No amateurs at Pebble Beach? It’s still worth watching

It’s a good thing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will be on Valentine’s weekend this year.

Because it will help to remind us how much we love our great game.

That love keeps getting tested by COVID-19. We have tried our best to deal with what the pandemic has wrought. Stuck at home most of the time, no public gatherings – they’re minor inconveniences compared to the serious health-related and economic consequences of COVID-19.

But now the virus has really gone too far, at least as far as PGA Tour fans are concerned.

It was bad enough when officials of the Waste Management Phoenix Open announced in December that the iconic 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale won’t be surrounded by nearly as many spectators this year, and the ones who are there will be farther away.

Then on Jan. 12, organizers of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera announced that there won’t be any fans at all there.

The worst news of all came two days later. Not only will the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am be played without spectators; it won’t have the amateurs, either. It will be a Pro without the Am.

The other news out of Pebble Beach was that Monterey Peninsula Country Club won’t be part of the course rotation this year. The pros will play Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, and that’s it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m taking this news sitting down – as in, I’m sitting here calmly and looking on the bright side.

At least we’ll get to watch the pros at Pebble. If the tournament had been in the latter half of March or in April or May last year, it would have been canceled or, at best, postponed.

For the last eight months, we’ve gotten accustomed to watching pro golf tournaments that are absent of fans. It has been comforting to not have to listen to some yo-yo scream after every shot by the leader. I, for one, have enjoyed the solitude.

It’s really not a big deal anymore. About 99% of us will watch on television anyway, so the lack of fans really doesn’t affect us.

But no celebrities? No Bill Murray? Now that’s a problem. It will be interesting to see if that drives down the TV ratings – we love the views of the Pebble Beach coastline, but we love watching Murray just as much, it seems.

I’m undaunted, though.

I’ll still tee it up next weekend and revel in every minute.

I’ll still watch all these tournaments on TV, for hours on end.

I’ll still hit a few putts on the living room carpet every day just because it feels good.

I’ll still think about golf morning, noon and night.

That’s what I’ll do. How about you? I have a suggestion: Send yourself a Valentine’s present – by getting out on the course.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Golfers have much to be thankful for during this pandemic. We still can get out there and play. Not only has COVID not stopped us – play is up tremendously.

So don’t be too down about what’s happening at the moment. I’ll be shocked if the amateurs aren’t back at Pebble Beach next year. With the vaccine, the end of this nightmare seemingly is in sight.

And so is your next round of golf. Go be with the game you love. Go play. Tell your favorite golf course, “Be mine.”

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