Friday, February 10, 2023

Variety Might Be More than the Spice of Life: A Case for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

They say variety is the spice of life. I agree. Can variety be an advantage, too? 

Are you someone who intentionally mixes it up? Yes and no? No and yes? 

This school year, I have found a simple delight in taking different routes to work in the morning. I have an aunt who never orders the same meal on the menu of her favorite restaurant. Her thought is, Why should I? They have great cooks, and fresh ingredients!  Way to go, Aunt Mo. Recently, my mom was inspired by a fashion blog that challenged viewers to create at least ten new outfits from clothes one already has in their closet. She described this opportunity as "so much fun" and inspired me to do the same. This reflection on variety prompted me to consider, What does variety look like in sports? How do I mix things up in the sports I play? I found one answer in an unsuspecting place: Pebble Beach, California.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is an annual PGA sponsored golf tournament that takes place the first week in February. Once known as the "Bing Crosby Clambake" this iconic tourney includes professional golfers (from the PGA) alongside corporate executives/sponsors and celebrities of all sorts—athletes, musicians, not to mention comedic legend Bill Murray. In recent years and pre-LIV tour, fewer and fewer high profile, top ranked players have comprised the player list. Surely it's not the setting. Green and blue spaces abound. In fact, it offers a different kind of grind. 

On the tour, golfers grow comfortable with competing on one course in a singular tournament. The AT&T Classic is played on Spyglass Hill, Monterrey Peninsula and Pebble Beach (2x). That would require additional practice rounds and course knowledge. Others don't want the distraction of the celebrities and competing next to golfers not at their level, while trying to win a PGA title (and a birth to the Masters!). And yet, the 2023 winner found the change to be a welcome thing. As written in Justin Rose wins Pebble Beach Pro-Am to book Masters spot after Gareth Bale impresses

The slow pace of the Pro-Am format is not to every professional’s liking but Rose believes it has helped bring out the best in him. 

“When you go side by side with the amateurs there’s something which maybe keeps me a little bit more mellow so I have got to learn from it,” he said.

Who knew that variety also serve as an advantage?

Jason Bateman, Bill Murray and Josh Allen are but a few of the celebs at the AT&T

Golf is a game built on tradition. Old ways die hard and tradition—by definition— is resistant to change. But the times have invited us to consider its value. My sense is that tradition is a double edge sword. We want it and yet the emergence of the LIV tour has led others to find more value in innovation. Some might argue that's the best quality LIV golf has going for it. To me, innovation has a few things in common with variety. Yes and no. No and yes. It's certainly caught people's attention (I have yet to write about the LIV tour) and spiced it up (red hot). 

Blessed John Henry Newman said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” In what ways do you invite change? participate in it? contribute to it? When we change, no doubt there is loss—but there might be more—much more to gain!

Advice for those planning to attend in 2024
If you can—arrive on Friday (afternoon) and head right over to either Spyglass Hill or Monterey Peninsula. In the past, when I arrive late in the day, I have been able to walk in without a ticket. It is not as crowded and the TGIF spirit is palpable. You can follow but a few groups, but this might get you up close and personal with your favorite.

If you are there for celebrity sightings: One approach to engage a player you would like to meet is to offer a specific comment, idea or insight. The more specific the better. I have stories. I have examples....

Go to The Inn at Spanish Bay on Friday night. The outdoor fire pits, the sunset, the bagpipes. Surreal.

Saturday: The better players and higher profile celebrities will be playing Pebble Beach. Arrive early morning. Walk the course; get the lay of the land and then follow your favorites. Take in the green and the blue. Hit the Tap Room after. It will be crowded but it will be fun.

Per my own advice, mix it up! Variety comes in many forms. Let that underscore your visit.

Photo Credits
Justin Rose

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