Last year it was the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Apparently they dropped the National from the name because they’re unpatriotic! I’m guessing when #trump wins the election this year, “National” will have to be in every PGA Tour event name.
This week’s event is at one of the most famous courses in the world. Somewhere between San Francisco and LA, it’s the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Here’s what to watch for.
Here’s a little background music while you read:
Surprisingly Decent Field
Spieth, Day, Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Phil, and Bubba are all playing this week. I actually just sat here for a minute deciding whether or not I wanted to include fan favorite Patrick Reed in this list. I settled on not putting him in the original list of “top players”. Just mentioning him here, in a slightly diminished role would be enough.
Time for a more general point. A common thought about the PGA Tour is that anybody can win on a given week. This is true to some extent; You will see unproven winners pop up from time to time. But for the most part, the guys that win are really good, and consistently finish at the top of leaderboards. Bold prediction time, out of Spieth, Day, Sneds, DJ, and Walker, at least 4 out of the 5 will finish inside the top 25. Feel free to call me out if I’m wrong on that.
Just like the Career Builder a couple weeks ago, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is, wait for it, a Pro-Am! The difference between Career Builder and AT&T is that AT&T actually has famous people as their amateurs. Career Builder just had rich people. The AT&T has rich celebs, people you’d recognize.
This’ll actually be an issue even on Saturday. Usually telecasts of the first two days are smattering of players and shots, not really focusing on much in particular. Saturday rolls around and there are guys in the lead, and people moving up the leaderboard. Because of the 3 day cut however, the Saturday broadcast this week will be heavily focused on the celebs. The tee times for the amateurs are such that the most famous people are on Pebble Beach on Saturday, and they’re usually stopped after teeing off on 17 to do interviews.
Old man grumpy me is annoyed that the networks are going to play up the fact there are famous people playing in the tournament. More reasonable me realizes that it’s not the end of the world, and since this is the end of the Pro-Am tournaments for a year, I can suck it up and deal. Also, I’ll get to see Aaron!
Other notable celebs include, Jake Owen (if you were wondering why I had you listen to a Jake Owen song, it’s cause he’s playing), Jim Harbaugh, Bill Murray, Justin Timberlake (now I realize I could have put an N*SYNC song at the top. Oops), and Larry Fitzgerald.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
The main attraction of the week. The course you’ve played a million times on some golf video game for N64. Arguably the most recognizable course in the world (along with Augusta National) by people who haven’t stepped foot on the grounds. It’s the course that Tiger Won the US Open at by about 50 shots. It hosted the US Open in 2010, won by Graeme McDowell in a cardigan. You know the course, I don’t have to explain any more.
Of the three course rotation this week, Pebble is the only thing you can expect to see on tv.
Not Spyglass Hill
Even though you won’t see this course on tv at all, I’ll still give a little overview. Spyglass Hill is basically backwards from how you’d think every course should be designed. The first hole is a sweeping left par 5 with the ocean in the background. And the next few holes follow suit by having the ocean as a backdrop.
Imagine teeing off early in the morning, sun in the east, Pacific to the west, dew on the ground. It’s a beautiful day on the peninsula. You play those first few holes with the water, then start going inland. “Ok,” you think to yourself, “It’s pretty in the trees here, but I can’t wait to get back to where you can see the water! This course is on the coast and in general, all courses next to oceans end with holes on the water.” Nope. Wrong. After those first few holes with the great views, you’re tossed back into a forest where you never recover. I might have exaggerated that story a bit, but I do remember being confused why the ocean holes were first, and then the rest of the course being blah.
Pebble has it’s finishing holes on the water. Cypress Point, consistently ranked in the top 3 in the world (and also right around the corner from Pebble and Spyglass) is famed for not having it’s ocean holes until the final stretch. The beauty in the design, they say, is that the player knows the ocean holes are coming, and they’re forced to wait all ~14.5 holes until the ocean is in view.
Not Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course
I haven’t played here, so I can’t provide any insight about the routing of the course. But the description on the AT&T Championship website says there are plenty of oceanside holes. So good on you, MPCCSC. Too bad we won’t see you on the broadcast.