As we headed toward the coast, I kept my eye on the clouds above. Was that some sunlight trying to peek through? I must have been having hallucinations due to lack of sleep. It was nearly 1 a.m. when I headed to bed and my cat wasn’t cooperating in my quest for quality sleep. If she can’t sleep then no one else is allowed to sleep either.
After a brief breakfast stop we arrived at Fort Ord. The organizers of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am really had their act together. Parking at Fort Ord was plentiful and, best of all, free. From there we got on a shuttle bus and were delivered, about 30 minutes later, to the front gates of the event. Upon exiting the bus we realized the weather had turned from uncomfortably cold to uncomfortably cold and wet. The skies had opened up and were releasing enough rain to annoy me but not enough for a good soaking. It was obviously my punishment for leaving my windbreaker back in the car. Again, good thing I was with Maura, she had a hat and extra coat to keep me warm and dry.
I’m not sure I can truly express how cool it was to be at this event. It’s the first time I have ever stepped foot on a golf course that didn’t have a windmill or a dragon head as the hazard to avoid. We spent a great deal of time on the most beautiful hole of the course, hole 7. It was also the coldest. The hole is located on the tip of a peninsula and the wind was blowing in from the ocean. The chill of the gusts together with the wind speed had the ability to leave me breathless but I kept reminding myself that in Maine (where I was born) I had experienced much, much worse. Besides, I got to see Bill Murray and some guy named Carson Daly (the teenagers seemed to like him).
We headed back to the eighteenth to watch the final teams finish up and seeing Michael Bolton along the way. I had been amazed all day at the way the crowds would go silent at the raising of an arm and then erupt into cheers when the ball found its intended target. It’s something I have not encountered in any other sport and I found to really add to the suspense of the moment. It was kind of like that second right before you push your chips all-in at the poker table only, “did I make the right move” changes to “did I hit the ball in the right direction”. I think I was held my breath a couple of times until I saw the ball land on the green. Lord knows I couldn’t spot that damn thing in the air.
The tournament ended with a true Hallmark moment as Phil Mickelson’s two adorable little girls ran out and jumped into his open arms. It warmed my heart, if not my extremities, and seemed the perfect ending to my first professional golf event.