In Appreciation Of Pebble Beach's 11th Hole
Remodeled green puts spotlight on an unfairly maligned par-4
You know the refrain: but the inland holes are no good.
During during Saturday’s third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, CBS spoiled us with both live drone and Goodyear Blimp shots. And it does not take a trained eye to see all of the green shrinkage crying out for restoration of lost hole locations. Along with half the ninth hole’s old double fairway, better bunkering and other important touches by Chandler Egan, Robert Hunter and Joe Mayo, the charged with transforming a rudimentary design into a showpiece for the 1929 U.S. Amateur.
Of the inland holes that have lost some luster due to poor evolution and technology, the 11th may have gone backwards the most. At this week’s pro-am we’re getting a first glimpse of the 11th green’s much-needed expansion for when Pebble Beach hosts the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 U.S. Open. The work is the latest in a line of attempts to reclaim hole locations due to flying bunker sand and green shrinkage gone unnoticed.
The broadcasts this week have mentioned the 11th’s long overdue restoration since the USGA could only use one hole location within a 6-foot diameter during the 2019 U.S. Open. This week’s three-course pro-am format necessitates using a similar location each of the first three days, meaning we have yet to see how much more versatile the 11th green has become. Sunday’s final round should show us a reclaimed pin placement.
Recent work to the 13th, 14th and 17th greens restored hole locations at the expense of some character, slope and strategy. After on-course reporter Colt Knost’s remark during Saturday’s broadcast about how they “did the players a favor by flattening the green,” it’s likely another almost got it effort.
But what makes the 11th good design work? First consider what has going against it.
The 11th follows three of the greatest par-4’s on the planet. There is nothing close to the quality of the 8th 9th and 10th holes anywhere, even in their depleted state with shrunken greens and the lost 9th double fairway sitting there crying out to be restored.
The 11th plays uphill, away from the ocean and at the farthest point from The Lodge. Everyone knows it’s just a way to start the return to the clubhouse.
The 11th is only 373 yards. In the modern game that’s moving to drivable status compared to what it was intended to be, a drive and mid or long-iron.
So what makes the hole a good one?