The Pebble Beach Company recently unveiled its new Visitor’s Center, which is designed to share the resort’s storied 100-year history to both golfers and the two million day visitors that venture onto the public golf course each year.

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A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility at Pebble Beach Golf Links not only marked its official grand opening but also symbolized the formal kick-off of the resort’s 2019 Centennial Celebration. That coincides with the upcoming 119th U.S. Open Championship in June.

About 200 guests including Pebble Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Peninsula city officials perused the new 8,000-square-foot center located across from the Pebble Beach Lodge where a Bank of the West and a Wells Fargo used to be. Both banks’ leases expired and the businesses didn’t want to renew them so both buildings were connected with the creation of the new center in mind. While planning began long before, construction on the facility was completed in March of this year. 

For the day visitors to the area who spend anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours here, “We’ve never really had a place for them to start their visit of the whole lodge and the Pebble Beach golf course area,” said Pebble Beach CEO Bill Perocchi. “Having a place where we can tell the tourists the wonderful history of our company, our relationship with the USGA and all the championships we’ve hosted is important.”

All told, the new center itself, its restrooms along with the newly installed parking for buses and cars and overall infrastructure cost about $10 million, according to Perocchi, who said the upgrades and center had been two years in the making. The project’s lead architect was Philip Hardoin while the general contractor was Kenny Rudisill.

“With 75 percent of visitors coming by car and 25 percent by bus, parking has been a problem,” Perocchi told those present at the grand opening including those directly related to the Visitor Center’s creation. “Restrooms are always an issue. “Most important of all, we never had a place before where we could highlight the history of our resort.”

Inside, the new facility features 25 exhibits created by Steve Kasper and Tom Tsubota, many of which are ceiling to floor display walls with iconic scenes from the resort’s history. As visitors enter the center to the left is a photographic timeline of the resort’s past with one portion dedicated to how the Hotel Del Monte led to the formation of Pebble Beach. Samuel F.B. Morse’s golf vision is also featured.

The plexiglass wall displays also featured snapshots of the resort’s involvement with The U.S. Open Championship with iconic photos of Tiger Woods and Tom Watson holding up their championship trophies. An entire photographic panel featuring a life-size Phil Mickelson lists all the Pebble Beach Pro-Am champions since 1937 while another focuses on “The King” Arnold Palmer. Still, others showcase the resort’s celebrity and presidential history with one dedicated to Clint Eastwood dressed in the classic Western garb that marked many of his roles. One acknowledged the 15 presidents that have visited the golf links.

Perocchi said he gave Eastwood a tour last week of the new facility that docents will staff from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and he loved it.

There’s also a retail section and a large circular topographic relief map with numbered locations of the 17-Mile Drive. Bordering the round display are touch screens that feature Pebble Beach’s dining, retail, golf and hotel choices with the swipe of a finger.

Improvements have been made outside the center too with expanded parking for both cars and buses and a clearer pedestrian path of travel. A town center/picnic area has also been created.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, Perocchi acknowledged Morse’s grandson Charles Osborne and his great-granddaughter Mary Schley who were present. The company CEO also acknowledged a display showing the history of Pebble Beach’s ownership that at one time had 20thCentury Fox using its profits from its blockbuster hit “Star Wars” to buy a share of the famed resort.

“We’ve had seven ownership groups in our 100-year history,” said Perocchi, noting its current ownership led by Peter Ueberroth and its 150 partners as its longest tenured one.

At last week’s special preview of the new facility, there were also some other big announcements.  RJ Harper, one of the golf industry’s most respected professionals and resort executives who died a year ago from pancreatic cancer, has been named the 2019 U.S. Open’s honorary general chairman.

Other course improvements related to the upcoming 2019 U.S. Open including green restorations, new tee boxes and room renovations. The economic impact of the event is estimated to be $175 million.

 

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