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Gopher

Heading to Pebble Beach on Sunday morning

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Very excited for tomorrow... My wife and I had the opportunity to see the President's Cup in San Francisco last October, but I've never actually been to a PGA tournament, much less a major. Should be phenomenal, with a solid leaderboard on one of the most famous courses in the world. We're also expecting a baby girl in September, so with tomorrow being Father's Day (my first, in a sense), I can't think of a better way to spend the day with my wife.

 

The only issue is that my wife is NOT a morning person... We live about 1.5 hours from the course, and I'm hoping to get up early enough to beat the rush. Gates open at 6 AM, so... I'm just telling my wife to pretend we're getting up for a 6 AM flight in the morning. When we have a plane to catch is about the only time she's up that early. :wacko:

 

Not sure what we're going to do when we get there. Most people say to just post up at a hole and watch everybody play through. I'm thinking about Hole 14, which is a brutally difficult par 5 (several players have taken triple-bogeys or worse on that hole this week, so it might be pretty entertaining, with a Sunday pin placement). Otherwise, I was thinking about following one of the last groups around, but probably NOT Tiger or Phil... too much of a crowd. Plus, with my wife 6 months along (she is definitely a trooper), I don't want her to do too much walking. We'll walk enough throughout the day, as it is.

 

I'll check back in tomorrow night or Monday, and give a full report. :tup:

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Wow! With Johnson, Els, Woods and Phil all in the hunt, there will be a lot of great golf. Enjoy! I'd rather see any of these the three other than Tiger win it, but it was fun to see Tiger come roaring back today.

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Lucky dawg. Have a great time. I'll be watching it my the comfort of my living room.

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congrats on the good news, and going to a major golf event.

 

 

Carmel is one of my favorite towns..... let me know if you want some dining rec's.

Edited by Bier Meister

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So how was it?

Awesome. I'll post more tonight when I have more time. :wacko:

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Majors are a BLAST to attend. I normally camp out on a par 3 greenside view for most of the day. That way you get to see every group from tee shot to green. That worked very well for me when the PGA championship was at Whistling Straights several years ago.

 

Hope you had fun! :wacko:

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Wow... Where do I start. First of all, the course itself is incredible. You hear players and commentators talk all the time about how special Pebble Beach is. I always just figured a lot of that has to do with the tradition... Four previous US Opens, the annual Pro-Am tournament, Clint Eastwood and all of the other celebrities that are involved, Bing Crosby's involvement in developing the course/event early on, etc. But, it goes a lot deeper than that. You get the feeling that the players feel that Pebble is sacred, in a sense... almost like hallowed grounds, similar to how the British feel about St. Andrews. What makes the course special is not just the historic moments that have taken place there, but all of the elements involved in making it such a challenging, yet unbelievably beautiful, venue for a US Open. Typically, US Opens are known for long, unforgiving rough and fast, hard greens. The trend lately has been for US Open courses to be record-breaking in length as well... That's not necessarily needed at Pebble Beach, simply because nature plays such a huge part in the event. Weather is seemingly always going to be a factor there, as I guess it would be at most ocean courses, but there it feels like it's always wearing on the players' minds. Add in the fact that the USGA changed several of the fairways (so they no longer have rough protecting the players from the many cliffs overlooking the water), and the age old adage that "par is a good score at the Open" is no longer a cliche, but a definite understatement.

 

I have to admit that we didn't get to the course as early as I was hoping... Probably arrived around 9:30 AM, parked, and took one of the hundreds of shuttle buses to the course (20-25 minute drive). From the shuttle drop-off, it was about a five-minute walk to the entrance... right inside of that was the main merchandise tent (which was enormous... probably nearly the size of a football field) and concessions area. I noticed right away that there was a giant TV screen right in front of the concessions deck, where people were eating, drinking, and taking in the early golf coverage (I'll come back to this later). We kept walking (realizing that the "entrance" and merchandise/concessions was actually across the street from the golf course)... it was about another 5-minute walk to the clubhouse, putting green, first tee box, etc.

 

My first goal was to simply check out the course, and for the next 3-4 hours, that's just what we did. We started out walking along holes 1 and 2, stopped to watch Ricky Barnes chunk one out of the rough on #2, and proceed to hit his 3rd shot on to the green. Meanwhile, David Duval pushed his approach way right... it rolled and finally stopped right in the middle of a service road that was running parallel to the fairway. He then waited about five minutes for a ruling (we were speculating that he might have thought his ball was OB) before finding out that he did not need to re-hit, and proceeding towards the green. From there, walked down #15, and stopped at the 14th green. I was originally thinking that this might be a decent spot to watch several groups come through, but as soon as we arrived there, I realized that was not the case. As challenging and entertaining as the 14th hole is, it's not set up for the spectators... there is no grandstand on that hole, and everything is roped off so that the only place you can view the hole from is far below the hole, to the left of the green. From there, we could only see about the upper half of the players' bodies, as they putted, due to the steep drop-off from the green to where we were standing. We watched Camillo Villegas and his playing partner finish the hole, then watched the approach shot of Steve Stricker, then moved on to #6.

 

The sixth hole is a really cool par 5 that goes steeply uphill after the tee shot, leaving the players who go for the green in two a blind second shot. We walked the length of this hole, taking in the views of the coast, then moved on to take a glance at the holes furthest from the clubhouse (9-13). We then came back through, and stopped at the 8th fairway to watch Sergio and Kenny Perry come through. The 8th hole is maybe my favorite hole on the course, although there are a bunch that are in contention. It's a par-4 where the players have to lay up to avoid running through the fairway (and over a cliff), and then hit their approach (of 200 yards or more, usually) over the water to the other side of the cliff. Perry hit his ball right, and it ended up in 2-foot high rough next to the green, slightly down the hill. Three or four rangers immediately started looking for the ball. When it appeared they might not find it, Sergio sprinted the last 75-100 yards down the fairway, appeared to tell the rangers that they were looking in the wrong spot, and then found Perry's ball himself. He then signaled back to Perry that the ball was OK, but the lie was iffy at best. Perry put his provisional back in his pocket and walked up to the green. Pretty cool, and again, it's these types of moments that television simply doesn't capture. Being able to see that stuff is priceless.

 

As we approached the 6th green again, we heard the loudest roar that we had heard all day. I immediately assumed that somebody had made eagle on the par 5, but was mistaken. We quickly learned that Shawn Micheel had just holed his SECOND shot on the par five, from roughly 250 yards out. What's really incredible about that is that the shot was completely blind... like I mentioned, players hitting their second shots on #6 can not even see the hole/green, necessarily, so to sink a double-eagle is all that much more impressive (not that it wouldn't be anyway, under any circumstances). So, I can't honestly say I've ever SEEN a double-eagle, but I can definitely say that I've now HEARD one. Pretty amazing.

 

We spent the next few minutes checking out the miniature par-3 seventh hole, which is one of the most famous holes on the course. Right on the edge of a cliff, the wind plays a big part on this hole... most of the players use sand wedge or even less, and pin placements usually determines if it's a birdie opportunity or not. Being that the seventh was completely packed (including a grandstand that had to be 50 people across and 30 rows high, people lined five-deep behind the ropes all the way from tee to green, and others sitting on the grass between the grandstand and ropes), we decided to keep moving. We moved on back down around the 6th tee box, which brought us eventually to the back side of the 16th green.

 

The 16th has a bunch of gnarly trees in play, behind the green, and as we approached, my wife pointed out a ball lying in the grass, just a few feet away from us. A marshall came over and stood over the ball, and I realized that it belonged to David Toms' playing partner, 18-year-old South Korean Noh Seung-yul. His ball was not in a good spot at all... several tree branches between him and the green, with apparently no shot at the green. The only opening I could see was far too low... hitting the ball there would cause it to run well through the green on the other side. The kid took a couple of looks at the trees, spoke to his caddie for a minute, then looked almost straight upwards... to a relatively small opening in the canopy. He then walked very deliberately towards the opening, until he was directly below it... Pretty sure he was counting paces at that point. Returning to the ball, he took two practice swings, with the club face on what appeared to be a lob wedge turned wide open. We were standing directly to his right, no more than five feet away, and my first thought was that we should probably move, in case he shanked/skulled the ball (since he was apparently going to try such a difficult shot with the club basically flat). I then reminded myself that he would probably ask us to move if he felt we were in the way, or in danger of getting hit. :wacko: He then took pretty much a full swing... as soon as I saw the ball take off, I knew it was perfect. Maybe the best shot I've ever seen in person... I couldn't help but say "Wow" and everybody else who was nearby was pretty much in awe as well. I play a lot of golf, and I'm guessing I could put that ball on the green (and get it to stop on the green) maybe once in 50 tries. Not only did he put it on the green... he put it within about 12-15 feet of the hole. He then sank his putt to save par... Unbelievable. Stuff like that makes it worth the price of admission to be there, since they're not normally going to show much from the players who teed off at 9 AM, no matter how great the shot.

 

After 16, we moved on to the intersection of the drivable par-4 4th hole, and the 200+ yard par-3 17th... both great holes, we watched a couple of groups tee off each way, then moved on to 18. We stopped at the halfway point on 18, where the right-hand bunker and two trees are (the ones Tiger avoided on Saturday, when he faded a 3-wood around them and onto the green). Watched Toms and the young Korean hit their second shots, chatted with a ranger for a minute (who said that one of the houses on 18 was for sale for $29 million), then proceeded towards the green. Even though we had another five hours or so until the final group would finish, the 18th green and grandstand was absolutely packed. At this point, we decided to head back towards the main concession area... we ended up just posting up in the grass and watching the remainder of the tournament in front of the giant TV. Not a bad way to take in a US Open... close enough to still hear the roar of the crowds, but in the one spot where we could still take in the rest of the action. That was probably the one downside for me... I'm used to taping golf on Sundays (especially the majors) and watching all of the action... when you're on the course, there's no TV's (unlike the President's Cup, where they had them on nearly every hole), so you feel sort of helplessly uninformed as to what's going on throughout the rest of the course. Don't get me wrong... the experience was tremendous, and I am glad I took the chance to see the course.

 

Of course, now I've got one more golf course on my "bucket list" of course that I am determined to play at some point in my lifetime. I'll post more (not that this post wasn't long enough, but there might be something I left out) if I think of anything.

Edited by Gopher

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Very nice. I hope to see, or heaven forbid...play, this course once in my lifetime. Watching it on TV is probably like looking through a keyhole. I couldn't imagine the sweeping views of it. :wacko:

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Very nice. I hope to see, or heaven forbid...play, this course once in my lifetime. Watching it on TV is probably like looking through a keyhole. I couldn't imagine the sweeping views of it. :wacko:

Yeah... I've played some beautiful courses in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and Montana, as well as some absolutely stunning courses in various parts of California. The view from the 8th fairway... looking across the water at the players hitting their approaches from the other side of the fairway... is absolutely amazing. Maybe the best view I've ever seen, on a golf course or otherwise. From that spot, you can look to your left and see the 9th and 10th holes, and the beaches below. To the right, you see holes 6 and 7, and beyond that, you see the entire 18th hole off in the distance. Not to mention, the Pacific Ocean is right in front of you. After seeing the course, there are a number of spots that would be to nice, in terms of just sitting there for the day and watching the field. Other than the obvious (7, 17, and 18), I think #8 is at the top of the list. Since I had never been there, though, my first priority was seeing the course, which we did. Plus, I wasn't too concerned with making sure I got to see the big names (Tiger, Els, Mickelson, etc.) up close, since I got to see all of them (as close as you can get) at the President's Cup in October, where the crowds were big, but not nearly as bad as they were on Sunday.

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