Pine Nuts: The 7th at Pebble |

Pine Nuts: The 7th at Pebble

The U.S. Open returned to Pebble Beach this year and all the talk was about the par-three cliffside 7th hole, a charming peninsula that sticks out into the ocean 100 yards below the tee box, and looks ever so inviting — looks that are deceiving.

With a stiff onshore breeze you might want to tee off with a three iron. With no wind, which is rare, you might want a wedge.

I’m not a golfer, but I have played the world’s most beautiful hole, the 7th at Pebble. A round of golf was part of my remuneration for speaking to a group there once, and with a greens fee of $550 what was a boy to say? So off I went with my rented clubs, rented shoes, and a bourbon traveler …

The first six holes were really hard. I ran out of balls and was about to head for the clubhouse when a course marshal came along in his cart and asked how I was doing. I was embarrassed to confess that I had lost all my balls, but I fessed up and he gave me another sleeve, which got me to the 7th.

Well, I never saw the likes of it for sheer beauty. I just stood there in awe, wagging my head at the scenic splendor, and suddenly channeling Jack Nicklaus, who won the first U.S. Open at Pebble back in 1972 by birdying that same 7th with a seven iron. So I reached into my bag, pulled out my trusty seven, took a swig from my traveler, and teed up my ball …

As I was playing alone, I don’t have a witness to verify what happened next, so you will have to take my word for it …

I took the most relaxed swing anybody has taken since Bing Crosby played Pebble himself. My ball flew off the tee and headed skyward before arcing and floating onto the green below, where it skipped twice before coming to rest a foot from the pin. I jumped into the air and shouted, “That’s a gimee! Burn my clothes! I’m done! Then I turned and shouted to the crowd that wasn’t there, “Please hold your applause!”

I waltzed down to the green jaunty-jolly, picked up my ball, took a long, slow bow, and headed back up the steep slope toward the clubhouse to brag to anyone who would listen to me, that I had just birdied the 7th.

As it turned out I could not find anybody who would listen to me, but Dave Brubeck’s son was playing piano in the lobby, so I took a seat in an overstuffed chair and reveled in the beautiful music, the beautiful 7th, and my beautiful shot.

I have to believe there is nothing so gratifying in all of sport as a good golf shot on the 7th at Pebble.

For this non-golfer it topped the Ironman Triathlon, the Boston Marathon, and beating a Red Cross nurse in Ping-Pong. Yes, for one moment in time, I was Jack Nicklaus …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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