Even with Tiger Woods and assorted NFL quarterbacks in the field, the biggest stars at the Crosby Clambake are the golf courses. On Friday Woods will tee it up at Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course for the first time in competition, bringing the spotlight to the tournament's newest attraction.
In 2010, the Shore made a smashing return to the rota after a 33-year absence. In the interim the course had been totally revamped, and the Shore wowed the pros with its graceful routing, artful bunkering, imaginative greens, superb conditioning and endless ocean views. Phil Mickelson declared it "one of my favorite courses on Tour." Stuart Appleby went so far as to offer this sacrilegious tweet, referencing a more famous course down the road: "Monterey is a great course, better then PB."MPCC and the PGA Tour have a deal in place through 2014, and it's expected that the club will remain a long-term fixture. It's a classic win-win: both the tournament and the reputation of MPCC have been greatly elevated. But as part of the next deal, it's possible that golf fans will be seeing less of the Shore Course. That's because, in an absolute embarrassment of riches, MPCC boasts another terrific 18 holes: the Dunes Course, a 1926 collaboration between fabled course architects Seth Raynor and Robert Hunter.
In the late-'90s Rees Jones performed a makeover, and in the last few years he has redone bunkers and added some macho new tees. The Dunes is the longer, tighter and tougher of the two courses, and while it does not have the start-to-finish elegance of the Shore or quite as many ocean vistas, it does boast one of the Peninsula's best par-5s, the lovely ninth hole, which plays through the dunes. It also has one of the world's most spectacular par-3s, the 175-yard 14th hole, which demands a full-blooded carry over the churning Pacific.Says one MPCC member, "A lot of the people here think it would be pretty neat to alternate the courses for the tournament. There are some clubs out there with two very good golf courses—Winged Foot, Olympic and Whisper Rock come to mind—but no other club has two courses hosting a PGA Tour event."Steve John, the recently appointed tournament director of the Monterey Peninsula Golf Foundation, which oversees the Pro-Am, says that adding the Dunes to the mix will be discussed when the next agreement is hammered out between the club and the Tour. "The Shore has been so well-received by the players and looks so great on TV, it'd be tough to leave it, even for a year," says John, an MPCC member. "But there's no doubt the Dunes is the more demanding course, and it would provide a great test for the tournament. It certainly has its own personality. I don't know what will happen, but it's an intriguing idea."Even more intriguing is the notion of a composite course taking the best holes from both courses and combining them into one 18-hole layout, as was done for the recent Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. Once a year MPCC members play an event on a composite; the first four holes and final two of the Shore are dropped in favor of 10 through 15 of the Dunes, creating a course in which every hole has a view of the ocean. While conceding it's not very likely that such a layout would be used for the Pro-Am, John can't quite disguise his enthusiasm. "How cool would that be?" he says.
(Photo: MPCC's Shore Course during the 2010 Pebble Beach Pro-Am; Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)