The Hay, Pebble Beach Resorts’ nine-hole short course, this weekend celebrates its first month of operation. In that short period of time, The Hay, designed by Tiger Woods, has been the most talked about golf course in the country.
But while The Hay generally is regarded as the newest addition to Pebble Beach Resorts, it actually is the legacy of Peter Hay, a legendary golf professional at Pebble Beach who lobbied for a short course more than 65 years ago. In 1957, he was given the opportunity to develop one of the country’s first short courses on one golf’s more famous pieces of land along California’s Monterey Peninsula.
The Peter Hay Course certainly fulfilled its promise of a fun, playable short course at arguably the country’s most famous golf resort. But as the resort’s fame and success grew, so did the need for more space during events such as the U.S. Open and Concours d’Elegance classic car show.
“We were almost a victim of own success, where the size of the events got to be so big, we needed that land – or so we thought,” said John Sawin, vice president and director of golf at Pebble Beach Resorts.
Sawin’s first assignment when he arrived at Pebble Beach in 2018 was to figure out the future of the Peter Hay Course following the 2019 U.S. Open.
“We knew we would be using that site for the U.S Open in 2019, which required taking the old golf course out of commission and really tearing it up,” Sawin said.
Indeed, the course was used as the U.S. Open’s Grand Entrance and Fan Central, meaning that thousands of people – along with 75,000 square feet of retail tenting and video boards – turned it into mush.
“I knew what we had done after the 2000 and 2010 (U.S. Opens), which was basically put back the old Peter Hay course with similar routing,” Sawin said. “The main constraint to making it great was its continued use for special events.
“It’s a difficult concession to make an investment in a golf course if you’re going to keep using it for U.S. Opens, the Concours and the AT&T (Pebble Beach Pro-Am). Golf was almost a secondary function on the property. As a result, the quality wasn’t good enough for the golfer to really take the time and play it.”
One month before the 2019 U.S. Open that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Pebble Beach Golf Links, Sawin caddied for Woods, the 2000 U.S. Open Champion at Pebble Beach, during a round on the fabled course. That four-to-five hours of interaction became the beginnings of The Hay.
“At the end of the round, (Woods) asked about the future of that property after the 2019 U.S. Open,” Sawin said. “He said that if it ever got to the point where we want to make a big investment, he’d love to be a part of it. That obviously was planted in my head.”
Understand that Woods’ relationship with Pebble Beach Resorts goes beyond his runaway victory at the 2000 U.S. Open. For example, Peter Ueberroth, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and part of the group (including Clint Eastwood and Arnold Palmer) that in 1999 bought Pebble Beach Co, is on the board of the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Can you say, “no brainer?”
“Once we got approval on the use of the space and talked about architects, it was pretty clear that the consensus was Tiger,” Sawin said.
Woods re-routed the short course holes (47 yards to 106 yards) to maximize the views and celebrate Pebble Beach’s rich history. The second hole, called “Seven,” is a replica of Pebble Beach Golf Links’ fabled 106-yard, par-three, seventh hole, perhaps the most photographed hole in the history of golf.
The consensus among Pebble Beach bosses – even before the selection of Woods – was that The Hay stay exclusively a golf course. It would not be used as a parking lot for fancy cars and host to vendor tents – but revert full time to its namesake’s vision of a welcoming golf facility for beginners, junior and resort guests who want to “play” Pebble Beach at a more affordable rate.
“We’re bringing people the Pebble Beach golf experience,” Sawin said. “Very few of our guests play 36 (holes) a day, but they are within that frame of mind. So, The Hay is really a perfect fit for them. They can continue to play golf and have fun on the course without wearing out their bodies with another four-to-five-hour round.”
And best of all, have that Pebble Beach golf experience.