by Jeff Skinner
Say what you will about the rounds taking too long, the celebrity aspect being overplayed, the lack of a major field or any other negative comment about the AT&T Pro-Am, it still brings us up close to one of golf treasures, Pebble Beach. This tournament is worth watching even with all its shortcomings because the course itself is the real star here. The overhead shots of the oceanside holes are fabulous. Heck, I rather watch those camera shots than any of those celebrities hacking it around those wonderful links. Yesterday The Golf Channel showed plenty of the famous holes with overhead shots or angles from behind the tee which in my book were the highlight of the telecast.
The short par three seventh looks so scary. The eighth looks more like a spot where one of those Acapulco cliff divers would feel at home. Of course the eighteenth hole has seen many thrilling finishes but the view from that hole always holds up well against any finish mere mortal golfers can manage. But the hole that does it for me is the seventeenth. The par three, 178 yard hole looks out onto the Pacific and is home to one of the most iconic shots in the history of golf.
In the US Open of 1982 Tom Watson came to the hole chasing Jack Nicklaus for the championship. Nicklaus was the man of course but approaching the back nine of his career. Watson was in his prime and looking for his sixth major but only his first US Open title. You know the story: Watson puts his tee ball behind the hole, deep in that US Open rough. No golfer got it up and down like Watson back then and when his caddy told him to get it close, Watson said “I’m going to put it in.” The rest, as they say is history.
The cast of characters in that video is remarkable. The first voice is that of ABC broadcaster Jim McKay, a broadcasting legend. The second voice is Dave Marr, one of the most respected and loved men in golf. The skinny caddy that told Watson to get it close was Bruce Edwards, one of Watson’s closest friends. As Watson runs onto the green as the putt falls he points back to Edwards and says, “I told you I was going to make it.” It’s bittersweet as you look back at this video with McKay, Marr and Edwards all gone. Those gentlemen made the historic moment a little more special, just like Pebble Beach.