Almost three weeks ago, I got to play renowned Pebble Beach for the first time. It actually exceeded my expectations, and given this pristine place’s reputation which is always cloaked in superlatives, I’ve been hesitant to attempt to capture my experience in a mere blog post. But I need and want to, and I can’t put it off any longer given that the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is this week… So, here goes.

Pebble Beach #7Like every golfer every where, I had heard how special Pebble is. I practically held it as a solemn duty that as a golfer, I had to play it at least once before I die. But on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008, I experienced it; and now I can only look forward with delight to any opportunity to go back.

The natural beauty of the course is mind-blowing in its own right. The test of golf is absolutely first rate. And, it’s also amazing when a much bally-hooed experience actually lives up to its hype.

For me, “spectacular” is an understatement, except with regard to the weather. It was a breath-taking, beautiful day. I’ve been lucky enough to play quite a few world class, very beautiful golf courses–and anyone can quibble about anything from the small, tough greens to whatever–but Pebble Beach Golf Links was the most beautiful that I have ever played by a wide margin.

We played early morning, third group off, and as we turned with the course toward the ocean on #3, I was caught a bit by surprise. Frankly, I didn’t realize that so much of this track is nestled right along the ocean. I really woke up to that fact on #4 when the first of many shots that faded toward the ocean disappeared over a cliff next to the green. Oh well.

And then, after the charming par 3 #5, as we walked down the 6th fairway making our way out onto a peninsula that is only Pebble Beach golf course and ocean cliffs. I was overcome with the experience of having died and gone to golfer heaven. “Am I really here?” “Is this really real?” “Does it get any better than this?” I am so lucky! Not only was I playing on the most beautiful golf course I’ve ever seen, breathing the lush ocean air (and dancing on morning sunshine), but I was also amazed that this piece of precious real estate has been preserved as such a pristine golfing haven. Mother Nature literally cradles much of this course (I especially fell in love with the #5 thru #8 peninsula) in what appears to me to be one of the most extraordinary confirmations of the unity between Spirit and golf.

I did have some golfing success on #6 with a seven-wood that found the green (and in a few other spots… I shot a 45 on the front), but it really was a day that was not about the score. I was just plain happy to be there (and that counts for a lot). I never really got used to the speed and slope of the greens and the necessary adjustments for the pull of the ocean, but my enthusiasm for this adventure never waned. For example, I ended up shouting “I won the US Open!” after holing out on #18 with a divine 99.

Pebble reinforced for me how much more important counting my blessings is when compared to counting my silly golf shots (no matter how well-executed). I plan to remember to keep doing that. (First things first.)

It was a sublimely Pebble-icious experience. Thank you, golf gods. I am blessed.