Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the greatest golf courses on the planet, and it's particularly special because they public can play it. With eight holes of the golf course playing right alongside the Monterey Peninsula's edge with the Pacific Ocean (via Carmel Bay), Pebble Beach offers some of the most spectacular golf views in the world.
However, with ocean views comes ocean spray. There are thousands of golfers who play Pebble Beach every year in myriad conditions, from sparkling, sunny days to those in fierce wind and sideways rain. And without a ton of margin for error to miss, plenty of recreational golfers occasionally hit their golf balls into the ocean water.
How many golf balls are hit in the ocean at Pebble Beach Golf Links each year?
The Pebble Beach Golf Company doesn't keep track, and it'd be impossible to enumerate an exact figure. Besides having a minder with each group, how would they even be able to police that kind of thing?
However, teenager Alex Weber has collected more than 35,000 golf balls from the depths of Stillwater Cove, in which balls from Pebble Beach golfers would find the ocean. Weber and friends have been diving in Monterey Bay in an effort to clean up the ocean floor in and around the Pebble Beach area, which includes Cypress Point Club and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, which are both along the peninsula, too. The golf balls circulate with the tide, so for every golf ball the teens recover from the ocean floor -- in various states of degradation -- another ball is often swept in to take its place.
There are approximately 60,000 rounds of golf played each year on Pebble Beach Golf Links. It's reasonable to think golfers can lose, on average, a ball per round. (Some way more, some lose none.) So, it's reasonable to assume some 60,000 golf balls find the bay water each year. Add in that Pebble Beach turns 100 years old in 2019, and there have likely been millions of golf balls lost off the Monterey peninsula over a century.
With modern golf balls made from polymers and microplastics that can degrade and break down over years, cleaning up these golf balls is of utmost importance. Pebble Beach Golf Company works with private divers to clean up the waters, and they support government-led and other environmental efforts to do so. However, there's no denying Pebble Beach was open for a half-century before the modern environmentalism movement began. The best that can be done at Pebble or any ocean-edging golf course is to consistently wade into the waters and pull out as many golf balls as possible.