rebuilt for better drainage. The tee at the par-4 fourth did get a slight shift to the left, though only the keenest of eyes might have spotted it.
“If I didn’t tell you,” Dalhamer said, “probably half the field would go up to those tees and never really notice.”
Forecasts call for mostly dry conditions this week, avoiding the “Crosby weather” that remains part of the tournament’s lore. Showers are in Friday’s forecast, which Dalhamer said is the first chance of rain the Peninsula’s seen in nearly a month. The weekend calls for nothing but sun.
“It’ll be good if the weather cooperates,” he added. “We’re always at the threat of Mother Nature this time of year, but that’s part of the tournament. If we do get rain, hopefully it won’t be too much.”