The First Tee Open gets underway today at Pebble Beach and Monterey's Old Del Monte. Because of logistical issues, the television audience will see the vast majority of this tournament from the famed Pebble Beach, but Old Del Monte (now dubbed just "Del Monte") is the hidden gem of the Monterey Peninsula. They'll post lower scores at Del Monte, but they'll be hard earned.
Operated by the Pebble Beach Company, this layout is a must-play. It's both a great resort-style course and an incredibly challenging scoring course at the same time. And, if you happen to be in town for the First Tee Open it provides a tremendous opportunity to see Champions Tour pros up close and sweating a little. The sweating comes from what at first glance appears to be a simple, less challenging layout. But birdies can be hard to come by at Old Del Monte and it's got a long history of breaking hearts.
Opened for play in 1897, Old Del Monte is the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi. Once part of the historic Old Del Monte Hotel (now the Naval Postgraduate School just across Highway 1 from the course today), it's a beautifully crafted layout at a reasonable price. Adjacent to the Monterey Hyatt, it's perhaps one of the best values you'll find in the Monterey Peninsula golf mecca.
When you see it in person, you'll find it not all that different from it's original condition as shown in historic photos from the Pat Hathaway collection. Check the layout and see more course history from the Pebble Beach Company website, then check it out on your next trip.
As you unload the clubs, notice the small chapel adjacent to the parking lot. Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields were married there in 1997. I remember it well as I was playing the course that day, oblivious to the nuptials until a helicopter hired by the paparazzi flew low over the 11th tee right in middle of my backswing. That cost me two strokes I'd still like to get back.
I think Agassi feels the same way.