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Who Owns Pebble Beach Golf Course?

Getty Musician Huey Lewis talks to actor Clint Eastwood on the 18th tee box during the 3M Celebrity Challenge prior to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 10, 2016 in Pebble Beach, California.

The question about who owns the Pebble Beach Golf Course is a complicated one. The answer spans over four decades with the formation of the Pebble Beach Company. It involves various big pockets as far east as Japan and as far west as Hollywood.

According to the Pebble Beach website, Samuel Morse, a distant cousin of the inventor of the telegraph, founded the company and course in 1919. By the time of his death in 1969, the company was known as the Del Monte Properties Company.

It’s at this point Hollywood stepped up the plate with an almost literally galactic offer.

On March 30, 1977, Del Monte Properties Company reincorporated as Pebble Beach Corporation. Twentieth Century-Fox used its profits from its film Star Wars to buy Pebble Beach Corporation in May 1979. During this era, Marvin Davis (after purchasing Twentieth Century-Fox) completed development of The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay.

After this, ownership transitioned to Japanese real estate developer Minoru Isutani in 1990. According to the Chicago Tribune in June 1996, he was forced to sell at a big loss due to the American economic downturn of the early 1990s. It was at a time where several Japanese businessmen were trying to write off major investment losses.

In 1990, he bought the California championship golf course for $841 million. Isutani sold the property about 18 months later to two Japanese companies at a $340 million loss.

By 1999, Southern California stepped up to the plate for ownership. Hollywood actor/director Clint Eastwood, 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Chairman Peter Ueberroth, as well as golfer Arnold Palmer and others purchased the course for $820 million.

Per the Monterey County Weekly, the goal of the new ownership group was about course and resort improvement over strictly profit.

Eastwood himself said in a KSBW television interview that he and his partners didn”t buy Pebble Beach to make a profit. Even so, one wonders just how philanthropic actuaries and loan analysts at GE Pension Trust and Bank of America–which are participating in the purchase and financing–will remain. Aren”t their investors expecting a return on the loan or investment in Pebble Beach?

Although planned projects–including the Casa Palmero spa next to The Lodge at Pebble Beach, a proposed new golf course and the sale of 300 lots and condos if approved–will help increase the company”s annual cash flow to about $180 million, it”s still not enough to justify an $820 million price tag.

The Pebble Beach website states that their plan upon the initial investment was to “never again sell Pebble Beach Company to another ownership group.” While Eastwood hasn’t sold his share, he has sold his Pebble Beach estate, according to Golfworld.

Then there is this, Hacienda Este Madera, that is for sale in Pebble Beach, its list price $9.75 million. A loose translation for Hacienda Este Madera is the giveaway: House East Wood.

Yes, it belongs to Clint Eastwood, a long-time resident of the area and chairman of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

When not directing movies, Eastwood still makes frequent appearances at the Pro-Am, which still takes place at Pebble Beach and always attracts celebrities.

The question of ownership of the Pebble Beach Golf Course requires a bit of a history lesson, including Japanese investors and Clint Eastwood.