The Links at Spanish Bay

The Links at Spanish Bay opened in 1987, and it quickly garnered notoriety. The layout, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, Tom Watson and former USGA president Sandy Tatum on the site of a former sand mine, has remained mostly untouched until now.

Pebble Beach Resorts announced on Tuesday that The Links at Spanish Bay will undergo a renovation by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner’s team.

“The Links at Spanish Bay possesses nearly every raw element you’d want in a golf course, from expansive ocean views to rolling, sandy terrain,” Hanse said. “With these natural attributes already in place, our team will have a significant head start on delivering a final product that will be in the top echelon of ‘must play’ courses.”

When Spanish Bay opened, Pebble Beach Resorts dubbed the course as “America’s first links golf experience.” Ron Whitten wrote at the time that Spanish Bay wasn’t a totally authentic links — pointing to a handful of greens being elevated. Tatum took issue with Whitten’s assessment, but it’s safe to say Hanse and Wagner will aim to transform the course back to its roots, playing to the incredible sand-based topography overlooking 17-Mile Drive that the course sits on. Pebble Beach officials say there’s no timeline yet for when work might begin.

Hanse and Wagner have received recognition and praise in recent years for their restorations of numerous major championship venues, including Winged Foot, The Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Oakland Hills, Oakmont and Baltusrol, among many others. Yet it’s their 2018 redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 that may be most like their task at Spanish Bay. After many alterations by various architects, Pinehurst No. 4 struggled to find its own identity in the shadow of the famed No. 2 course until Hanse and Wagner re-energised the course with the sand-and-pine characteristics the region is known for.