Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer of all time once said, if he had one more round of golf to play, it would be at Pebble Beach. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am gets underway on Thursday morning, and is probably the best Pro Am on the schedule. It usually includes celebrities playing along with the professionals for three of the four rounds.
The event was started in 1937 by Bing Crosby as a National ProAm, and was played at Rancho Santa Fe, California. After World War II the tournament was moved to the Monterey Peninsula, and renamed The Crosby Clam Bake. After Mr. Crosby’s death in 1977, the event continued to be run by the Crosby family until after the 1985 tournament, and was picked up by AT&T for the 1986 season when the Crosby name was dropped.
After the tournament was moved to Northern California, it was played on three different golf courses, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and the Monterey Penisula Country Club until 1966. The Monterey Peninsula Country Club was dropped, and Spy Glass Hills was added for the 1967 season. In 1991, the Cypress Point course was dropped because they would not admit an African-American member to the Country Club. Poppy Hills, was added, and remained intact until 2010 when the Monterey Peninsula was again added to the rotation.
I have attended several Professional Tournaments around the country, and this one is without doubt, the cream of the crop. If you like to watch golf at one of the most beautiful venues in the world, this is it. You can also watch celebrities(who some aren’t very good at golf) play along with the Pros, some of them are very good.
Of the three golf courses, Spy Glass Hill is the toughest. Pebble beach is next, with Monterey Peninsula being the easiest. Spy Glass is slightly longer than the rest, playing to 6868 yards. Pebble is 6816 yards, and Monterey is only 6253 yards. Mark O’Meara and Phil Mickelson both hold the record in this event with -20 scores. O’Meara has won this tournament five times, Phil Mickelson and Sam Snead won four each. Jack Nickalus, and announcer, Johnny Miller have won three titles each, with several golfers who have two victories. Tiger Woods won here in 2000, both the Pro Am, and the US Open.
Phil Mickelson, who won last week at Phoenix, is the 2012 defending champion. Phil finished at -17 under par, and beat Tiger Woods in one of the few head to head battles they have had. Tiger was still rebuilding his golf game, and Phil was in the middle of a good run where he lost in a playoff the following week at Riveria, to Bill Haas.
The meat of this golf course starts after the par 3 seventh hole, where you will see people hitting gap wedges to the 101 yard hole if there is no wind, and maybe a 6 iron if the wind is up. Eight, nine, and ten play along the ocean, providing breath taking views, and are very dangerous holes where the pros will be happy to escape with par.
The air on the Monterey Peninsula is very heavy this time of the year, and if the fog is prevalant, pros who normally hit their ball 310 yards plus, will struggle to get to 300 yards, so don’t let the length of the course fool you into thinking it is easy. The speed of the greens, and heavy air will tax the skill and patience of whoever wins the trophy, and winners share of the $5.6 Million Dollar purse on Sunday.
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