Pebble Beach Golf Links is the Derek Zoolander of coastal layouts: really, really, really good looking, and photogenic in almost any light. But rarely is its famous profile more appealing than when captured through the camera lens of Joann Dost.
A former LPGA Tour player, Dost snapped her first pictures of Pebble in 1976, when photography was just her hobby. It soon became a new career.
In the 40 years since, Dost has taken several hundred thousand photographs of Pebble. In rain and shine. At dawn and dusk. In the throes of major competitions.
Her photos have appeared in magazines, brochures, galleries and books, the latest of which is a new coffee table compilation, The Ultimate Round: Pebble Beach Golf Links—An Illustrated Guide to America’s Dream Course.
With the PGA Tour on its way to Pebble Beach once more this weekend for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, GOLF.com asked Dost to share some of her favorite shots of her favorite muse, along with any memories they stirred.
THE ICONIC PAR-3 7TH
Dost’s two favorite holes to shoot couldn’t be more different. One is the stout par-5 18th. The other is the pint-sized par-3 7th, which Dost captured in this photo in 2008, during a big El Nino winter. “The water had this beautiful greenish tint to it, and 25-foot waves were crashing in,” she says. “At times like that, if you’re standing on the green, you can almost feel the earth shaking under your feet.”
THE 18TH GREEN IN GAUZY LIGHT
In 2001, the iconic cypress tree guarding the 18th green succumbed to disease but was soon replaced by this healthy doppelganger. “It’s a much fuller, lusher tree than the old one was toward the end of its life, and it photographs beautifully,” Dost says. All the more so in this hazy light.
THE VIEW FROM ABOVE
“I love shooting Pebble in dramatic weather,” Dost says. But on a clear blue day, a bird’s-eye view of the course from a helicopter isn’t bad either.
A FOURSOME ON THE FIRST HOLE
Golfers aren’t the only ones who keep close track of Pebble tee times. “The deer know exactly when the last groups go out,” Dost says. For this shot of the first hole, Dost waited until late afternoon to catch the final foursome of the day.
TOM WATSON’S EPIC CHIP-IN
On Sunday afternoon at the 1982 U.S. Open, the tournament had two huge names in the hunt. And Dost had one very big decision. “Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson weren’t in the same group, so I had to settle on which one to follow,” she says. “From my own experience as a player, I just had a feeling that Watson was going to do something special so I stuck with him.” Good call. This shot from behind the 17th green shows Watson’s exultant reaction to his famous birdie chip-in, which put him one clear of Nicklaus (Watson also birdied the 18th hole and won by two). “As the ball rolled toward the hole [Watson] started running after it across the green,” Dost says. “Luckily, he stayed in my frame as he did.”
OUT OF THE DARKNESS
Even after dusk, the 18th green remains a compelling target.
THE DO-OR-DIE PAR-4 8TH
“If the only view you have of the 8th hole is from the tee box at ground level, you really have no idea what you’re in for,” says Dost, who prefers to shoot the stunning par-4 from an elevated perch behind the green. “You want to snap that shot in the morning, otherwise the cliffs are covered in shadow.”
THE NEW-LOOK PAR-3 5TH
“I will probably regret this,” Pebble developer Samuel F.B. Morse said in 1915, after selling off a single five-acre parcel overlooking Stillwater Cove. He sure did. Later that year, when plans for private homes were scrapped in favor of a golf course, the owner of that five-acre plot refused to sell, so the par-3 5th had to be routed inland. In 1995, when Pebble Beach Company finally reacquired the parcel, it hired Jack Nicklaus to redesign the hole. A big improvement for players and photographers alike.
ONE FOR THE BIRDS
Ian Poulter was teeing off on 18 at the 2010 U.S. Open when the scene took on the trappings of an Alfred Hitchcock flick. “There was a huge flock of seagulls on the rocks behind the tee just as he was getting ready to hit,” Dost says. “He didn’t seem to notice them. I didn’t either. But right as he struck the shot, they all took off. There must have been 250 of them, filling the sky around him.”