Pebble Beach on TV is next best thing to being there

Some of our television viewing habits are not meant to be understood by anyone else.

I, for one, will never be able to wrap my head around the idea of watching a daytime soap opera. I feel the same way about game shows, mindless comedies and those shows that explore the paranormal.

But then I look at my biggest TV addiction, and I concede that most people I know don’t have a ghost of a chance of understanding why I watch pro golf tournaments for four and five hours at a time.

It happened again over the weekend.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am always has been my favorite PGA Tour event. I felt that way when I lived almost 2,000 miles away. I felt that way when I lived an hour away. I feel that way today when I again don’t live nearby.

The only thing better than watching it on TV is being at the tournament.

It’s not just the scenery although that’s a big part of it.

It’s not just the golf courses, but that obviously matters, too.

I definitely love watching the celebrities try to make solid contact, and the fact that amateurs are allowed to play on the final day alongside the pros makes it even more attractive to me.

I don’t know how many people tuned in while the Golf Channel was showing the early holes and then stayed with it all the way to Nick Taylor’s final winning putt, but I’m one of them.

And, once again, it evoked a singular feeling:


Sadness that four days of sunshine and seals and wind and sharply breaking putts were over.

Sadness that I couldn’t be there in person to take it all in although the memories of my trip to the U.S. Open last year still are fresh in my mind.

Sadness that we won’t see the world’s best players tackle Pebble Beach and two of its neighboring courses for another year.

I wasn’t surprised when the broadcasting crew said Pebble is Taylor’s favorite course.

We already know how his playing partner Sunday, five-time Pebble Beach champion Phil Mickelson, feels about the place.

Show me any beloved venue in sports – Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, Churchill Downs, whatever – and you can’t tell me that any of them are better than Pebble Beach on a sunny day.

That’s quite a statement for me, considering how much I adore Fenway. I was there again last September and loved every minute of it.

There’s an important difference: I never got a chance to try to hit a baseball over the Green Monster. But I got to play Pebble several times.

I was lucky. It was before it became so expensive, it’s out of the price range of most amateurs.

I also had the privilege of playing Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay and the new Monterey Peninsula Shore Course. They all were amazing, particularly Cypress.

But Pebble still stands out in my mind, simply because I had seen it so much on TV and had spent so much time contemplating what it would be like.

I’ve got to believe that hundreds of thousands – heck, maybe millions – of our golfing brethren back east were dreaming over the weekend of what it would be like to march up the famous 18th hole at Pebble as a player, not a spectator. Can you blame them?

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who can’t understand such devotion to golf, but I would hope they at least could understand the glory of playing it.

Watching it? I don’t expect them to understand. It will have to remain our guilty pleasure.

Let them think we’re crazy. We’re just nuts about our great game.

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