News & Opinion | June 17, 2019 9:39 am

How Clint Eastwood, Arnold Palmer and a Former MLB Commissioner Saved Pebble Beach

"Out focus has been on the preservation of this natural treasure in an economically sound manner"

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach will host a number of important upcoming tournaments. (Joann Dost)

Pebble Beach was available for purchase 20 years ago. The iconic piece of American real estate and home of the U.S. Open golf championship shuffled through hands multiple times before so, fearing what could happen if a large corporation scooped it up just to sell it off again, former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth stepped in.

“I was worried that a major American company would throw a great big number at it and then once they owned it, figure out an exit strategy five years later,” Ueberroth told The Wall Street Journal. “It just seemed to me this isn’t a place that should be shuffled around.”

The former baseball head assembled a team of high-powered, well-known investors to take the beach permanently off the auction chopping block that included actor and director Clint Eastwood, the late, great Arnold Palmer and a former United Airlines chief executive, Richard Ferris. Together, they amassed an $820 million offer — one that was lower than other figures thrown at the piece of land but was accepted, regardless.

The U.S. Golf Association took note and helped further solidified Pebble Beach as a site of professional golf play for years to come by announcing the return of the U.S. Open in 2019, “before the previous Open here in 2010 had even been played,” The Journal noted. It will also be the site of the first U.S. Women’s Open in 2023 and another U.S. Open in 2027.

“Some people would have bought it and, if they had hedge fund money or whatever, would have to show a return,” Ferris said. “Out focus has been on the preservation of this natural treasure in an economically sound manner.”

The Pebble Beach Company, which operates the course and its hotels, agreed with environmental regulators to leave more than 635 acres of forestland it owns undeveloped or disturbed.

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