The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a tournament held each year, usually in February, in California on the PGA Tour. As a pro-am, the tournament is open to both professional golfers and amateurs, with 156 of each entered at the start.
Three courses are normally used throughout the tournament, all located within a two-mile radius on the same Californian Peninsula. They are Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, with only Pebble Beach Golf Links used on the final day’s play.
Essentially the event is two tournaments running at the same time. The pros are measured in the usual 72-hole stroke play fashion. However, for the first three rounds at least they are paired with an amateur, with a best ball team format running concurrently. The cut is made after the third day’s play.
The 2021 tournament will take place without any amateurs and playing only on the Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill courses.
First played in 1937, hosted by Bing Crosby, the tournament is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some find the slower pace of play a challenge whilst others enjoy more of an intense atmosphere. Those who do enjoy this tournament tend to return year on year, generally playing well. Thus, we’ve seen a number of multiple winners over the years including Phil Mickelson, who has won this even an amazing five times.
|Pebble Beach Golf Links||Carmel Bay, California||7,051 Yards||$7,800,000|
|Spyglass Hill Golf Course||7,041 Yards|
PGA Tour golf continues to be played inside a bubble to keep players, caddies and associated support staff safe. That has had a whole number of impacts on the tour including the cancellation of the traditional pro-am part of this week’s tournament. Moreover, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will take place at just two courses instead of the usual three.
Not everything about the changes is bad though. As ever, Pebble Beach will hold the final round of play but those who make the cut will now have to play three rounds at the historic and truly world class venue. Spyglass Hill will hold just one round with the field split between the two courses on Thursday and Friday. For many golf fans the absence of celebrities and business people is only good news for the tournament. It allows the PGA Tour players and these two stunning golf courses to play the starring role.
Pebble Beach is arguably the most iconic golf course in the USA. The coastal links has hosted the U.S. Open six times and as such is capable of being set up to be an incredibly demanding test of golf. It is always some way from its most difficult for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am but the absence of amateur golfers this year means the PGA Tour can be a little more devious with the pin positions on the famously small greens and perhaps let the rough grow out a little more than usual too.
Spyglass Hill doesn’t have the same world class golfing pedigree as Pebble Beach but it regularly features in lists of top level golfers’ favourite courses. Like its sister course, Spyglass Hill can yield some pretty low scores when the coastal winds lay down. Those winds are only likely to be a problem on Sunday this year. Moreover, wet weather in the area will make the greens more receptive and the fairways effectively play wider, which should boost scoring.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2021||Daniel Berger||-18||2 Strokes|
|2020||Nick Taylor||-19||4 Strokes|
|2019||Phil Mickelson||-19||3 Strokes|
|2018||Ted Potter Jr.||-17||3 Strokes|
|2017||Jordan Spieth||-19||4 Strokes|
|2016||Vaughn Taylor||-17||1 Stroke|
|2015||Brandt Snedeker||-22||3 Strokes|
|2014||Jimmy Walker||-11||1 Stroke|
|2013||Brandt Snedeker||-19||2 Strokes|
|2012||Phil Mickelson||-17||2 Strokes|
About the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links, on the Monterey Peninsula in California, is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. It’s up there with Augusta National and St Andrews as the sort of golf course that even people who don’t watch much golf have heard about and rightly so.
Pebble Beach actually shares numerous similarities with St Andrews. Both are on the rotation for their national championship (the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, respectively), both are coastal links courses and both host well regarded pro-am tournaments every year.
Just like St Andrews, Pebble Beach shares hosting duties for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (sponsored by AT & T since 1986) with two other courses. It is the historic links which takes the host duties for the final round on Sunday for this incredibly long running and popular pro-am tournament.
Bing Leads the Stars
The first few editions of the tournament we now call the Pebble Beach Pro-Am didn’t actually take place at Pebble Beach. The tournament began life in 1937 as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am and was an immediate hit thanks to the star pulling power of its host, Bing Crosby.
There were very few people more famous or celebrated in the whole world than Bing Crosby back then. Such was his pulling power that he was able to attract several of the best players in the world and many other big stars to the inaugural edition which was known as the Crosby Clambake and was won by Sam Snead, the man who still holds the record for the highest number of wins on the PGA Tour.
That first edition was held over just 18 holes thanks to heavy rain making the first day a washout. It was played over 36 holes for the next five editions until a short hiatus for the Second World War, coming back as a 54-hole event in 1947. The format has been tweaked a number of times over the years and was eventually extended to four rounds with a cut falling after three days, when each pairing has played a round on the three host courses.
The legendary Snead dominated the early years of the event and would win the tournament three times before its suspension due to World War II before then adding a fourth crown in 1950. Snead’s tally of four wins is better than other multiple winners including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Dustin Johnson. However, it is Mark O’Meara and Phil Mickelson who have the best tournament record with five wins apiece ahead of the 2021 tournament. In the below table you can see all the great players with three or more wins.
Comedian and White Christmas crooner Crosby loved hosting the tournament as much as the professionals loved playing it. Many big names from the worlds of sport, entertainment and business were also delighted to get the call to compete. Bill Murray, who played in 2020, is a regular, with both Eli and Peyton Manning also taking part that year. In the past NFL legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have teed it up for this one, as well as the likes of Kevin Costner and Justin Timberlake.
Bing (and his family after his death) remained the tournament hosts until 1986 whereby AT&T began their sponsorship and the name was changed to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Two-time major champion Fuzzy Zoeller won that year, by which time the prize money had ballooned from £500 in the inaugural edition to a very handsome £108,000.
Players With The Most Wins
|Player||Number of Wins|
|Mark O’Meara||5 (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997)|
|Phil Mickelson||5 (1998, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2019)|
|Sam Snead||4 (1937, 1938, 1941, 1950)|
|Jack Nicklaus||3 (1967, 1972, 1973)|
|Johnny Miller||3 (1974, 1987, 1994)|
Littler’s Unique Double
Many of the amateurs competing in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am fancy themselves as very good golfers. The likes of Murray, Timberlake and Tony Romo (the former Cowboys quarterback had a handicap of +3.3!) have impressed the galleries and those watching at home with the quality of their golf but nobody has managed to live up to the feat of Gene Littler.
Before embarking on a professional career which would see him win 54 times including the 1961 U.S. Open, Littler was one of the best amateur golfers in the world. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1953 and one year later won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a 23-year-old.
Following the end of three years’ service with the United States Navy, Littler turned pro and returned to Pebble Beach multiple times including in 1975 when he became the first player to win the tournament as both a professional and an amateur.
Low Score Needed
Due to the fact that amateurs are competing alongside the pros the courses are set up a little easier than they are for a regular tournament. That means that scoring is typically very low and although that can change if the weather plays up, generally speaking you want a player who is capable of firing in a lot of birdies.
Johnny Miller’s 1994 win was the last time a score single-digits under par was enough for glory. In 2015 Brandt Snedeker shot -22 to win, with the average score since then (including 2015) being a very, very low -18.83!