Near the end of the West Coast Swing, the Tour comes back to California after a week of debauchery in the desert. But this is NoCal, Carmel Bay, the Monterrey Peninsula and some of the most expensive Golf real estate in the country. 5 ‘Dawgs will get their celebrity on, and hopefully their golf too.
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links, 6,816 yards, par 72 is the main course, and used exclusively in the final round. Spyglass Hill GC (6,953/72) and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore course (6,958/71) also are used in the first three days of pro-am play.
Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth. Pretty much a wire-to-wire victory, and no one got closer than 3 strokes over the weekend. He was dialed in, and he showed it. But he missed the cut last week in Phoenix and his putter was… balky.
Fun Fact: This is the old Bing Crosby Celebrity Clam Bake, where Hollywood used to come north in droves, play golf during the day and hang around on the beach all night (that was the 1950’s though).
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
Former ‘Dawgs in the Field (Five): Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Bubba Watson, Keith Mitchell.
We are nearing the end of the West Coast Swing, and the end of the celebrity pro-am tournaments. But it is capped off in style, with this week’s Pebble Beach Celebrity Pro-Am. This is the one that real A-listers, or reasonable facsimilies, come out to play and actually beg for an invite. A few names you might recognize:
Professional athletes Larry Fitzgerald, Wayne Gretzky, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Alex Smith, and Steve Young. And actors/entertainers like Carson Daly, Josh Duhamel, Huey Lewis, and Chris O’Donnell. Then others like Darius Rucker, Larry the Cable Guy, and Toby Keith.
As noted above, 3 courses are used the first three days because of the number of amateurs playing alongside the pros. That many golfers would take forever to complete a round, so they spread them out to allow everyone to sample each course and to keep it on schedule. The pros are playing for both individual placement as well as their amateur partner team placement. Only a handful of times has a pro won both the professional and team aspect in the same year. And both tourney’s have a cut after the 3rd round, not the 2nd round. The final round is playing solely on the Pebble Beach course.
The courses are good, but this tournament has mixed up the rotation over its long history. Cypress Point, Poppy Hills, and Spanish Bay have been used in years past. But they’ve ironed out all the kinks, and tournament director emeritus Clint Eastwood (seriously, Clint Eastwood) has settled on the three named above, with Pebble Beach being the crowning jewel. In case you don’t know, Pebble Beach is rated one of the top courses in the country, and literally plays alongside blue water for most of its length. It is shorter than most courses, but has tricky elevation changes, plenty of well-placed trees, undulating greens, and the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. Scenic yes, but also pretty tough. And worth it to see in person or on TV.
As most of our former ‘Dawgs live on the right side of the United States, few of them are going to travel to play every week in these West Coast tournaments. Not to mention that many of these are “quirky” in either the style of play (desert, resort-style target golf), or the tournament set-up (pro-ams predominant, slow play, raucous crowds). So this week there are only five worth cheering for, and it is an “invitational” so certain criteria must be met. Here are the former ‘Dawgs and the amateur teammate.
Chris Kirk. Playing with Kernen. I think this means Joe Kernen of CNBC television network.
Kevin Kisner. Playing with Charles Kelley. Apparently Kelley is a country singer, and I know Kiz does like his country music.
Russell Henley. Playing with Baier. This looks to be Bret Baier of the Fox News television network.
Bubba Watson. Playing with Lee Styslinger III. Styslinger is the Chairman and CEO of Altec, Inc. So not a celebrity, but a big money guy.
Keith Mitchell. Playing with Larry the Cable Guy. I will not comment further here.
So that’s what we’ve got this week. It will be a mixture of good golf on a tricky course, and horrible golf by jocks, actors, and comedians. And CBS will show plenty of each. If you can break away from the curling or Lindsey Vonn in her downhill jumpsuit, point your clicker on over to golf and take a nap to the dulcet tones of Jim Nantz and friends.
And as always….