This week’s stop at Pebble Beach simultaneously represents the best and worst that professional golf has to offer.
– Views on views on views.
– A set of golf courses that offer the entire field a fair shake regardless of driving distance.
– Monterrey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course, a Mike Strantz masterpiece, becoming a stalwart member of the rota over the past few years.
– Stout off-course scene (shoutout to The Refuge and The Tap Room).
– Increasingly solid field – Spieth defends, DJ is back per usual, and Rory is getting in on the action this year. Add Day, Mickelson, Rahm, Casey, Scott and Cantlay to the mix and we’ve got a golf tournament.
– Pebble is a mere shell of what it could/should be, and with a 2-3 night stay required just to play ($800+ per night plus $495 green free + cart fee), that’s not changing anytime soon. I have no issue with the cost (it’s a market economy and they’re full everyday, so more power to them). I’m not going to sit here and shit all over the place, but let’s acknowledge that with a proper restoration the place would be absolute fire.
– Spyglass, just in general, falls in the “worst” category. Andy included Rob Collins’ summation of Spyglass in his Fried Egg newsletter today but I’m going to throw it in here too because it never gets old:
I can’t stand Spyglass Hill. It’s the worst golf course on a great piece of land that I’ve ever seen. It’s a target golf slog filled with forgettable holes. The best stretch of golf occurs early & the routing fizzles from the middle of the front nine until your walk up the unremarkable eighteenth. The bad routing & repetitious nature of the holes makes one wonder if there were extenuating circumstances out of the architect’s control that held the course back from achieving the remarkable potential of the land. Every time I hear somebody remark that it is a better course than Pebble Beach, my mind goes blank and I become physically incapable of hearing anything else that they have to say.
– Saturday coverage is akin to watching a car collision in slow motion (sponsored by KonicaMinolta). Coverage will undoubtedly be delayed both Saturday and Sunday by a long-running college basketball game, we’ll be told that it’s airing online (not helpful if you’re at a bar or you’d like to watch on an actual TV), and the leaders will be playing one of the best stretches of holes in the world (7-8-9) during the gap in coverage. At some point this week you may wonder why a certain amateur is being shown, or interviewed. According to #sources the production team actually goes down a list of people they have to get onto the telecast (friends of CBS execs, favors, etc.) CBS: Crony Broadcasting System!
Pleased to see Paul Dunne and Branden Grace playing stateside, as well as another sponsor invite for Julian Suri (#DTWD).
We’re excited to announce one of golf’s most exciting rising stars, @JulianSuri1, as our official ambassador.
Win a round of golf with him ️ https://t.co/S5bCRHH3sz
— #Sacksonville (@Jaguars) February 7, 2018
Since we listed the notables earlier on let’s dive in on the pro-am side:
– Grayson Murray getting in with #BigPDF and playing with the CEO of Adobe. A future sponsorship here could put him in PDF’s Big Three with Vijay and Charley Hoffman.
– Mickelson paired up with Jimmy Dunne, who is the de facto president of the golf Illuminati (best guest on Callaway Live by miles):
– Warms my heart to see the Dermot Desmond/Rafa + JP McManus/Lowry group alive and well. One of my favorite elements of the Clambake. Two of the baddest hombres on the planet.
– Now that ZB’s back from that soul vacation last week (SFGC, Olympic, Cal Club, Northwood, Pasa, Pacific Grove, Lake Merced and then topped it off by playing Cypress with a super model, I shit you not) he’s paired up with Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train. “The best soy latte Starbucks Refresher that you ever had, and me…”
– Bryson playing with Lori Lee, the Global Marketing Officer for AT&T and one of the most powerful women in business. No doubt they’ll be talking about big data, the cloud and “taking the pledge.” Also in that group are Jim Herman and his partner, former Boeing Chairman/CEO Jim McNerney, who definitely knows a thing or two about dynamic load.
– Jason Day and Chris Harrison from the Bachelor teaming up. This is a good opportunity for Day to keep fine-tuning his dramatic skills. Should Day withdraw, Harrison will give him the opportunity to take a moment and say his goodbyes.
– Other random tidbits: The Rory Sabbatini/Blake Mycoskie (Toms shoes guy) pairing continues to confound, year after year. . . There are a couple father/son pairings in the field – the McIlroy’s and the McNealy’s. Rory/Gerry are grouped with Mickelson/Dunne. /*would watch* on PGA Tour Live, just saying, wink wink. . . Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald in the same group means even money odds that Nantz will make a joke about how good that combination would be on the field. . . Mike Bloomberg in the field this year, paired up with Rod Pampling. Surprising to see a guy who owns C.B. Macdonald’s cribs at both National and Chicago Golf Club play off an 18 handicap. . . Jon Rahm getting in with Big Twist Face and playing with CEO David Abeles. . . Great to see Thomas Keller back in the mix.
– Some good chatter in the replies to the tweet below about the celeb field this year (thankfully it is improving, albeit slowly):
Some bad news to report: not seeing Gary Mule Deer's name on the list of celebs for Pebble. End of an era? pic.twitter.com/9ZQTLlswOB
— Tron Carter (@TronCarterNLU) February 6, 2018
Randy: The tournament at Pebble Beach is an important part of the golf calendar for me. Growing up and living in the Midwest, particularly Ohio, this time of year is when the stretch of wintry gray skies starts to really grind on one’s soul. When I was in public accounting and the throes of busy-season, Pebble served as a bastion of hope for sunny days, spring weather, and a new golf season. To this day I could set my watch to catching the golf bug all over again during these four days. As for the tournament action, who could forget Steve Lowery’s playoff win in 2008? A close second was 2012 when Lefty dismantled Tiger in the final round to win by two. Poor Charlie Wi was runner-up that day, and I remember him standing in the 18th fairway, forlorn, as Lefty putted out. I think they may have had the trophy presentation before Chuck finished out on 18 that day, but I could be mistaken…
DJ: My lasting memory is 2012, when Tiger and Phil were paired together in the final round and Lefty TORCHED him, dropping a 64 and chasing down Charlie Wi to win. After a career of negative comparisons, Phil wrecked Big Cat by 11(!) shots and walked away with the trophy. Also, shoutout to Pekin HS grad D.A. (Rhonda Pearlman) Points for his win the year before.
Neil: The 2014 AT&T was the site of No Laying Up’s first media credential, granted for a Saturday round, and it was also the first time I saw The Barn Rat up close and personal. Kiradech was smoking a pre-round cig next to the putting green. I didn’t bum one from him, a top 5 regret of 2014. Watching Ray Romano duck hook one into the Pacific on #18 is definitely another enduring memory. It’s a good thing I’ve attended this event personally, or else my only memories would be scenes of seals, waves, and tap in’s from Carlton, Justin Timberlake, and Toby Keith on the annual CBS broadcast.
Soly: My lasting memory isn’t even a golf shot. It’s the botched chest bump between D.A. Points and Bill Murray during the final round of the 2011 edition. Points holed his third shot from the fairway on his way to winning the event, and proceeded to do what golfers do and completely butcher the celebration. It’s a perfect microcosm of the ethos of the entire week. This is supposed to be awesome, but there’s just enough there to ruin it. I know it’s part of the history and tradition of this event, but some of the best golf courses and scenery in on the planet and we’re watching a swing breakdown of some CEO no one has ever heard of. Bill Murray’s act is well past the “best by” date. No thanks.
Odds and Ends
– DJ Pie has attended this tournament a few times and swears by it in person. Everyone is in a great mood, the scene is surreal and the golf is pure. This is one of the few events that’s truly built for the people on-site, rather than the telecast.
– Hossler was a hunch last week and he finished T17 after fading on Sunday. Similarly, I like Cantlay this week.
– Less than 21 months ago Bubba was ranked fourth in the world. This week he fell another 17 spots to 115th. Hopefully he gets in gear before Riviera next week, as things are weirdly fun when he’s around.
– Going back to the course and what ails it, below is a picture of 17 prior to the renovation they did a couple years ago to make the green bigger. A step in the right direction from that.
However as long as they’re making $2K EVERY TEN MINUTES on golf, there’s really not a whole lot of reason to fix anything, because in their minds nothing is wrong.
– The Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland is nearly an identical format to this event and yet the coverage of that event is a pleasure to watch. Why is that?
– Head on over to the Refuge to get in on the conversation: https://refuge.nolayingup.com and stayed tuned for some surprises this weekend.