A successful 2019 U.S. Open helped Pebble Beach Resorts celebrate its 100th anniversary in style.
Considering the famed resort on California's Monterey Peninsula spent millions the previous five years getting ready for such an important milestone - building the Pebble Beach Golf Academy (2014), Fairway One at the Lodge (2017) and Pebble Beach Visitor Center (2018) - it's no surprise that a bump in green fees is coming, too.
Starting April 1, a round at Pebble Beach Golf Links will cost $575 for resort guests, an increase of $50 since January 2019. In the realm of American public/resort golf, only Shadow Creek near Las Vegas costs more ($750). Spyglass Hill will also jump from $395 to $415 and the Links at Spanish Bay from $290 to $295. Del Monte's cost remains the same ($110 plus cart). It's still to be determined what the new Peter Hay par-3 course will charge when Tiger Woods finishes a redesign this fall.
John Sawin, the resort's Vice President & Director of Golf, told me prior to the 2019 U.S. Open that a round at Pebble Beach might be "under-priced." Pebble Beach's green fees originally jumped from $525 to $550 immediately following the resort's sixth U.S. Open last June.
"Being a business person, this is the most fascinating thing to study, because the demand is almost perfectly maxed," he said at U.S. Open media day. "Every basic principle of economics says we are under-priced, but there is a certain amount of goodwill that goes into it. Being open to the public is certainly something. We don’t want to price everybody out. We held the rate flat for 10 years. It stayed under $500 at $495. And then we go to the $500s. If you look at the way that rate has moved in the last 12 years, it is about a one percent average growth rate per year."
Sawin mentioned that labor and water costs are going up faster than green fees. "It’s expensive," he admitted, "but we still want people to be able to afford it for that premium golf experience. When you run 100 percent occupancy for the whole year, you would say we are under-priced."
Guaranteeing an advanced Pebble Beach tee time requires a stay at either The Lodge at Pebble Beach ($940 and up) or the Inn at Spanish Bay ($820 and up). Golfers who aren't resort guests can attempt to make a tee time 24 hours in advance by phone or walk-up that morning. Those $575 tee times will include a $45 cart fee surcharge for players who want to ride. Caddies, which aren't required, cost an additional $95 per bag for a double loop or $145 for a single bag (plus tips) for guests or non-guests alike.
I'm often asked if playing Pebble Beach is worth the money. I always say "Yes." No place in the world delivers the full package of scenery, history and service like Pebble Beach. My advice remains the same: Play it now rather than later. With a 2023 U.S. Women's Open and 2027 U.S. Open on tap (coupled with inflation), it's inevitable that the green fees eventually rise again.
Is $575 too expensive for a round of golf, even at Pebble Beach? Let us know in the comments below.