If you think PGA Professional Chuck Dunbar, the Head Professional at Pebble Beach Golf Links - host of this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am - has the best job in the world, you'd probably be right (though he can think of one better). No one knows or understands the allure of Pebble Beach more than he does, nor does anyone appreciate it more. But what do you need to know, and want to know about Pebble? We ask the man himself in this week's "Local Knowledge."
1.) Pebble Beach has set the standard for destination golf. Can you explain why?
Easy, it's an unbelievable great scenic location along the majestic Pacific Ocean that features awesome golf courses that offer distinctly different challenges, history and tradition unmatched by other resorts, great food and great service. It's a perfect alignment of all the elements.
2.) It's big-name celebrities, the world's best players, the world's most beautiful course. But is it a fun week for you? What will your week look like?
It's a blast while working long hours, dawn to dusk…and a few after hour functions. I help officiate two celebrity shootouts. On Tuesday I'm rubbing shoulders with legends from the SF 49ers & Giants in a charity 5-hole shootout. We conduct another one with the movie/music/tv celebs on Wednesday. It's a bit like herding cats but walking down the fairways with the likes of Andy Garcia, Jerry Rice, Harris Barton, Matt Cain, Kenny G, Chris Berman, Don Cheadle, Ray Romano & Clay Walker…all of whom I've gotten friendly with…are highlights of the week that mix fun with work. Bill Murray and George Lopez are awesome too, but not playing this year. I hope George gets back in the rotation next year…he's the best, great for the tournament and a good friend!
** Related: Pebble Beach opens new golf academy **
3.) If I'm coming out to Pebble Beach for a golf trip, what are three things I need to pack that I may not be aware of?
First, prepare for any kind of weather. These past 2 winters were unbelievably sunny and warm. Some may think that summer in California is hot but we can get some damp, cold fog. So bring clothes that you can wear in layers.
Second, an appetite for great food. The restaurants in in and around Pebble Beach are outstanding. My new favorite place to hang out with friends is "The Bench". Formerly the old Club XIX, it has couch seating outside around firepits with views of the 18th green. At sunset, a glass of wine, some roasted beets, portabello mushroom fries and some flatbread pizza, meeting new guests…Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Great fun.
Lastly, a great attitude. It's a bucket-list item for many and so many people may never have the chance, opportunity or financial means so relish it. If its foggy, windy, rainy, cold, you score badly, whatever…don't let little things out of your control diminish what is a once in a lifetime trip for many. Have fun.
4.) How many people (due to corporate outings, family trips, etc.) make Pebble Beach their first or one of their first rounds of golf?
Not many in the grand scheme of things but when it happens, it's noticeable and obvious. The worst is when they are paired with others they are not associated with. In those cases, we may need to intervene, have them play at the end of the day, refund their money or issue a credit to our new Golf Academy and Practice Facility. We make sure that when something like that happens they don't ruin an experience for others.
5.) One of my favorite stories is your story about the golfer who posted a high number (higher than rules allow) and then told you that it was a 30 shot improvement from year before? Can you share that?
I was adding up scores from a corporate tournament outing when I came across a scorecard where a golfer recorded a 217. I joked to one of my Assistants in the Pro Shop, "Andy, I think we have a new course record" Andy responded, "Oh did someone take it deep?" "Oh they took it deep, allright…the took it deep to the tune on 217!!!" I said. Little did I know the guy with the 217 was in the corner at the GHIN computer whereas he spun around and proclaimed, "That's not the course record. The 217…that's me. But last year I shot a 247!!!" Feeling I just insulted a guest and put my foot I my mouth I was left with no option than to jump into the deep end so I said "30 stroke improvement in a year!!! Wow, who's your Pro 'cause he's doing a helluva job!!! By the way sir, That's not an ATM machine or a computer to check the internet. If you put a 217 in as a score, the computer just may explode". We all had a laugh and he was humored. So, Chuck lived to work another day. Whew!
6.) Can you name one job better than yours?
How about the guy who applies the sun tan lotion on the Hawaiian Tropic Girls. I interviewed for that job once but they said my hands were too small.
7.) Wildest, worst or most unusual shot you've seen?
Coincidentally it happened last week. Guy insisted on playing from the blue tees, takes a Daly-like backswing at it, ticks the ball where is rolls about 20 feet, but his driver slips out of his hands and flies over the top of the roof of the Pro Shop and stays up there. About a 75 yard toss 90-degrees from the direction of the fairway! One of the nimble starters climbed up and retrieved it for him. Given that there was no "hush money" exchanged, the story must be revealed…I'm too nice to reveal him by name him though. He knows who he is.