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Out-of-Place at Pebble Beach

In the face of unparalleled temptation – I had shown restraint. This was not the usual temptation most golfers encounter.   Not the nudge you feel when you find your ball three small inches out-of-bounds. Not the passive voice you hear when you completely slice your drive and you decide, hey I’m not playing a tournament here – a mulligan (or 3) is just fine.

This was different. This involved a small, seemingly simple wooden fence.  I could hear the waves crashing against the coast…I could smell the salty air. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back as I peered down at that awkward wooden fence – the fence that was between me and the 18th green.

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“Well did you jump it?” I’m often asked by many of my golf peers. I didn’t. It was that restraint I mentioned. See, this was not just any fence and some random 18th green. This small fence separated me from the 18th green at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.

How did I end up just feet away from one of most talked about greens in golf? Well in June of 2012 my family and I embarked on a trip to visit a family friend in Salinas, California. The day before we left a colleague of mine, who knew I was a golf enthusiast, recommended we do the 17 Mile Drive.

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I actually hadn’t really heard much about the 17 Mile Drive or even where it was exactly in relation to where we’d be staying. Once I realized it was doable I told my wife to set aside an entire day for it.

You pay a small toll for non-residents to drive it – but it’s completely worth it. You see some beautiful public courses as well as Spyglass Hill and Cypress Point.

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When we reached Pebble Beach I knew I had to explore as much as possible. General parking was very accessible. We walked to the courtyard which is lined with miscellaneous stores, gift shops and boutiques.  It was there I noticed a sign off in the distance – 18th Green with an arrow pointing right.

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As we were walking around to the back of the club- I actually had no idea if we were permitted to do this or not. Reaching the back of the lodge was like walking into an entirely different world for me. Well-dressed gentlemen in colorful slacks and collared button-downs were playing Bocce Ball while women in sun hats drank sparkling drinks on the balcony. Quite a contrast to rural Western Iowa.

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My wife would blame this on a lack of planning (which she hates) but I’m a tattooed individual walking around Pebble Beach in jeans, a t-shirt, a DC hat and Converse sneakers. Out-of-place would be an understatement.

We approached the small wooden spectator fence – there were still fresh imprints in the grass from where the grandstands had sat recently.

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It was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in my life. Looking towards the green, out over the water and down towards the beach at Carmel. Behind me – the majestic Pebble Beach Lodge.

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All I could do was visualize some of golf’s greats walking that green; while frantically trying to text my Dad a picture. (I had to brag.) Thanks to my parents, I’d grown up with an appreciation for the game. They introduced me to it at such a young age. I even read Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul in high school (not kidding). Now that I think about it…I should really be a better golfer.

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Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity to return and play the Pebble Beach Golf Links. If I am that lucky, I’ll remember to dress differently. While I did get some great pictures, as well as some priceless memories, I didn’t leave Pebble Beach empty-handed. I bought a shot glass.

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Ok…ok, I also bought my Dad a book on the history of the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

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