I’m a tad late on writing the follow-up to my long weekend on the Monterey Peninsula, but because the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament is such a special event to me, I thought it was worth a ninth inning rally.
My buddy and I hit the road from Southern California on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 8 for the 4.5-hour drive up north. Along the way, we made a quick pit stop at the James Dean Memorial on Highway 46 where the legendary Hollywood icon perished some 55 years ago. After a quick photo there, we got back on the road and touched down in Carmel about 6 p.m. We immediately met my brother Chris at the celebrity shootout on the famed par-3 seventh hole at Pebble Beach. A huge crowd was there, but when your brother is one of the celebs, you get “back stage” access. To say it was a celebrity-fest would be an understatement. But, keep in mind, my idea of a “celebrity” is less about Hollywood and more about the athletes. Grabbing a beer with Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers makes for a pretty special time – and a picture of them together would make for a great Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks!
The primary reason I went to the event was to caddy for my brother Chris. We were on the tee bright and early the next day at Monterey Peninsula’s Shore Course. What a track! Chris’ playing partner was a great guy from Canada by the name of Adam Hadwin. You may recall that Adam earned instant PGA Tour notoriety last month for recording only the fourth score of 59 in PGA Tour history. What an impressive game he has, and he’s even a better guy. Love those Canucks!
Round two was at Spyglass Hill and will go down as one of the single most brutal weather days I have ever seen on a golf course. Rain and wind made for incredibly difficult playing conditions and even harder caddying conditions as I lugged Chris’ oversized golf bag on soft turf from the back tees! I was spent after that round.
The sun came out on Saturday, and I turned in the heavy bag for more of a flyweight one. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and things were good. Team O’Donnell played great, making the cut for Sunday, which is a huge accomplishment as they only take the top 25 teams. Well done, brother!
For the first two rounds, we were paired with Tour player Kevin Chappell and his celebrity partner Joe Don Rooney from the country band Rascal Flatts (the entire group is pictured above). Both are great guys and very strong players, it was such a good pairing for us. It was also pretty cool to be one group behind Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, and oh yeah, and this other guy with the last name of Gretzky…
When all the smoke cleared, Chris and Adam finished an impressive sixth overall. By far the best Chris had finished in his 20 years or so of playing in the event. I think it was because of the caddy!
A leisurely drive home by myself on Sunday afternoon back to L.A. made for lots of time to reflect. What I concluded was how lucky I continue to be in life. Whether I was playing (which I’d prefer) or caddying, the opportunity to walk those special golf courses with your brother for four days is something I will always remember. Then you throw in the “celebrity time” and dinner at The Tap Room, and those become the cherry on top. And damn, it was a good cherry!
Sooner or later Chris is going to win that event and have his name on the first tee at Pebble Beach…. Though I may get there first if I can help it.