Golf Advisor Podcast Ep. 14: George Kelley, Pebble Beach expert and NoCal golf course operator

The NoCal veteran talks Pebble over 50 years, having to close a course you own and the popularity of revamped Chuck Corica Park.

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Golf Advisor Podcast: George Kelley at Pebble Beach

Imagine Pebble Beach being your boyhood course that you get to play everyday?

That was the experience of George Kelley, who grew up at Pebble Beach and played the course hundreds of times a year thanks to a $450 annual family membership. In celebration of the 2019 U.S Open, Golf Advisor Senior Writer Jason Deegan sat down with him to talk about what's changed at Pebble Beach over 50 years and any highlights he's had. The exposure to one of the game's great golf properties ultimately drew Kelley into the NoCal golf course business.

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Brandon Tucker and Jason Deegan discuss the round they just played at Pebble Beach leading up to the U.S. Open. It was Tucker's first time around the course while Deegan has played it several times. They discuss the rough, greens and all the busting activity going on around the resort.

Kelley describes the feeling as a child moving to Pebble Beach as a young boy and not liking it at first but ultimately getting the golf bug.

How Pebble Beach inspired Kelley to ultimately get into the golf course business.

How being nice to a young Spanish kid on a bus led to a relationship and playing Pebble Beach with Seve Ballesteros.

He also had a chance to caddie in the 1972 U.S. Open and had a pretty embarrassing introduction to his assigned player.

He discussed operating a golf course in NoCal, from his closed Stevinson Ranch course to the revamped Chuck Corica Park, and talks about golf course water use at Corica. In seven years they've reduced their water bill from $600,000 to less than $50,000 annually. He's also bullish on, wait for it, Millennial participation!

The interview ends with some rapid-fire questions including some tips on when to get the most out of your Pebble Beach experience.

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June 26, 2018
At one time, there was talk of shrinking Corica Park to just one regulation course. With the reopening of the South course by Rees Jones and its Linksoul Lab pro shop, a brighter future is in store for the 45-hole municipal facility in between the Oakland Airport and the San Francisco Bay.
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Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Pebble Beach Resort hold special reverence in the golf world. Every golfer who hasn't been wants — and ought — to make a pilgrimage there. With the exception of St. Andrews, no place in golf conjures the sport's allure like Pebble Beach. To utter the name is to summon images of water crashing the sea wall, land's end par threes like the 7th and 17th, a glorious finishing hole that wraps around the rocky beach, and a storehouse of history and lore.
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37 years later, a caddie recalls his experience on Bernhard Langer's bag for the 1982 U.S. Open

Editor's note: in the interview, the Pebble Beach green fee is said to be $525. It recently went up to $550.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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Golf Advisor Podcast Ep. 14: George Kelley, Pebble Beach expert and NoCal golf course operator