Who owns Pebble Beach golf course? All you need to know

Pebble Beach golf course

The elusive Pebble Beach golf course is a part of the many assets owned by Pebble Beach Company that also operates three hotels, a spa at the resort, and numerous restaurants on the California coast. It was built under the management of the company’s founder, Samuel Morse, in 1919.

For fifty years until his passing in 1969, Morse retained ownership of his company. However, the following three decades witnessed numerous changes in its owners ranging from the Hollywood studio Twentieth Century Fox to Japanese investors.

The turn of the century in 1999 came with new development for the Pebble Beach Golf Links. A star-studded investment group offered to acquire the company from its then owner, The Lone Cypress Company, with the long-term prospect of “never again sell[ing] Pebble Beach Company to another ownership group”.

Investment group helmed by Peter Ueberroth, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Palmer, and Richard Ferris acquired the Pebble Beach golf course in 1999

Peter Ueberroth, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Palmer, and Richard Ferris
Arnold Palmer, Dick Ferris, Peter Ueberroth, and Clint Eastwood (Photo – PGA Tour)

The Pebble Beach golf resort was acquired from The Lone Cypress Company (owned by the Japanese Sumitomo Bank and Taiheiyo Club) by a distinguished investment group comprising actor/director Clint Eastwood, golfer Arnold Plamer, former commissioner of Major League Baseball Peter Ueberroth, and the late former CEO of United Airlines Richard Ferris in 1999.

“We think it’s the best golfing place on the globe. I’ve been lucky enough to have played there over the last 40 years,” Ueberroth told Los Angeles Times in 1999 after negotiations to buy the golf course were underway.

While other buyers bid more money, going as high as $1 billion, Ueberroth’s investment group offered its own perks: celebrity connection, preservation of the course, and a short time to close the deal.

Thus, with contributions from 132 investors, the ownership deal with The Lone Cypress Company was valued at $820 million and closed in ten days, ending a decade-long reign of Japanese investors. The shares were worth a reported $2 million each at the time of the sale and the value has now quadrupled to $8 million to $9 million today, states The GOLF Magazine.

“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. It just seemed to me this isn’t a place that should be shuffled around,” Ueberroth told The Wall Street Journal, affirming that the group intended to retain the ownership of the course for all time to come and preserve its history.

According to Monterey County Weekly, Eastwood mentioned in a KSBW interview that making a profit was not the motive behind buying Pebble Beach. Likewise, Richard Ferris had expressed a similar sentiment to The Wall Street Journal, saying;

“Some people would have bought it and, if they had hedge-fund money or whatever, would have to show a return. Our focus has been on the preservation of this natural treasure in an economically sound manner. I would say we are patient.”

Pebble Beach Company CEO Bill Perocchi stepped down from the post in 2021 following an extensive reign of the company for 22 years

Bill Perocchi
Bill Perocchi (Photo By – Dom Furore/Golfdigest)

Bill Perocchi had been serving as the CEO of the Pebble Beach company since 1999. In an interview with KSBW, Perocchi states that he had initially intended to stay as the CEO of Pebble Beach for a short duration and had not foreseen his reign of 22 years.

Besides, Perocchi had played an influential part in the 1999 acquisition of Pebble Beach, as Richard Ferris and Peter Ueberroth told Golf Digest;

“Bill was instrumental in helping us purchase Pebble Beach 22 years ago, and has had tremendous success as CEO since then. He is widely respected by our ownership group, community, and employees. We are grateful for Bill’s leadership, determination, and vision during his tenure.”

Perocchi’s two-decades-long contribution to the Pebble Beach company is seen in its massive capital improvement worth $500 million. This includes infrastructure development such as a cutting-edge practice facility, a new visitors center, and room renovations at the Pebble Beach lodge.

Moreover, the golf course witnessed three U.S. Opens in 2000, 2010, and 2019, and two U.S. Amateurs in 1999 and 2018 under Perocchi’s management.

He is also lauded for guiding the company through economic crises following monumental events in modern-day history including the 9/11 repercussions, the recession of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking about the effects of a pandemic on Pebble Beach’s economy, he told KSBW;

“It was one of the most difficult years of my life. We have 1,700 employees and you’re worried about them and their families. How they can pay their rent, put food on the table. At one point in time, we only had 300 employees working out of the 1,700. So, we tried to do everything we could for our employees.”

Long-standing president David Stivers took over the reins as CEO of Pebble Beach following Perocchi’s retirement

David Stivers
David Stivers in the Lodge lobby (Photo – Pebblebeach.com)

After Perochhi’s effective retirement from the post on July 1, 2021, he was succeeded by their long-standing president David Stivers, who has also been involved in the company since 1999.

“David has played an important role in many areas of our business over the past 21 years. He has been my partner throughout this journey, and I know the Company will be in very good hands under his leadership,” Perochhi told Golf Digest.

Nonetheless, Perochhi’s involvement in the company continues as he remains the co-chair of the board of directors. Co-chairman Brian Ferris and Heidi Ueberroth also said;

“As our next CEO, David brings a deep understanding of Pebble Beach’s business and a keen mind and passion to lead the effort to capitalize on the future opportunities available to our world-class resort.”

Stivers told Monterey Herald that his immediate strategy is to steer Pebble Beach Company through the pandemic. His long-term focus is to reconsider the pre-pandemic five-year strategic plan readied by the company. He said;

“[We will] look at each one of those opportunities and see which ones we think make the most sense for us moving forward. One of our biggest and most important values is to keep improving.”

He also acknowledged Perocchi’s success over the years as CEO and stated that he plans on following in his footsteps and building upon what was achieved, saying;

“[Perocchi] is probably the smartest guy in the room all the time, he’s hard-working, he’s passionate, he’s committed, but probably the most important thing about Bill is that he has a tremendous amount of empathy…In my opinion, the biggest reason for his success is that he really cares about people.”