First played in 1937, the event that was initially known informally as the Crosby Clambake (after its founder and longtime organizer Bing Crosby) and exists today as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has long been lauded for its star power, in the form of the top tour professionals it is usually to able attract to the spectacularly scenic Monterey Peninsula and also the notables from the sports, business and entertainment worlds that regularly participate.
This year’s field of pros is particularly heady, what with Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm all competing. And just as impressive is the crop of amateurs playing in the pro-am, which began Thursday. Taken together, the collection of skill, celebrity and setting should make for very enjoyable TV.
The NFL past and present is well represented with quarterbacks Steve Young, Alex Smith, Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers all participating along with receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Rodgers is paired with fellow Badger Stater Jerry Kelly, and on the surface that seems a much more compatible pairing than that of the Hall of Famer Young, who as a player was fleet afoot and often ran a hurry-up offense, with the sloth-like Kevin Na.
From the NHL comes Wayne Gretzky, and the Great One’s partner is none other than his son-in-law – and the father of his two grandkids – Dustin Johnson. Baseball fans will notice that Houston Astros majority owner Jim Crane, who in addition to carrying a 2 handicap now possesses a World Series ring, is playing with his friend, Jimmy Walker. And fans will see now-retired PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem enjoying his time at this year’s AT&T with Billy Horschel his pro.
Other amateurs who might be worth following include former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Fox News anchor Bret Baier and super chef Thomas Keller. From the business side, the AT&T gives us George Roberts and Jerry Yang (co-founders of the investment-banking giant KKR and the internet pioneer Yahoo!, respectively) as well as Charles Schwab, Michael Bloomberg, Scott McNealy (whose son and partner Maverick McNealy is a newly minted PGA Tour professional) and David Kohler, who not too long ago succeeded his father, Herb, as CEO of the prosperous plumbing and hospitality concern in Wisconsin.
As for entertainment industry, the usual suspects from that sector are competing as well, among them Ray Romano, Larry the Cable Guy, Carson Daly and Chris O’Donnell. Oh, and Bill Murray is playing once again with D.A. Points.
It should be a fun few days of golf.