PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Scenic photo of the seventh hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links, on February 9, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
Big changes for AT&T Pro-Am in 2024
I guess in the long run it was inevitable, but the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as we know it is done.
In its place in 2024 will be a new signature event on the PGA Tour. It was an expected move, but the new event will not be anything like what the tournament was for years.
Gone is the 156-player field, with players paired with an amateur partner, and the duo playing 54 holes over Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club before the cut Saturday afternoon.
In its place is a $20 million purse for only 80 players, with 80 amateurs paired with the professionals for the first 36 holes at Pebble and Spyglass.
Only the professionals advance to the weekend rounds at Pebble Beach with no cut for the professionals. The format is designed to increase the quality of the professional field, which has been dwindling over the years.
Many blamed the pro-am format for causing long rounds, something many of the top players in world had grown to detest and avoid.
The sacrifice is the demise of the festive atmosphere that was Saturday at Pebble Beach during what was still known by some as the Clambake. dating to the days when singer/golfer Bing Crosby hosted the party. It was a party that raged during the day and often moved from Pebble to downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea in the evening.
There were some amazing nights at the Hogs Breath Inn, especially when Clint Eastwood still owned it.
As someone that has been to probably 35-40 AT&T’s, there were plenty of memorable nights. Initially when I heard the news of the change, I was disappointed.
However, the more I thought about it, the less upset I became. In recent years the quality of celebrities has shrunk, and the amateur field evolved into tournament sponsors and CEOs from major corporations. That is no more evident example than changing celebrities to amateurs for a point of reference.
The chance to see celebrities in almost every group at Pebble was gone and instead it was a parade of businessmen no one really cared about except for their families.
I can remember years of camping at the 14th tee at Pebble which always seemed to have a backup. It was as close as you got to the celebrities, which made for great moments.
I remember Bill Murray taking one of our beers, then hanging out and shooting the breeze like a long-time friend. There was the time Huey Lewis and San Francisco 49ers receiver Dwight Clark were hanging out waiting to hit.
Huey broke out the harmonica and an impromptu jam session took place.
Kevin James and Ray Romano were paired together and the two left us crying with laughter. But those days are long gone, so the decision is probably for the best when it comes to golf and the tournament.
The tournament had gotten just as bad on TV as the announcers were forced to gush about the sponsors making the coverage boring. Even Jim Nantz could only make a CEOs likes and dislikes interesting for only so long.
Let’s hope that of the 80 amateurs at least half are certifiable celebrities, allowing people to go down and see them on Thursday or Friday.
We always tried to get down on Thursday and see the A-list celebs at one of the other courses. It was always a great time and hopefully it will still be that way.
Now golf fans will have the chance to see the best players in the world on one of the best courses. It will make for good TV. The crowds won’t be as big, even smaller than the U.S. Open, giving golf fans a better chance to get up close to see the best players.
We’ll have more coverage of the tournament as it gets closer so make sure to check back!
For more information of for ticket information, go to www.attpbgolf.com. Ticket sales open Nov. 2.