This week, the PGA TOUR visits the Monterrey Peninsula to play the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But this year, there’s a totally different feel than golf fans are accustomed to. While we’ll still get to admire the beautiful vistas of the Monterrey Peninsula and for those of us who have never been out there, the pining to experience Monterrey. Namely, Pebble Beach Golf Links. One day, I would love to be able to fly out there and pay $575 USD to play there.

My favourite Par 3 on the PGA TOUR. (Photo Credit: PGA TOUR)

Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, you’ll notice that the tournament features a different format this year. Instead of the field playing the customary three courses (Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, and Monterrey Peninsula Country Club – Shore Course) The “AT&T” will be omitting MPCC from the rotation this year. Also, you might notice the lack of celebrities playing in the event.

“Gunga Galunga”. Bill Murray, a staple at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (Photo Credit: Golfweek/USA Today)

Personally speaking, from a play standpoint, I don’t really miss the celebrities. We always see the same old, stale antics from the usual celebrities in the field. Sure, I loved Alfonso Ribeiro on “Fresh Prince” doing the “Carlton”. And, how could I not like Bill Murray? I love “Carl Spackler”. He was over the top long before Jim Carrey arrived on the scene. But, the material is so old and almost cliché that it’s become hard to watch. Larry The Cable Guy? C’mon man! But then you also have the “fringe celebrities” like CEO’s of corporations or former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (ANGC’s first female member) playing as well. Not to mention the slew of athletes like Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers, and the “Great One” Wayne Gretzky. What kind of soulless Canadian would I be if I left him out? More often than not, I opt out from watching the event. TOUR rounds take too long in the first place and then there is the slow grind that is the Pro-Am.

The Great One. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Don’t get me wrong. I like fun. I’m a fun guy. Potentially, the celebrities bring viewers to the event or television screen that normally may not have any interest. More exposure for the game is great right now. Even though, the pandemic has brought new or former players of the game – to the game. I’m all for new ideas and I’m proud to say that I have an open mind but, the last thing that you want to show is someone driving a cart or scooter over tee boxes or greens (those Finn Scooters, Phat Golf Scooters, and similar products are pretty cool). I present “Exhibit A” (see below).

I know what some people are likely to say. The damage is minimal and that’s not the point here. It’s a bad precedent to set and televise . Showing a whole bunch of “Weekend Warriors” or newcomers that it’s okay to drive there. As someone that has worked in golf operations for some time time, Pro Shop staff and Marshals deal with on the daily. They have enough to worry about out there. Hidden personal liquor (a total no-no here in Ontario), people parking their carts on the collar of the greens (carts displaying handicap flags notwithstanding), pace of play, and (ahem) “ball-hawking”.

As a responsible writer and “journalist” I’d be remiss if I failed to mention one important aspect of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The fundraising that occurs for the charities of the Monterrey Peninsula Foundation. An organization that had donated $12.3 million dollars in 2019-2020 alone. All supporting non-profit organizations in Monterrey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties respectively. Remember, this all stems back to 1937 when Bing Crosby invited a few friends for a “clambake” and to raise a little bit of money. After conducting some research I never found out how much it is to play in the pro-am. But one outdated figure that I found suggests that back in 2011, it cost $25,000 USD to play in the event.

Funds raised come from a variety of avenues. There is no doubt that without the celebrities playing and the lack of spectators in attendance, fundraising efforts for the Monterrey Peninsula Foundation will take a hit. So, Wednesday, a limited field of celebrities took part in the “AT&T Every Shot Counts Charity Challenge” that had a goal if raising $1.6 million for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation charities. Bill Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Macklemore, Kira K. Dixon, Kathryn Newton and Alfonso Ribeiro competed in a five-hole match-play event at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Admittedly, I had to look up two of them and I cannot name one Macklemore song. But, I digress.

Miss. America Kira Dixon. (Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle)

Love them or not, the celebrities in the field at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am serve a purpose. While some of us may not like watching them and their antics, they do a lot of good. Bing Crosby has to be smiling down seeing what his “Crosby Clambake” has become.

Until The Next Tee!!