Grouchy Golf Blog

Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 10:04 PM

Playing with the Pros

Golf is one of those rare sports where amateurs can play exactly where the pros play. Want to play baseball at Dodger Stadium or touch football at Lambeau Field? Sorry, it ain't happening, ever. But in golf, playing where the pros play is rather easy. Torrey Pines, Riviera and the PGA West Stadium Course are just a few of the PGA tournament courses that I have played. Sometimes it is even possible to play some of the ultra-exclusive PGA stops.

My friend from high school used to work for the Golf Channel. Every year, they flew him out to Augusta, GA to cover the Masters. He told me that the tournament holds a special drawing for the media covering the Masters every year. What are they drawing, you ask? Get this, it's for tee times at Augusta National the day after the final round of the Masters! Unbelievably, my friend won the drawing one year and played Augusta National. Can you imagine that? He got to play Augusta National in the best condition of the year with the Masters setup and final round pin positions. Lucky bastard.

In golf, not only can you play the same courses that the pros play, you can also play with the pros. Every pro tournament features practice rounds where amateurs can tee it up with the pros. However, in some events, amateurs can play with the pros during the actual tournament.

That's the name of the game as the traveling golf circus made it's way to Pebble Beach last week directly from the FBR Open's "Bird's Nest". The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is a tournament where the rich and famous get to team up with the pros. Are there any other sports that allows this? Imagine if Phil Jackson put Bill Murray into a game to defend LeBron James. Or how about Kenny G getting decleated by Brian Urlacher after running a slant across the middle. Yes, it's bizarre and it only happens in golf.

It's cool that amateurs can play with the pros, but count me among those who doesn't care to watch it. It's interesting at first, but it gets old fast. Watching narcissistic, spotlight obsessed celebrities trying to ham it up for the camera is just mind numbing. The worst offender this year was D-list, celeb wannabe Vegas entertainer Danny Gans. It's obvious why this dude hasn't "made it" in Hollywood. If I want to watch stand-up I'll tune in to Comedy Central, not a golf broadcast.

Anonymous Jen Mario said...

Hi Grouch--
My father in law tells a story about how he once got to play a US Open course the day after the tournament, from the same tees that were used during the tournament.

He was a four-handicap at the time. He shot 120. That's how much difference a PGA Tour setup makes. It's not just longer yardages, it's also narrower fairways, longer rough, faster greens, and trickier pin placements. He said he had a whole new level of respect for the pros after that.

So how did your Golf Channel friend shoot on the Masters-setup course?  


Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Hey Jen,

I think that my friend said he stopped keeping score because it was so ridiculous. He's a 14 handicapper, so I think 150+ wasn't out of the question. Also, he didn't have his clubs with him, so he had to borrow some sticks.

I'll try to contact him about additional details. But I think that he was just in heaven at the opportunity to play Augusta.  


Blogger Ron said...

I agree, I'm not a fan, particularly of celeb pro ams -- these are what the term "hit n' giggle" was invented for. However, there is one facet that does make it interesting -- seeing just how bad swings can be, particularly the over-the-top move that no pro employs. Yeah, I can see these at any time on any county course, but seeing them on TV right next to a pro swing seems to underscore the difference.  


Blogger MargaritaBeach said...

egads man, if I heard that Gans guy do Dr. Evil one more time I was gonna rips my ears off. Bill Murray on the other hand...I love watching him at the tournament. For my greatest golf memories, I got to go to the 03' Masters for the whole week (a friend playing in the tournament) and played The Olympic Course in SF. 2 places to go before I die. Pebble and The Old Course.  


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