MONTEREY—The 74th installment of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was well underway as professional golfers teamed up with celebrities and professional athletes for Day 2 of the tournament.
It was my first experience at such a high level golfing event, so the objective was to determine if the cost of general admission—generally ranging from $50-95—was worth it.
The first impression that hit me was the pristine condition of the course itself with the impossibly green grass maintained perfectly.
Pebble beach, widely regarded as the most exclusive public course in the country, first opened in 1919 and since then has hosted some of the greatest golfing displays of all time.
This includes the U.S. Open in 2000, in which Tiger Woods shot 272 and finished the tournament by a record margin of -15.
My dad, Brandon Southall, saw Woods accomplish this live and said the most stark difference was the size of the crowd, like sardines in a tin can.
“In 2000, there was an energy driven by witnessing one of the greatest athletes of all time at the height of his power,” Southall said.
On Friday’s Pro-Am tournament, the number of spectators was relatively low across Pebble Beach as a result of both the weather conditions and lack of big name celebrities on that course.
Some of the well known professional golfers in the game were on deck such as Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose. Then of course, there were celebrities including fan-favorite Bill Murray and San Francisco Giants legend Buster Posey, alike this year.
Many of them were playing on the other two nearby courses – Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club – but will return to Pebble Beach on Sunday.
There were plenty of spots to walk right along the rope next to the players themselves, where in 2000 the same places with easy access would have been stacked 30 spectators deep.
In fact, this was the most memorable experience of the day—nonchalantly walking mere feet away from the players currently being broadcasted on national TV.
The intimacy and proximity of an event like this is one that can rarely be found at any other sporting event such as football watching from a distance.
There were still many spectators who still, despite the weather, traveled a long way to see some of their favorite golfers in action.
“You already saw the forecast coming out here, so you’re prepared,” said John from San Francisco. “Walking the same areas that champion golfers would walk was a bucket list.”
Sirens rang across the course several hours into the tournament when a caddy was rushed to a hospital, but luckily he was administered life-saving CPR.
Another thing that impressed me was the food I ordered; a surprisingly good cheeseburger for just $12 at the 15th fairway.
“I think the Pro-Am is amazing,” said spectator Matt who came from Morgan Hill. “I think the amateurs do a great job. It’s a lot of fun to watch. Eighteen at Pebble Beach, it’s pretty spectacular.”
From rolling fairways to sheer drops into the Pacific, the magnificence of the course itself is awe-inspiring, not to mention the golfing legends who have walked the very same paths.
While the wind served as an inconvenience for both players and spectators, the stormy weather began to dissipate after midday into what became a really nice day on the course.
According to Pebble Beach Pro-Am officials, play for Round 3 was suspended due to high winds.
The golfers will return to action on Sunday at 8am at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Spyglass and Monterey Peninsula Country Club will be closed to the public.
Pebble Beach Pro-Am officials said in a press release that a 54-hole team champion will be determined at the end of the third round. The professionals will resume Round 4 at approximately 1:30pm.
With one day remaining in the Pro-Am tournament, I recommend tuning in or, even better, being there in person.