PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — I can't believe my ears!
Music? On a golf course at Pebble Beach Resorts? It seems that golf's most famous resort has traded its suit coat for a jean jacket and is finally ready to party with the growing movement towards a more casual, welcoming vibe in golf.
The opening of Hay's Place restaurant Oct. 7 felt like a ground swell for the future of the game. Watching all the couples, children and families playing golf on The Hay and hanging out together afterward at Hay's Place last week was an encouraging sight. Hay's Place pairs perfectly with the free putting course and the fun nine-hole, par-3 course by Tiger Woods and his TGR Design overlooking Stillwater Cove. Both are named for Peter Hay, the former long-time head professional at both Pebble Beach and Del Monte golf courses who was a champion of growing the game before that phrase became an industry buzzword.
To me, this cool spot atop Peter Hay Hill has quickly become the best 'hang' at the resort, except for maybe Sticks, which counters with fire pits and the bagpipes at sundown outside the Inn at Spanish Bay.
The first thing guests notice when walking into Hay's Place is how well it lets the outdoors in to take advantage of the amazing view. I'd recommend sitting on the patio, even on chilly nights. The fire pits and heaters will keep you warm. If they don't, there's plenty of blankets provided with the 'Hay logo' - a sea lion with a flagstick in its mouth - as a backup.
The menu brings Mexican-inspired casual cuisine to the resort's food-and-beverage portfolio. Everything I sampled was excellent ... fresh ceviche ($19) and Ensalada de Casa (corn lathered in a rich sauce) as appetizers, and for dinner: Rolle de Langosta (lobster roll), braised short-rib Birria ($19) and a signature dish, the Enchiladas Del Mar Trio ($38), a plate of catch-of-the-day fish, lobster and shrimp with three different sauces.
The cocktails are just as creative. The signature Seal The Deal margarita ($16) is sprinkled with grass clippings from the 18th at Pebble Beach Golf Links! If you can't afford to play the famed clifftop course, taking on the replica of the 7th hole on The Hay, followed by this margarita, might be the next best way to "taste" the real thing.
In case of wicked weather, or for sports fans wanting to watch a game, there are four flat-screen TVs, a bar with stool seating and more tables inside. Hay's Place is open from 11am-9pm daily.
After playing The Hay at the grand opening in April, seeing the course with regular customers, instead of VIPs, brought a whole new perspective on the vision.
I brought a friend and feared he would be underwhelmed by the lack of length (670 yards). He loved it. Teeing off at 5 p.m. midweek, we arrived early enough for a quick tour of the Visitor's Center and two loops around the putting course for a quick match. Being stuck behind a fivesome ended up being a blessing. We both played two balls, each in play during two more competitive matches. The twosome behind us did the same thing. They wisely upped the ante on their second ball by using putters!
Tiger's team did a great job with the limited land. There are downhill shots that stare off into the ocean and uphill shots that feel blind. Be sure to find the plaque on each hole to learn more about the resort's history. Also, the tee marker serves as a guide, featuring a small tag that reveals the exact yardage to the pin that day. We played off of the mats, but there were enough divots as evidence that some groups don't. Or maybe bigger corporate events get the privilege of real grass.
Although The Hay's essentially a pitch-and-putt, we only made one birdie in 36 attempts between us. Your short game will get a workout. It costs $65 for resort guests/general public, $30 for teens and is free for kids 12-and-under.
Back to the music, which is broadcast from speakers surrounding the putting green. It isn't heard on some of the lower holes, but as players walk closer to Hay's Place, that's when the rhythm and the realization hits. This isn't your grandfather's Pebble Beach anymore.