Ever heard of it? Widely known as (at minimum) one of the five best golf courses in the world, Pebble has played host to this tournament since 1947, as well as five U.S. Opens through the years. Measuring 6,816 yards, it’s the shortest track in the PGA Tour rotation and actually plays the easiest (in relation to par) of the three courses in the rota this week.
Get your picture in front of the ocean out of the way pre-round because there are birdies to be had from the get-go. The first eight holes are way gettable with two reachable par-5’s, as well as a potentially (depending on prevailing winds) driveable par-4 (#4). Holes 9 and 10 are brutal par-4’s along the ocean that can be really awkward for righties. Once the course routes inland, holes 11 through 16 are, relatively speaking, extremely forgettable (you’re still at f’ing Pebble). Then comes the picturesque, magnificent finishing hole. The par-5 18th is both beautiful…
…and gettable (with a real threat of calamity)…
Reached with an Iron.
Another course straight off a postcard, Spyglass has the reputation as “Pebble’s Little Sister” (actually I just made this up, but it works). Diminutive like Pebble (listed at 6,858 yards) and much lesser known, it’s actually a very stern test with #8 and #16 considered two of the toughest holes on Tour. Possessing serious elevation changes, oddly shaped greens, and awkward uphill/downhill shots, all the while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Spyglass camps out at the top of public course rankings. The last thing we’ll note is that the course sometimes borders a little bit on rinky-dink due to the shortness, shapes and forced iron play. Glass half-full, it’s shot-maker nirvana; glass half-empty, it’s the prettiest damn pitch and putt you’ll find.
Monterey Peninsula (Shore Course)
MPCC was added to the tourney rotation in 2010, and has recently been extended through 2020 as the third site for the event. Stop me if you’ve heard this so far: it’s beautifully scenic, with ocean views, and short (6,838 yards). MPCC usually gets cut out of the broadcast for the most part, so there’s much we don’t really know about it. The front-nine is a funky little par-34 featuring three par-3s, so there is that.
For more information, here’s a solid website which runs through the aforementioned courses, as well as other beauties in the area like Cypress and Pasatiempo.
The tourney describes itself as ‘A Charitable Classic since 1937,’ when Bing Crosby “invited some friends to play golf, enjoy a clambake, and raise a little money for charity.” NLU Godfather Sam Snead won the inaugural Pro-Am in ’37, and legends have continued to raise what looks like a miniature, crystallized version of the CN Tower ever since:
Shortly after, Phil told Clint to ‘GET OFF MY LAWN’
These days things feel a little more corporate (then again what doesn’t, am I right?) what with the number of big-money, non-celeb amateurs in the field. Amazingly AT&T has maintained its lead sponsorship of the event since 1986–that and $0.50 will get you a cup of coffee!
Truth be told, even though the celebs overall border on C-list, it’s kinda cool the tournament has held on to its roots with the Hollywood folk sauntering around inside and outside the ropes. Their presence, along with the unrelenting gorgeous scenery, always puts everyone in good spirits and the vibe does hit ‘convivial clambake’ throughout the week, even if it’s meandered from Bing Crosby’s exclusive-based-on-coolness to exclusive-based-on-Bilderberg membership. Pros here to grind won’t have fun. Amateurs here to grind should be shot.
Brandt Snedeker edged Chris Kirk by two shots to win the Pro title. At the time he was the hottest golfer on the planet, as the result marked his fourth top-3 finish in his first five events of 2013 (!!). What’s interesting is that Chris Kirk (2nd), Kevin Stadler (3rd), and Jimmy Walker (3rd) have all notched their first career wins (two for Walker) since last year.
Snedeker and his amateur partner/professional BSD, Toby Wilt, shared the Pro-am crown with Michael Letzig and John Erickson. Why they don’t play off the Pro-am title is inexplicable bordering on criminal.
(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)
Horses for Courses
- Dustin Johnson (12/1) – 2 time winner, top-5’s in this event 3 of the last 5 years – Home Field Advantage
- Hunter Mahan (16/1) – T16, T15, 2nd last three years here. Buttery wedge and iron player doesn’t have to bomb it.
- Jimmy Walker (20/1) – T3, T9, T9 last three years, and obviously balling out this year.
- Jason Day (12/1) – 6th in 2013. He’s gonna pure long irons off the tee ALL DAMN DAY.
- Spencer Levin (66/1) – Top-10’s his last two starts here, three top-15’s in four starts, this is essentially his home.
- Charlie Wi (100/1) – Four top-27 finishes in the last 5 years, including 2nd in 2012 (when he had to wait out Lefty’s trophy ceremony from the 18th fairway before holing out).
- Patrick Reed (40/1) – 7th here last year and is loitering near the top of leaderboards every week.
- Aaron Baddeley (80/1) – T12, 4, T6 in his last three starts in this event.
- Kevin Stadler (50/1) – Doubt he’ll win two in a row but does own three top-25’s in 4 starts here, including a T3 last year.
- Richard H. Lee (150/1) – T12 and T15 the last two years. If you actually play him or bet him, you’re a better man than me.
Take a drink of your beer anytime the following happens:
- Jim Nantz tries to make it seem like he feels bad about the weather being shitty in your city while he looks at whales surfacing in the cove.
- Your eyes bleed from Peter Kostis using the Konica Minolta Bizhub Swing Vision Camera on a celebrity’s awful swing.
- Kenny G’s fake 2-handicap pops up on screen. Or any fake handicap for that matter. Most of the amateurs in this event are titans of their industry, type-A’s to the core. Lopping off a stroke or six from their Index for appearances is standard operating procedure.
- Chris Berman can’t get out of a greenside bunker. Or you see Chris Berman’s pit stains. Or just generally whenever Chris Berman is on camera—you’ll want to be as numb as possible.
- A Dustin Johnson-Paulina Gretzky-Wayne Gretsky parallel is drawn and the palpable awkwardness hangs in the air.
- CBS interviews an Entertainment-industry celeb you’ve never heard of.
- An amateur clumsily attempts to pick up or scoop his ball green-side. Most of these peeps realize they have no business being alongside Pros and are walking on eggshells all week. Around the greens especially they’re trying to 1) stay the hell out of the way and 2) get the hell out of the way after they do have to hit their ball. For most of em this usually results in rushed, non-athletic moves to pocket their rock. Cheers to that!
- You find yourself muttering, either silently or aloud, “why the hell is CBS showing [insert amateur’s name] again?”
- You get The Itch and live north of the Mason-Dixon line. You’ll want to consume heavily knowing it’s early February and golf season is still at least a month and a half away.
- NOTE: we will break down the hilarity on the amateur side of this event later this week (probably in cliche, power rank form) in time for Saturday’s extremely avoidable broadcast. So check back later in the week for sure.
- The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Pebble Beach is Tiger Woods’ performance for the ages at the 2000 U.S. Open. Big Cat actually won the AT&T before going on to OBLITERATE the field at the US Open in June. My favorite story from that week is how he almost ran out of balls after hooking this shot in the water:
- Speaking of the Cablinasian – partly due to the ass-whooping Mickelson put on him back in 2012, Tiger probably won’t be back in these parts again until the 2019 US Open at Pebble. He played six years in a row between 1997 and 2002, notably winning in 2000 as detailed here.
- NLU will be on site for the first time this year, as neil griffith will be making the trek down from San Francisco. He’s been polishing up the NLU signature “MMMMMMUNCHED!!!!!!” call for tee balls. After this, the next time NLU will be on-site is the Heritage at HHI and then the Memorial up in C-bus (subject to change pending our media credential request for Augusta).
- Graeme McDowell making his 2k14 non reach-around schedule debut. So there’s that.
- While the amateur aspect of this tournament can be annoying (and an absolute kick in the balls to anyone who cares about pace of play), it’s worth touching upon some of the celebs NLU is looking forward to making fun of profiling later this week. First, there’s a wealth of QB’s (A Rodg, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, and Colin Kapernick…psyche!) and Coaches (HoodMan Belichick, Jim Harbaugh, Brian Kelly, and Herm Edwards – who will definitely be playing to win the game). Personally, we can’t wait to see The Bull God (Kid Rock), Hootie (sans the Blowfish), and Kenny G munch drives and stuff wedges. We can only hope these guys make up for Chris Berman’s presence inside the ropes.Who the HELL is Gary Mule Deer?
- We’re expecting a big number from ‘The Great One’ this year after we outed Paulina for a suspect tattoo placement. You’ll remember that DJ shat his pants last year when he played with Wayne. We’ll see if that trend continues this year.
- Chris Kirk spooked us last week, chasing an opening 65 in Phoenix with 73, 74, 76. Didn’t see that coming.
- Honestly, the best part of this week for Fil and me is the presence of Dermot Desmond and JP McManus. These two Irish playboy billionaires have lived pretty incredible lives (check out their wiki links for full detail–we’ll hit the highlights below).
- McManus (pictured on the right) made an early killing in the horse racing hustle, as both owner and wagerer. Awesome. He’s also a currency savant it seems, acquiring a sizable chunk of his billions trading FX from a small office in Geneva, Switzerland. Of course. He’s also a large shareholder in Ladbrokes. Savory. Not mentioned: obligatory run-ins with regulating bodies and questions surrounding certain business dealings. Hey, it happens.
- Desmond (pictured left) is basically McManus minus the penchant for ponies plus some badass lip foliage. He’s a wheeler and dealer across all business industries, his main profession making money. He has majority ownership of Celtic FC, while also having stakes in Casinos, Airports, and seemingly everything else. Like McManus, he’s crossed paths with governing agencies, a requisite for real wealth-builders.
- You’re damn right Soly went white pants with the yardage book in the back pocket when he got the chance to play here three years ago. Oozing #TourSauce:
- Lastly, try telling us that Stillwater Cove doesn’t look like a great set of Hooters…