A golfer’s unabashed love letter to one of the world’s most spectacular courses.
With the possible exception of Augusta National, home of The Masters, no American golf course is as respected and beloved as Pebble Beach. Located near Carmel-on-the-Sea on California’s breathtaking Monterey Peninsula, Pebble’s ingenious layout and glorious vistas have permeated the consciousness even of the non-golfing public thanks to TV coverage stretching back to the old Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, which featured the then-novel spectacle of professionals teeing it up alongside celebrities like Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon and Sean Connery. Confessing to at least a mild case of midlife angst and taking a sabbatical from his professorship, Jack (English/North Central Coll.; What Cheer: A Love Story, 2010, etc.) resolved to spend a year immersed in the honeyed, moneyed milieu of Carmel covering four tournaments: the Wal-Mart First Tee Open, the Calloway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational, the AT&T Pro-Am and the 2010 U.S. Open, hosted by Pebble for a record fifth time. The author dutifully reports the progress and outcomes of each of these tournaments, but his real subjects are the history and idiosyncrasies of Carmel and the course itself, whose fabled difficulty and mystical charm have made it a golfing mecca. On pilgrimage, Jack played the course—for a whopping $500, Pebble is the rare U.S. Open course accessible to the public—and interviewed a wide variety of pros, golf teachers, writers, celebrities, business titans and longtime Carmel residents. He charts his frequently amusing efforts to negotiate on the cheap one of the world’s most expensive environments. Too often he affects an annoying, hipsterish tone, but he can turn a memorable phrase—he defines a caddy as “the quintessential wingman”—and occasionally supply arresting insight. After interviewing the course superintendent, he notes that “taking care of a masterpiece would be the most perfect kind of hell.” In the end, any sins are forgiven because of Jack’s refusal to take himself too seriously and because of the allowances we customarily make for someone who’s so obviously in love.
A real-life golf fantasy year, boldly lived and exuberantly told.