Bill Murray may have made his final appearance on the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Golfweek has learned that the PGA Tour is expected to make the annual stop at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, one of the eight designated events, beginning in 2024. As a result, the Tour is considering shortening the amateur portion to 36 holes played on Thursday and Friday only over two courses, rather than all 72 holes over three courses with a 54-hole cut to the top 30 teams.
Jack Nicklaus spilled the beans about Pebble’s elevated status during an interview at the Honda Classic last week.
“I heard that,” said AT&T ambassador Jordan Spieth, who won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2017, and has been campaigning for the tournament to receive a better spot on the schedule. “That was maybe a bit premature.”
On Wednesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo informing the membership that the board approved a plan beginning in 2024 to reduce the size of fields and eliminate the cut at several of its designated events. The eight affected designated events for next year have not been finalized.
Including Pebble Beach in that elite group would mark yet another drastic change for the Tour – reducing the field from 156 to between 70-80 players and bumping the purse from $9 million to $20 million – at a tournament that dates to 1937 and started out in Rancho Sante Fe, California, when Bing Crosby invited some friends to play golf, enjoy a clambake and a raise a little money for charity.
“I voiced that I feel that we have this opportunity where the top guys are committing to play in the same events then we should look at the most iconic venues and make sure that we’re doing it there because that feels like the coolest scenario for ratings, for sponsors,” Spieth said. “Let’s figure out what can be done. I don’t know what looks like. I don’t even know if they do. For AT&T to be open to it would be really cool because I love that golf tournament and it had been an unfortunate part of the schedule ever since the Saudi stuff and even before that.”
Justin Rose won the most recent edition in February, which featured just three of the top 20 and 21 of the top 100 players in the world.
Crosby’s Clambake, as it was affectionately called, shifted to Pebble when Monterey Peninsula Herald Sports Editor Ted Durein and a group of sports-minded persons on the Peninsula suggested to the famed crooner, who had become a member of Cypress Point Club, that he move his golf tournament to help fill hotel rooms and restaurants in Monterey during January’s off-season. And beginning in 1947, fill them they did, as Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course (1967-76, 1978-), Cypress Point (1947-1990), Poppy Hills Golf Course (1991-2009) and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Frank Sinatra, Steve Young, Johnny Bench, Clint Eastwood, Jack Lemmon and Murray are among the stars of screen and field who became regulars. Crosby invited the country – many of them snowed in and dreaming of when they too could hit the fairways again – to a tournament that became world-renowned through a top-rated television show.
Crosby wrote in the prologue to “The Crosby: Greatest Show in Golf,” that when asked what he considered his highest and most gratifying achievement in life, “the answer is immediate. This golf tournament … When I think I’ve had a hand in this, my cup runneth over.”
“It has a great history, so I think that’s the only challenge there. How do you change a little bit of the Bing Crosby and still maintain the history, probably the most historic regular event,” Spieth said. “Maybe one course, maybe two courses. There are a lot of options. That will all come down to balancing what the players are willing to go there and do and what the sponsor wants.”
Steve John, Monterey Peninsula Foundation’s CEO and tournament director, said he had nothing to add to this story as “conversations with key partners are ongoing.”
What you missed from a busy Sunday at the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Watch: Wearing mic for CBS, Keith Mitchell credits his caddie for calling him off a shot during live coverage of 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am