With plenty of celebrity and tradition on both sides of the pond, the GolfChannel.com team debates the better pro-am: AT&T Pebble Beach or the Alfred Dunhill Championship?
By RANDALL MELL
Even if you don’t like golf, walking along the fairways during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is anything but a good walk spoiled.
Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods all played at Pebble Beach, but they never made contact more spectacularly than the way the surf hits the rocks in Stillwater Cove. The old Crosby Clambake will never lose its charm because of that, no matter which stars show up.
There are few vistas in the game as stunning as the tee box at Pebble Beach’s seventh hole, the shortest tough hole in golf. The views on the eighth and 18th tee boxes are not bad either.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship also offers some special settings with St. Andrews and Carnoustie among the courses the event is played upon. There is no more sacred ground in golf than the Old Course, but Pebble Beach feels as if it takes you to heaven's doorstep. Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t call it “The most felicitous meeting of land and sea in creation” for nothing.
By JASON SOBEL
Athletes want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be athletes. Blondes want to be brunettes and brunettes want to be blondes. (And yes, some of us just want hair.) The point is, as Mick Jagger has been screeching for decades, you can’t always get what you want.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Unless, of course, the other side happens to include a three-course rotation of St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, where faded fairways and brownish greens are not only the norm, but perfectly acceptable.
It only makes sense that a British golfer would long for the lush shorefront real estate of the Monterey Peninsula, just as an American secretly craves the hallowed ground of Scotland’s yards. You won’t find me bellyaching about the majestic California courses, but given my choice of whether to compete in the grandest stateside pro-am or the coolest overseas edition, I’ll take the latter and run with it – for as far as my punched 2-iron will take me on those vaunted links.
Kingsbarns is the most awe-inspiring “new” course I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting; Carnoustie is a dreaded beast best left untamed and St. Andrews is, well, it’s St. Andrews – and if that simple explanation isn’t enough to get you salivating, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention these last couple of centuries.
So give me that 2-iron in a romp over a hybrid. Give me another pint at The Dunvegan in a 1-up victory over a cocktail in The Tap Room. Give me the Dunhill Links by the smallest of margins over the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Maybe someday it’ll happen. After all, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
By REX HOGGARD
With a monsoon of respect to the home of golf and Auld Grey Toon, there is only one Clambake and only one pro-am that is a must-see, or must-play if one is lucky enough to merit a tee time.
What the Old Course and St. Andrews enjoy in historical significance, Pebble Beach makes up for with postcard views, an “A” list of celebrities and a rejuvenated rotation of courses that is second to none.
Iconic Pebble Beach has always been the centerpiece of the annual PGA Tour stop, but in 2010 Monterey Peninsula Country Club was added to the “Crosby” rotation and may be, according to many a Tour frat brother, a better golf course. By comparison Carnoustie and Kingsbarn, the other two courses in the Dunhill Links rota, are consolation prizes.
While neither event enjoys a world-class field, other than Bill Murray – whose shtick seems lost on the U.K. galleries – the Dunhill lacks the star power that Pebble Beach enjoys.
And if that wasn’t enough, consider the weather. For all the annual hand-wringing over “Crosby weather,” Pebble Beach has enjoyed Chamber of Commerce-like conditions in recent years. By comparison, on Saturday at St. Andrews the morning groups will tee off in breezy conditions with temperatures in the 40s.
There is no place better than St. Andrews in July, at the Open Championship, but when it comes to a pro-am, Pebble Beach is the gold standard.