'Let There be Pebble' by Zachary Michael Jack

By: Bob Spiwak

When this book came to my attention my initial reaction was, "Oh, another Pebble Beach story slobbering wonder and awe." By the second chapter I was awestruck by the author's command of the English language and drawn in by the first hints that, while the book centers on the 2010 U.S. Open, it is more about the Carmel area, its inhabitants peripheral or even uninvolved with golf, and the history of that part of the Monterey Peninsula.

I have played Poppy Hills, got rained out at Spanish Bay and walked the 18th at Pebble Beach. Housed in a cottage two blocks from then-mayor Clint Eastwood's place for a couple of days and nights, I really did not get the feel of the place, other than that from old friend Ray March, ex-editor of the Carmel Pinecone newspaper. The iconoclastic March is "ex" because he was fired, as Google puts it, "for muckraking."

Truth is, March exposed some bedbugs on Pebble Beach's satin sheets. Ray left his home in Carmel Valley and today is the editor of the Modoc, Calif., newspaper, taking him from "heaven" to the desert.

Jack never forgets the history of the Carmel area. Interspersed are interesting facts, my favorite being that a permit is required for women who wish to wear high heels. This is because of the uneven sidewalks and liability of a town hard by a golf course and one with 50 percent occupancy most of the year. The homes go for well over $5 million.

The book is so variegated that even the chapter headings at the beginning have multiple topics. Page 1: "Then God Created the Heavens and the Earth and Carmel-By-The-Sea, and God Said 'Let There Be Pebble.' "

Page 142, Chapter 9: "Links, Love and Lust in the Garden of Eastwood." Outlaw Jose Wales' marriages, mayoral stint and other Clint-able tidbits are included in a section that moves seamlessly in many directions.

Jack interviews celebrities, including movie stars - Bill Murray near the beginning; captains of industry or money - such as Charles Schwab whose home is worth about $15 million; architect Rees Jones, who set up the course for the Open and controversially altered the eighth green.

The list goes on and on, but Jack never forgets Monterey founder Samual Morse or Pebble Beach's architect, Jack Neville. He highlights the glory days of the "Crosby Clambake," from which emanated the PGA Tour's annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

In short, there are few during U.S. Open week with whom the author has not spoken, from the lady in the coffee shop to the top golfers in the world. It is a trivia buff's paradise because it covers so much ground over so many areas.

Speaking of trivia, for the U.S. Open all the sand in the bunkers came from the peninsula's beaches so there wouldn't be any contrast in the overhead blimp shots on television.

"Let There Be Pebble," by Zachary Michael Jack, 2011, University of Nebraska Press $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8032-7.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.