I have attended this great tournament many times. I have also “worked” it, as I did some relief work when they had a pharmacy in the gift shop across from the Lodge. We got to meet many golfers, and famous people. Let me share a few stories with you.
Perhaps the best and most gracious person was the actor, Jack Lemmon, who always brought his two full sized poodles with him to the week’s festivities. He was always friendly to the staff, always signed autographs for the kids, and had the biggest smile on his face. On the other side of the spectrum was none other than Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, who thought everyone should bow down to him. He smoked rather heavily, and always smoked inside the pharmacy even though the signs were posted to the contrary.
Everyone’s favorite was the great Arnold Palmer, who was also a part owner of Pebble Beach. Again, a man who was so gracious, always smiling, and exuded his charismatic personality on and off the course. He was certainly our favorite golfer.
Some golfers and famous amateurs behaved in such disparate ways. Most very gracious, but some expecting everyone to cater to them all the time. The bell staff was always run ragged by their crazy requests. My dear friend, John Bunting, the head doorman at the Inn at Spanish Bay has many stories that cannot be repeated!! But John, ever the gentleman, did his very best to accommodate the needs of his rather spoiled guests.
One man who stood out was the astronaut, Alan Shepherd. When he passed away, from a cancer he acquired in his space travels, his ashes were spread over Carmel Bay. He was a great man, who always conducted himself so humbly, and gentlemanly.
Many residents of Pebble Beach are quite wealthy. Some hang on by a thread. Many have homes around the world, as I found out one day. The houseboy for a wealthy woman came in, asking for a year’s supply of a medication. The expense would be in the thousands of dollars, but he did not wince. He mentioned that her other homes were in Hong Kong, and Paris. She did not want to be bothered with filling her medication in a foreign land!
The minor celebrities were always the most irritating. They wanted to buy the biggest cigars, and the most expensive gifts. They would charge everything to their room, and never tip any of the staff. They expected the house physician to give them anything they wanted. If he didn’t, they would place a complaint to the house manager at the Lodge.
But out on the golf course, I met many famous people. The one who stood out to me was former President George H.W. Bush. Though I did not agree with some of his politics, he was delightful man. He treated my son like he was the most important person in the world. Jack Nicklaus, when signing autographs for his fans, would always look the person in the eye, which I thought was a very down to earth way to connect with his many fans.
Of the professional golfers, I thought both Arnold Palmer and the late Payne Stewart were special. Their connection to the fans seemed so real and personal. Then there are the real a**holes, who swear in front of children, and rarely give autographs to kids and fans. Other really nice guys: Fred Couples, Davis Love, Jim Furyk, Phil Mikelson, Rocco Mediate, John Cook, and Tom Kite. The less than nice: Fulton Allem, Billy Andrade, and Curtis Strange.
The lesser known players and stars also seem to behave much nicer. Many fans do not recognize them while walking the grounds. Until they tee off and are introduced, some are difficult to identify. I always looked for their name on their golf bag or their caddy’s vest. I never cared for Faldo, Seve, Olazabal, or Sergio. They always seemed cautious around Americans. The South Americans and Mexican players were very friendly, like Cabrera, Jimenez, Villegas, the great Chi Chi, and on the women’s tour, Lorena Ochoa. But the Japanese golfers, like Matsuyama are very shy since they do not speak much English.
I dare say noting compares to teeing off at Pebble Beach for the first time. And the walk down 18 for a tap in birdie is equally thrilling. Do it at least once in your life, and I guarantee you will never regret it!