Lexus Champions for Charities Day 1: Spyglass
By Stephanie Wei under Wei Goes Golfing

Group pic: Kirk of Lexus, me and Shane Bacon

As you may know, I’m spending the rest of the week at Pebble Beach Golf Resort, writing about my experiences playing golf (Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach) and the other activities happening at the Lexus Champions for Charity tournament. The trip is courtesy of Lexus, which has brought in myself and Shane Bacon as their bloggers to cover the event (hooray for new media!). Check out more info on the charity event that has raised more than $135 million. For more pictures and updates, follow me on Twitter and join the WUP Facebook page.

It only took 20 hours to get from Orlando (via NYC via delays to SFO via traffic to Pebble) to the Inn at Spanish Bay on Wednesday. But when I walked into my room and saw the fire place, that was enough to make the long trip worth it.

On Thursday morning, I gathered with blogger buddy Shane Bacon and approximately 180 Lexus charitable members to play Spyglass Hill. (The were 100 or so at Pebble and Spanish Bay, too.) The day was off to a good start with the drive from Spanish Bay around 17 Mile Drive to Spyglass. We rode on the road that runs right along the ocean, next to the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, which brought back fond memories when I played there with the SI gang in June. Even with the fog and misty rain, it’s beautiful, and strangely, it fires you up for a day of golf.

Shane and I played with Kirk, who runs all things that have to do with Lexus Experiences (let me get back to you on his exact title). The other 177 people were playing the tournament. There are two-man teams competing for prize money that goes to the charity they represent. First place for the net division wins $17,500 and first place for the gross division earns $10,000. The Champions for Charity event is the culmination of people that played in Lexus charity events around the country this year and won the local tournament.

Now, they’re stuck at Pebble for five days for a weekend of golf, luxury, good times, and most important, philanthropy. Lexus focuses on charities that benefit children, so some of the organizations that benefit from money raised this week are The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the March of Dimes, the YMCA and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Meanwhile, our threesome was just trying to soak in the awesomeness of Spyglass. And that wasn’t difficult. The course is just straight-up pure. It’s tough, but very fair. It was playing quite long since the conditions were wet and the air was thick. Our caddie Josh, who was super cool (except he kept misreading our putts!), told us before the course was playing 600-700 yards longer. He wasn’t kidding.

I’m happy to say that I had my best ballstriking day (barring the last few holes) of the year, thanks to a mini lesson that my friend gave me last week in Orlando. I actually don’t feel like I’m going to shank it every time I stand over an iron shot!

The Lexus on No. 12: Just call him Vana White

In fact, I was knocking those irons pretty tight today — one-under on the par-3s! I almost won a Lexus! Well, kind of.  On No. 12, competitors had the chance to win a Lexus SUV (pictured above) with an ace. From about 160 yards, I knocked a fire-iron to 30 inches. I missed on purpose because I wouldn’t have been able to win the car since I’m not officially entered in the tournament. Kirk said I could have had the bow. But it would have been too frustrating to ace the hole, knowing that I couldn’t have the car.

Throughout the day, we heard cheers coming from all parts of the course. “Nice, bogey!” Just kidding. These guys are some pretty good golfers and having fun while doing something to give back to their local communities. (Big ups to Lexus for combining the two!) As for me, I just tried to soak it in and enjoy Spyglass. On 14, Shane asked what hole it was. I didn’t know and had to check. We looked each other and laughed, saying you know you’re having fun when you’re not keeping track of how many holes are left (especially during a 5 1/2 hour round!).

What’s next? We’re playing Spanish Bay tomorrow. I’ll report back afterward. Oh, here’s me and Bacon’s scorecard. 

Me & Shane's scorecard at Spyglass

We both scored worse than we played. “If we hadn’t been messing around and so mesmerized by the course in the first few holes, we could have easily shot three shots better each — me, 73 and you, 76,” said Bacon. I’m just happy I broke 80 at a tough course.