Spyglass Hill is a true bucket-list experience

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PGA.com
Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach, Calif., is a breathtaking course that features -- arguably -- the best five opening holes in golf.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 | 2:19 p.m.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Spyglass Hill is one of the greatest golf experiences you will ever find.
 
Nestled along the breathtaking Pacific coast on the Monterey Peninsula, the par-72 Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design is one you'll never forget.
 
In 2018, Spyglass Hill, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, joined Pebble Beach Golf Links as a host course for the U.S. Amateur Championship — the second time since 1999.
 
The course has also been a part of the rotation for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 1967.
 
 
And as if the golf itself weren't spectacular enough, you'll be blown away by the wildlife you encounter throughout the course.
 
We had the chance to tee it up at this gem recently and it was amazing from start to finish.
 
Spyglass gives you a little bit of everything. You spend the first five holes staring out at the Pacific Ocean -- the most scenic first five holes on any course I've ever played. 
 
With hole names inspired by the classic novel Treasure Island, Spyglass Hill challenges even the most skilled players, and is an absolute must for the accomplished golfer looking to test his or her skills in a championship setting.
 
Arguably the coolest stretch of holes you'll find anywhere, are holes 3-5 at Spyglass.
 
The par-3 third hole, known as "The Black Spot," is a downhill, 172-yarder. The backdrop is jaw-dropping, as you watch the waves ride toward you. With the wind howling, this tee shot could call for virtually any iron in the bag depending on which direction it's blowing.
 
The par-4 fourth hole, "Blind Pew," is the signature hole at Spyglass and, arguably, the coolest hole I've ever played. 
 
From the tee, the hole is a dogleg left. The entire left side of the hole is rugged before dropping off into the ocean. I was fortunate to hit a perfect drive here. And from the middle of the fairway, it looked like the green was the size of a hula-hoop.
 
 

 
But it was just deceptive and a great hole design. I hit what I believed to be a decent approach. As I made my way closer to the green, however, I was stunned to see how long -- and narrow -- the green actually was. It was an element you couldn't even fathom from back in the fairway. 
 
 
"Bird Rock" -- the 197-yard, par-3 fifth (which we played at 145 yards) -- is another stunner. The green sits up on a perch with bunkers surrounding and inviting any misstep off the tee. Once you're up on the green, it's just more spectacular views of the ocean.
 
 
When you hit the 446-yard sixth -- "Israel Hands" -- it's like you've stepped onto a new golf course. Suddenly you're headed away from the ocean, away from the links-style look and into a pristine forest setting with towering trees that line the fairways. 
 
As you carve your way through those holes, deer roam freely, adding to the fairyland feel. 
 
 
Our entire group spent most of the afternoon shaking our heads at the beauty of Spyglass Hill.
 
"Skeleton Island" -- the par-3 12th hole -- is 178 yards straight downhill with a pond guarding the left side. 
 
 
No. 14 -- "Long John Silver" -- is the final par 5 on the course. At 560 yards, it's a three-shot par 5, no doubt. The third shot in -- especially if on the left side of the fairway -- gives you an incredible vantage point of the green that just looks like a beautiful painting with a small pond guarding the front right and bunkers behind. 
 
The 130-yard 15th -- "Jim Hawkins" -- is such a cool little complement to the 14th. The tiny par 3 is one of the only breathers you get on the back side, but the small pond that fronts the green and goes to the right with the bunkers in the back will keep you on your toes.
 
The 408-yard, par-4 18th -- "Spyglass" -- is such a terrific closing hole. It's a straightforward hole with an elevated green. The wind will play tricks with your approach, so you're going to want at least a club more when you reach here.
 
 
And an awesome little touch when you finish... As you're getting ready to head back to your car, one of the Spyglass hospitality workers hands you a beautiful, silver bag tag as a memento to remember your round.
 
If you're looking for great golf in Monterey, Spyglass Hill is simply one of the best there is -- anywhere.  
 
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.