Then there was the wildlife. On the very first day a spectator got trampled by a frightened deer at the 2nd hole. The graceful animal leaped out of the woods, took fright at the sight of people, if not the USGA rough, whirled and pranced right over a poor man. It is said the deer in his confusion did a little dance step on the man's head and then found his way back into the trees. The man was not seriously hurt.
Overall, Pebble Beach as an Open venue combined two atmospheres. There on the sea with the wind and changing weather and the high rough, it had much the character of the British Open. But at the same time, being so close to Carmel's Dutch doors and overquaint restaurants and bars and galleries, there was a sense of a championship being staged at a rich man's Disney World.
At the course itself, the Del Monte Lodge had a stately look, one that it never has during the Crosby. There were candy-striped tents and little white picket fences sealing off the insiders—the committeemen, contestants, press and sponsors—from the hordes. The USGA must have loved Pebble for a number of reasons. Not many Opens have been held where the committee people could stroll out their front doors and see the 18th fairway by an ocean; and where, also, they could take a short drive and play golf themselves at Cypress Point or Spyglass Hill.
For all of the setting's advantages, though, Pebble Beach turned out to be a not-so-wonderful place at which to watch a championship. By the very nature of its design, Pebble Beach is fine for TV—two dozen well-placed cameras can cover virtually the whole course—but a pretty awful spot for spectators. No fewer than 12 holes could be galleried only on one side of the fairway because of oceans and private homes and such things. Also, because Pebble's greens for the most part are slightly elevated, only the first arrivals behind the ropes could see the roll of a putt. Next time—and there will certainly be more Opens at Pebble Beach—the USGA will probably relent and erect bleachers around the course so that everyone can better view all of those double bogeys and albatrosses.
There were specific reasons for some of the funniest scores ever posted in a major championship. The four basic ones were water, sand, grass and wind. Water, or rather the Pacific Ocean, was a factor on seven holes—the 6th through the 10th and then the 17th and 18th. Sand and the rough and the wind were factors on all 18.
The reason sand was such a problem is that the USGA filled the bunkers with loads of the stuff from Monterey beaches and then fluffed it all up. Shots dropping down into the bunkers plugged in. It was a miracle when anybody was able to get down from a trap in two.
The rough was not the most brutal the pros have ever encountered in an Open, but it might have been the toughest since Olympic back in 1955, again in northern California, where the grass in the rough is thick and lends to "cover" the ball. What the USGA did for—or against—Pebble Beach was take away a lot of driving areas the pros had been used to in the Crosby, forcing them to be more accurate.
Then there was the wind. It never blew wildly, as it sometimes does on, say, one day of the Crosby each year, but it swirled consistently throughout the four days—and from a totally different direction than in January. What this did was make Pebble a new course to the pros. For example, the Open wind helped on the rugged water holes, Pebble's own Amen Corner of the 8th, 9th and 10th, except for that odd moment Nicklaus suffered through on Sunday, but it hurt on the inland "coming home" holes of the 13th through the 16th.
The primary example was the 555-yard par-5 14th, normally a birdie hole during the Crosby. It was a monster at the Open. A double dogleg to the right with a roguishly bunkered green and a tee shot into the wind, it became not only a nonbirdie hole but practically a nonpar hole. Any pro who hit a Crosby-type tee shot would have needed two slashing sand wedges just to get back to the fairway.
All of these things turned Pebble Beach's back nine into the orneriest challenge most of the pros had ever seen. Their scoring reflected the fact. Players of high reputation were absolutely embarrassed. There were more nines in the 40s than there were in the 30s.