Sunday, February 12, 2017

Beauty and Competition: Thoughts on the 2017 Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Monterey, California. Upon the conclusion of a weekend of great golf, outstanding weather, and wonderful companionship I said that I didn't think I could go back. I wasn't convinced that anything could top the experience I had. With my eyes nearly glued to CBS sports today, I realized I how wrong I could be.

The competition 
Jordan Spieth returned to the winner's circle with an impressive finish of 19 under par. The man refused to miss greens in regulation and he one-putted 8 of his final 9 holes on Saturday. 

Spieth who became the number one player in the world in 2015 by winning the Masters and US Open (Chambers Bay) and posted impressive finishes in the British Open and PGA championship struggled throughout much of 2016. Though he did win two tournaments, his collapse at Augusta National left the golf world with short term memory of why he is a beloved player on the tour. Today was no flashback. Watching Jordan Spieth play golf is a delight. He executes, he makes the game look appropriately challenging and yet easy. His team philosophy—we—is palpable. His caddy, Michael Greller kept telling him to keep playing boring golf. It worked. ESPN reported Spieth's reply; "played a lot of boring golf today, which is exactly what we needed."

The 2016 winner, Vaughn Taylor, made for good talk at the water cooler for all of five minutes last year, but to suggest that his play made last year's tourney memorable is a stretch. 

I loved seeing Dustin Johnson execute 4 birdies on the back nine for a third place finish, but I enjoyed seeing Spieth holding a trophy once again (the ninth time in his career) even more.

Today, I held an internal debate: What do I enjoy more: watching professional golf or playing the game? When a tournament is at a place like Pebble Beach, I am afraid that my answer may lean to the former. 
After weeks of rain, the skies finally—FINALLY—cleared. The wet winter paid its dividends as the Monterey Peninsula offered as many shades of green as Ireland's 40. Pebble Beach which sits along the California coast, offered surreal vistas. At times the ocean's spray rose up, serving as a majestic backdrop to this cruel game. At one point, the camera caught an aerial view of a humpback whale, cresting to the surface.

Humanity can and never will tire of beauty. It is both pleasing to the eye and the mind. To gaze at such beauty, even from a 48" screen humbled and sustained me. I felt energized by the sights and made a vow to return next year.

I attended a seminar for teachers today and the pedagogical tools I learned were as valuable as the content of the sessions. One activity asked students to "Listen" to the photo. I've never thought about doing that before....but I love the invitation to include an additional sense into the exercise of learning. 

With the task in mind, I have two striking images that reflect the beauty of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. I sincerely believe the golf adds to the aesthetic. You can ask these questions of any images in this posting.

  • Tell the story of this photo
  • What do you think is happening?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What's the image about?
  • What strikes you about the image?

Ralph Waldo Emerson has written "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Indeed I carry the memories of Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2016 with me, but I'm pretty sure I know where to find it again.

Photo Credits

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