I recently talked to a friend who played at Pebble Beach. Yes, he plunked down north of $500 to play there, but his response, when I asked him if it was "worth it" was telling.
"Worth every penny," he offered.
I absolutely agree, and this is coming from a guy who drinks the generic sodas at home because he doesn't want to pay an additional 70 cents for a case of brand names. Seriously.
Golf is a very much a social game, one that offers a common experience among complete strangers and immediately forges a friendship. Wear a Masters logo'd shirt to a party or a Pebble Beach hat to a barbecue and you immediately are identified as a golfer with a conversation starter to boot. I've probably had over 100 discussions about Pebble Beach in the last few years, often sharing how I did on 7 (easy par), 8 (greatest chip-in birdie EVER) and 18 (lucky to make bogey) while hearing countless stories of how others did on the course and those iconic holes. It can be a five minute conversation or a three hour talk. Golf can be almost as much fun recounting your round as it is actually playing it. And playing on one of the iconic courses of the world means you have completed a bucket list item that will make you relevant to any golf conversation.
I'm not saying that you play at Pebble Beach because it sets you up for your next dinner party. Nor am I saying that money is no object when it comes to golf. I am very much saying that some golf experiences have lasting value long after the final putt drops. Would a trip to Pebble Beach be worth the cost if it were a four or five hour experience that you'd soon forget? Absolutely not. But if you consider the lifetime enjoyment you'll get from that round, and pro rate the cost over the next few decades, you'll find incredible value there.
So consider certain rounds as more than 18 holes or a full day of golf - it's a lifetime of memories. And to borrow from our friends at Mastercard: That's priceless.
PGA of America Championships
Benton Harbor, Mich.
Sahalee Country Club
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club