This week the PGA tour sets up shop along 17 mile drive in Northern California (weather permitting). The AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, formerly known as the Crosby Clambake, has traditionally been the Pro-Am event that attracts the A-list celebrities. While Bill Murray typically highlights the entertainment, there are plenty of other talented individuals, who take time between shots on Number 17, to entertain, while getting their swings analyzed. The tournament is played over three courses. This includes the Monterey Peninsula Country Club (private), Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach. The final round is played on the picturesque Pebble Beach venue.
Last year’s leaderboard included many familiar names as well as some second tier players. Michelson nearly won this event last year, and has a great record at Pebble Beach. He is playing well, so a top-10 would not be surprising. Dustin Johnson also plays well here and is the likely favorite. Jason Day and Jordan Spieth are scheduled to participate, so there is no shortage of star power. (I cannot believe Matsuyama is taking the week off.)
I am going back out on the limb this week, after my nightmare at Torrey Pines. Here are my picks: 1) Dustin Johnson, 2) Justin Rose, 3) Phil Michelson, 4) Patrick Reed and 5) Webb Simpson (just because of last week). Sleepers are J.B. Holmes, Pat Perez, Brant Snedeker, and someone whose last name begins with K.
Personally, I would stay home and watch the event…even if the weather were nice. If you are headed that direction, you might prefer to play some golf. Pebble Beach resorts offers some great packages, albeit somewhat expensive, that will get you on Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Spanish Bay. There is so much great golf in the area, it is tough to limit a favorites list. However, here are my top-5:
Pebble Beach is my favorite course that is available to the public. No facility combines location, history and overall “coolness” than this venue.
Spyglass Hill is my second favorite. I have heard the arguments that this one is better, but I beg to differ.
Pasatiempo is a classic Alister MacKenzie design located north of 17 mile drive in Santa Cruz. Politically incorrect logo aside, this magnificent venue will challenge even the best golfer.
Cordevalle is the most under the radar resort in California. This is a great facility with a terrific golf course. Perhaps a tad expensive (but what isn’t in California), the package deals are worth the drive.
Links at Spanish Bay is often overlooked because of its two more prestigious neighbors, but it a great course in its own right. The comparatively less expensive alternative to staying at the Pebble Beach Lodge is booked through the same company. I strongly urge getting the Stay and Play package which offers rounds at each of the three 17 mile drive courses.
Other excellent venues in the area include Poppy Hills (it will save you a few $’s) and the Bayonet and Black Horse golf courses in Seaside. Golf on the Monterey Peninsula is an absolute must. Pay in advance and enjoy it while you are there.
Weekly Observation: What is up with Hideki Matsuyama? If not for Justin Thomas the guy might never lose. He is striking the ball as well as anyone, and has begun making putts. Without either of those two in the field, it seems wide open this week.
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He has recently released Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses; now available in hardcover edition. Please visit tophundredgolf.com regularly for more (im)practical information.