It really doesn’t get much better than spending four-ish days in December playing golf and hanging out with new and old friends at Pebble Beach Golf Resort for a wonderful cause. Before the Lexus Champions for Charity festivities began, I wrote that Christmas came early when I got to watch some old friends earn their PGA Tour cards at Q-school. Then I experienced it all and I left Pebble, thinking, “Wow, Christmas happened again!” and “Did I seriously ever question accepting the generous invite?” (Yep, I’m a moron.)
Seriously speaking, Lexus and Octagon, the tournament organizers, put on an extremely well-run event — and even better, it’s in the name of charity. That said, congrats to the winners who raised thousands for the foundations of their choice!
Some people have asked me which course was the best. In my humble opinion, I think Spyglass is the purest course overall. Obviously, Pebble is the most memorable and incredible experience because of the stretch of sweet holes (6-10, not to mention 17, 18), and you know, it’s Pebble. But I can’t remember a “bad” hole at Spyglass and it was just a true and tough test of golf (not that Pebble isn’t). I actually had this discussion with Merf who agreed (his high school home course was Spy), but he made a good point — when presented with the option of playing Spy or Pebble, he picks Pebble every time. I probably would, too.
Anyway, after the golfing wrapped up, we gathered for the Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Inn at Spanish Bay (where most of us stayed — the fireplaces in the rooms are just as amazing as you’ve heard they are). This year, the Lexus Champions for Charity program raised $32 million!
Oh, before it started, I interviewed Lexus Ambassador/NBC Broadcaster/I-Shot-63-at-Oakmont Johnny Miller. He gave me some “some good ammo,” and chuckled, “She asked me who the biggest choker is.” (Stay tuned!)
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Shane and I were seated at the same table as Johnny and Peter Jacobsen, who shared emceeing responsibilities. Jacobsen opened with pleasantries and quipped something like, “It’s great that so many people are giving to charity in this struggling economy — like Auburn University, all the money went to Cam Newton.”
Then, it was Johnny’s turn. “[This event] is like making all you guys feel like you’re playing in The Masters. It’s about the closest you’re going to get.”
The man doesn’t lie.
“Be honest in all your dealings,” said Johnny. “I try to be that way in my announcing even if it doesn’t go over real well on-air.”
Johnny and Peter presented the live auction item, a trip to the 2011 US Open at Congressional that included the opportunity to sit in the booth with Johnny and Dan Hicks. Peter joked, “I’ll be there, too, and I have a headset on, but I’m delivering the (lunches). I want to know what kind of car Phil is selling in San Diego. I don’t want to miss what Johnny is saying on-air with the headsets.” (At the Ryder Cup, Mickelson was hitting it everywhere but the fairway and Johnny said something like, “If Phil couldn’t chip, he’d be selling used cars in San Diego.”)
And then came handing out the larger-than-life checks. Here’s the big one to the winners of the Net Division, David Tomsche and Michael Gallagher, who shot 67-68-63. Nice job!
Thanks for not hitting into us on Saturday at Pebble, Rob and Dean! And finally, a shout-out to the guys I met from the NY/NJ area, Ben and Brian.
I might need to frame this one:
Some pictures from Spanish Bay via the great photogs at PEI:
Shane and I posed with a lot of Lexus cars this week. Which is your favorite? Car, that is!
If this golf gig fails, maybe I have a career as a car model…