The 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is upon us, and once again PutterZone.com was there to report on the latest putter happenings on the professional circuits. We begin our story series with this postcard from Pebble Beach, in the words of editor Sean Weir:
I drive past Monterey on Highway 1, take the Pebble Beach exit and wind through the Del Monte Forest before arriving at the course on brisk, fog-kissed morning.
As always, I first make my way to the practice putting green adjacent to The Lodge at Pebble Beach, which becomes increasingly encircled by spectators as the morning grows late.
The throngs are here to get a gander (and often an autograph) at the likes of Chris Berman, Kenny G and World Series Champion manager Bruce Bochy. But I’m here to get a gander at the latest flatsticks from Odyssey, TaylorMade, Edel, STX and others. The practice putting green is a like a candy store of putters, with tour representitives showcasing their hottest wares to the best players in the world.
However, everyone at this tournament, from spectators to celebrities to the professionals, is united by one thing: awe and appreciation for the remarkable natural beauty that surrounds. You’ve seen Pebble Beach on television. You’ve seen the breathtaking bird’s eye blimp shots. But without trying to sound like I’m rubbing it in, there’s just nothing like seeing it in person.
And this year, the spectator experience should be better than ever. This is the first AT& Pebble Beach National Pro-Am fully helmed by Steve John, CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation (he took the position shortly before last year’s tournament). Mr. John has presided over numerous enhancements. “Everything we’re doing is about improving the fan experience,” he told Carmel Magazine.
The grandstands behind the tee of the epic 17th hole have been enlarged, while a new grandstand has been added behind the 17th green, a vantage no spectator has ever enjoyed before. Nearby is a two-story sports bar available for an extra $50, providing a central gathering place for fans with stadium seating overlooking the 17th green and 18th tee.
I’m fortunate enough to have access to the driving range, where I get the privilege of watching the pros hone their craft. It’s a humbling experience, seeing guys my size (ie: very average) grab a blade iron and send the ball on a screaming arc into the horizon with astonishing consistency. Here, the range balls are sorted by type. Would you like a basket of Titleist Pro V1x balls, sir? How about a basket of TaylorMade Lethals? Nearby is a practice bunker, and several pros are thumping balls out of the sand and landing them over a high lip with beautiful softness. It’s truly another world.
Eventually, I pull away and walk back down to the Lodge for a last circuit of the practice green. It’s a sloping walk, and below unfolds the magnificence of Carmel Bay, with shimmering waters and the silhouette of distant Pt. Lobos. There’s nothing like it.
I highly recommend adding the AT&T National Pro-Am to your bucket list, be it a practice round or a competition round. I can assure you that the memories will be worth the trek.
P.S. Stay tuned in the days ahead for our upcoming reports on tour putters from the Pebble Beach practice green.