Thursday, December 9, 1999
Watchers of Monterey''s Cannery Row history debate know who Neal Hotelling is. He''s the guy who shows up at Monterey City Hall week after week, month after month, to defend the Row''s unique character at Historic Preservation Commission meetings, at Planning Commission meetings, at City Council meetings. But that''s just his "hobby."
Perhaps less well known is Neal Hotelling, director of corporate affairs for Pebble Beach Company, who works just as tirelessly defending Pebble''s corporate rights.
With the recent release of Pebble Beach Golf Links: The Official History, Hotelling''s two personas mesh to create what the author hopes will be the "definitive resource" of Pebble''s history.
The idea of doing such a book came to Hotelling in 1991. "I was working in the golf division," he says, "and I was amazed at how much we didn''t know about the history of Pebble Beach."
He started to research the book in hopes of convincing his employer to sponsor the effort. Six years later, Hotelling signed a book deal with Sleeping Bear Press and Pebble Beach Company. Now, after eight years of exhaustive research, Hotelling has produced the first-ever comprehensive history of Pebble Beach and the game of golf on the Peninsula.
Hotelling is not a historian by trade, but by passion. His study of local history began some years ago when his wife, Bettina, suggested the couple find something to do together. They attended a Steinbeck lecture, an event that kicked of a steadfast crusade to preserve what''s left of historic Cannery Row--probably not what Mrs. Hotelling had in mind at the time.
"I have a tendency toward obsession," says Neal.
While his "obsession" for Cannery Row history may seem a world away from Pebble Beach, Hotelling says those two worlds are more intertwined than one might think. For instance, on more than one occasion, Pebble founder Samuel Morse sued the canneries for the stench wafting across the bay. And John Steinbeck himself courted his third and final wife in the Lodge''s Tap Room.
Hotelling''s book is sprinkled with similar anecdotes involving the eclectic mix of characters--Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, Bobby Jones, and, of course, Bing Crosby--that have graced the golf links over the years. In the course of his research, Hotelling also managed to dispel a few myths, like who really lengthened the 18th hole, and where the filming of National Velvet actually occurred.
Each tale woven by Hotelling is beautifully illustrated by either historical photographs or by the stunning photos of renowned golf course photographer Joann Dost, herself a former professional golfer.
Having now authored a published history, is Hotelling finally a confirmed, bona fide historian? "I think I''m a legitimate historian," he laughs. "Some people will accept that, some people won''t."
Pebble Beach Golf Links: The official History
Photography by Joann Dost
1999, Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, Michigan
(CR) 1999 Pebble Beach Company
Excerpts not available.