Sunday, February 09, 2014

Pebble Beach

I went to Pebble Beach golf course for the first time on Wednesday, and the beauty of the place surpassed high expectations.

We drove down for the final practice round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament, a day before the heavens opened for the opening day of the event on Thursday. Its scheduling was probably the final, tipping event that caused the rain gods to finally give us precipitation this weekend.

The annual event started as a party hosted by Bing Crosby, whose Pebble Beach home above sat on the 13th fairway. A few years after his death in 1977, the tournament went corporate, and the Hollywood celebrities playing alongside golf pros were mostly replaced by CEOs.

There are still a few golf-mad entertainment figures who play, including saxophone player Kenny G above, who is standing in a sand trap on the 3rd hole above during a five-hole Wednesday "Celebrity Tournament."

Kid Rock, the Michigan rocker/rapper above, skipped the celebrity tourney and played a practice round alongside his pro partner John Daly below.

The two have been drinking buddies for over a decade, probably not the best pairing since Daly has spent his career in and out of rehab while Kid Rock has been arrested multiple times on alcohol-related assaults.

I spent most of the afternoon following Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy above around the course, partly because he looks like a taller, lankier Jake Gyllenhall. In person, he turned out to be charming.

Ogilvy's practice group included Scottsdale real estate and golf course developer Gregg Tryhus above left and Fox TV newscaster Brett Baier above right.

Pebble Beach is a public place where the 1% can feel comfortable and their political brethren are welcomed with open arms, such as Jeb Bush and Condoleeza Rice, who both played as amateurs in the tournament.

I had always thought the buildings you see on TV broadcasts from Pebble Beach were part of the public Lodge facilities, but that was a mistake. There are 46 dwellings scattered along the course and they are all privately owned by a lucky segment of the superrich, including Charles Schwab. (Click here for a profile of who owns them and click here for an amusing real estate tour by Deej.)

Walking along with me was a delightful couple in their 70s who were following their amateur son. I Googled the gentleman's name later and found that he had recently been accused of sexual molestation by teenage boys in decades past while he put them under sedation as a dentist. The state's Supreme Court threw out the lawsuit against him because it was past the statute of limitations, but it was still shocking to find out that the nice old heterosexual dentist/real estate developer was possibly a sexual stalker of underage teenage males in his spare time. By the way, Bing Crosby wasn't the nicest person behind closed doors either, if eldest son Gary Crosby's memoir is to be believed.

I don't care. The golf course is a marvel and if money ever enters my life again, I can hardly wait to play it.


TK said...

Speaking of Kid Rock, he was guesting on a Detroit-area episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," and if you think about it, Kid Rock and Guy Fieri were MADE for each other. Kid looked actively bored during most of the cooking part of the show. No booze involved, I guess.

Great pictures, BTW. Looks gorgeous.

Mike Wallach said...

It's definitely on my bucket list. I have to play it just once. But, in addition to the money obstacle, I've determined I won't play until / if I am good (not bad) enough to appreciate it. That is the tougher hurdle. To play in the Pro-Am,I think the amateurs have to be at least a 17 handicap. I feel like I need to be closer to 20 before I'll flush the disposable income.

Michael Strickland said...

Mike Wallach: The highest handicap allowed for the Pro-Am is 18, although I was reading on some message board that there was no way Condi Rice was actually an 18 handicap because the writer had played right behind her on some course and she was an awful golfer who was probably closer to our handicaps.

TK: I saw Kid Rock being interviewed on TV during Saturday's round where they asked him how he was doing with the rain delays, and his response was something on the order of, "It's all good. We get to go the bar if we're not playing, and we get to go to the bar after we finish playing too."