Thursday, September 22, 2005
According to Mark Stillwell, PBC executive vice president, the company is currently preparing to resubmit a proposal to build two seawalls at the base of the coastal bluff to protect the fifth tee and fifth green of the famous Pebble Beach golf course, using concrete reinforced with steel tiebacks and artificial stone fascia.
PBC’s initial proposal was withdrawn last spring at the Coastal Commission’s request after questions were raised regarding trail access and the nature of the construction. The commission also wanted an opportunity to review similar coastal erosion projects on other golf courses. PBC does, however, have a second proposal submitted to stabilize some emergency repairs made to the famed 18th green last winter.
“We’re waiting on the commission to resubmit a proposal for the Fifth Hole Project,” Stillwell says. “And we’re waiting for a decision on the 18th hole. We’ve asked to make permanent the temporary work we did last winter. There’s a little bit of erosion on the 18th. We just put in a little temporary plywood wall that we covered with a rock facing. It’s not a permanent structure—just designed to get us through a few winters.”
The Coastal Commission approved the temporary work to the 18th hole last winter, but has been hesitant to grant the Pebble Beach Company clearance to build along the fifth hole, which is located along the bluff between Stillwater Cove Pier and Arrowhead Point.
The Coastal Commission’s Monterey Bay office reports that there may have been some miscommunication. The commission says it asked the Pebble Beach Company to address “16 or 17” concerns before its application for the work on the 18th hole can be considered complete.
As for the fifth hole proposal, a commission staffer says PBC may be waiting for clarification, but ought to be “aware of the issues” which need to be addressed before their proposal has any chance of being approved.
Stillwell clearly belives that can be accomplished.
“These coastal walls are nothing new, they’ve been done on golf courses, and the new versions are well-camouflaged—they blend in with natural shoreline,” Stillwell says. “The Pebble Beach Golf Links course is ranked the number one public golf course in the nation. It’s a tremendous asset to the area and our company. It needs to be protected.”
Over the years the PBC has done work to eliminate erosion on holes nine, 10, 17 and 18 at the Golf Links through the use of steel and concrete reinforcements made to look like natural coastline.
The 187-yard, par three fifth hole was added to the course relatively recently, as its original owners refused to sell until 1988. The Pebble Beach Company purchased the five acres of coastal land for roughly $15 million and asked former US Open Champion Jack Nicklaus to redesign the hole.
Environmental groups such as the Surfrider Foundation are opposed to the construction of sea walls, as their impact are widely believed to contribute to both passive and active erosion.