Weather’s beautiful, wish he was here.
That “he” would be Bing Crosby.
This Pebble Beach Pro-Am is his grandchild.
Its father was born in 1937, brought into the world of golf by one of Hollywood’s brightest stars.
Bing Crosby had game, a lot of game. In his playing prime, his handicap was a “2” and he absolutely loved the game.
He wanted to get his Hollywood buddies involved so he organized a little get-together at Rancho Santa Fe, where he had a home, outside San Diego.
Bing footed the bill for the prize money for the pros — $10,000. When Sam Snead was presented the winner’s check for $500 that year, the tour’s most famous tightwad asked if he could have it in cash. Bing obliged.
Crosby brought in the world’s most famous celebrities. After taking time off for the war years, they were back in 1947, moving the fun and games up to the Monterey Peninsula, the field had grown so much that they used two courses (Cypress Point and Monterey). The celebrities were real celebrities — guys like Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin then later Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman.
It was the “A” list, the who’s who. And this all happened long before the PGA Tour existed.
Crosby and his friends were the stars, they were the draw, not the pros.
There was a lot of drinking, clambakes, late nights and countless hangovers.
It was the best of times.
Once the PGA Tour was invented, this became a “must play” stop for everyone. Jack Nicklaus won in 1967, ’72 and ’73. The ’72 event was a thrill with Jack beating the new kid, Johnny Miller, in a playoff.
Tom Watson made a name for himself here.
Golf’s royalty was drawn to “The Crosby,” or “The Clambake” to those who helped start it.
Today’s it’s just another event with a corporate fat-cat sponsor.
Bing died on a golf course in Spain back in 1977. Heart attack.
Those who understand golf history will tell you that Crosby built the foundation for what is today’s PGA Tour.
The weather was post card perfect for Thursday’s first round. A pure bonus. One of the favorite terms over the years has been “Crosby Weather.” That meant a bit chilly, windy and yeah, some rain to make things tough.
Didn’t matter, folks were tough back then. Crosby weather didn’t matter, the drinks were always ready and the clams were hot off the fire.
Good news is they’ve got some star power this year but it is the players who are the stars — guys like D.J. aka Dustin Johnson, Rors aka Rory McIlroy, Jordy aka Jordan Spieth, Rahmbo aka Jon Rahm.
Bad news is that today’s celebrities are “D” list compared to Bing and Hope and Sinatra and Martin and Eastwood and Newman.
Bill Murray and Ray Romano? Sad clown acts. Couldn’t carry Bing’s lunchbox. Other “celebrities” are no celebrities at all, mostly well-heeled corporate types.
The winner on Sunday will collect north of $1 million. That’s a far cry from the $500 Bing handed Snead back in ’37.
Hopefully Jim Nantz will talk about Bing when the broadcast comes on this weekend.
After all, this is his grandchild.