- Check in online and avoid entering the clubhouse
- Stay six feet apart from other golfers
- Don’t use carts or caddies; carry your bag
- Don’t share tees, balls, clubs, etc. (don’t touch anyone else’s balls!!)
- Don’t pull the flag or use bunker rakes
- No handshakes or high fives!
Tonight, we are having dinner at one of our favorite places, The Daily Grill. We have dined at the locations in DC and San Francisco before this. Tuesday night, we will have dinner at the Tommy Bahama Tropical Cafe, another one of our favorites.
I am looking for a reasonable priced golf course for tomorrow. So, far, if I can get to Cimarron before 8am, I can play for about $50. If all goes well, I may head out to PGA West or LaQuinta on Thursday. Wednesday is sightseeing and shopping day with Sheri and Buddy. We may also take the tram to the top of the mountain as well. Very touristy, but a great view, as I recall.
We are only a block or two from the El Paseo shopping area. It is THE place here in the Desert, so I imagine we will be there often. This is really my second trip here, as most of my previous visits were to the older Palm Springs area. And, my first golf excursion was here at La Quinta with my friend and fellow traveler, Mike.
I actually ended up at a golf course called Woodhaven today. And I hurt my back on the back nine, and ended up with a 39, for an 18 hole total of 82. It must be the sun, or the water, or the bad back. I have not shot that low in a long time. If I could only putt, I would be dangerous. Sheri and Buddy rested, so we went out for a great lunch at a place called Goody’s Cafe.
One of the guys I met today playing golf lives in his motor home on a permanent basis. He stay here during the winter. Then the rest of the year, he goes were it is cooler, like Oregon, Northern California (Monterey), Idaho, Washington, and Montana. He has also driven cross country several times. I forgot to ask where he stores is winter stuff. But these old guys around here are tons of fun, and decent golfers. I could see spending a winter here when we stop traveling so much.
Time to head out to the pool, or spa, or both. Then a nap. Then dinner. What a life!
Of course, staying at a dog friendly hotel like the Bay Park, allows us to bring the dark haired, scruffy, and other ruffian-like canine of ours, Buddy Budster (now we have our little Labradoodle, Lexi). His presence changes the entire dynamics of our visit. No fancy restaurants, since we tend to eat at outdoor cafes, or get takeout food for the room. Lots of walks on the many trails along the wharf and beach. A little shopping at the outlet malls along the way in Gilroy and Cannery Row. But always time to see dear friends, like Marci’a, Nancy, Presley, John, and Clint (just kidding).
So, Carmel by the Sea, or simply just Carmel, was founded back in 1902, then incorporated in 1916. Its first claim to fame, generally noted by outsiders, was a strong devotion to the arts. Hence, the legacy of numerous art galleries throughout Carmel and the greater Peninsula area. We like it most for its “dog friendly” attitude. Dogs are allowed most everywhere, except indoor dining establishments. The lone exception being the bar and lounge in the famous Cypress Inn, owned by screen legend and American sweetheart, Doris Day. One unusual law is the prohibition of high heels on the uneven sidewalks without a permit! However, it is not enforced, rather intended to be a deterrent to prevent lawsuits. So much for finding a babe with CFM shoes!
The population of Carmel is just over 4000 people. Of course, the first Europeans here were the Spanish, led by Cabrillo in 1542. Then, after sixty years, Vizcaino discovered what is now known as Carmel Valley. However, colonization did not occur until 1770 with Portola, along with the Franciscan Fathers, Junipero Serra, and Juan Crespi. In 1849, Monterey became the first capital of California. By 1771, the new Mission Carmel was completed. In fact, in 1874 when Father Serra died, he was buried in the Mission at his request. Of course, many of us native Californians have read about his rather colorful and naughty past. Perhaps he was the first of many.
But on the lighter side of things, one of the big attractions here is the weather. It could be dark and stormy elsewhere in Northern California, but quite nice for shirt sleeves, and Bermuda shorts for golf (even in winter). And the arts and theater continue to flourish, both as part of their legacy, and for economic reasons.
As you can tell from the above photo, and contrary to vehement denial by “insiders”, the landmark and iconic tree has been replaced at least once. Nobody will admit it. Many famous writers, artists, and photographers made the sojourn here, including Ansel Adams. And one of my personal favorites, John Steinbeck wrote many of his best works about life here in the area. The Jeffers family built Tor House, where he welcomed the likes of George Gershwin, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Lindbergh, Sinclair Lewis, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Of course, I prefer the large swatch of heaven, developed by Samuel F. B. Morse, known as the Links and Lodge at Pebble Beach, where the likes of Jack, Arnie, Tiger, Ernie, Payne, and Bing have triumphed over the years.
Then in the 1930s, music bared its beautiful dulcet tones, in the form of the Carmel Bach Festival. And the famous Monterey Jazz Festival has always attracted the biggest and best names in jazz. These names include Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, B. B. King, Charlie Mingus, John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, and Stan Getz. Do you remember the phrase, “There is a Mingus among us?” And who of you out there know the time signature to Brubeck and Desmond’s iconic “Take Five”? I think I just gave you the answer.
But despite all of these assets or attractions, the best part of Carmel is just being here. The vibe is touristy, but decidedly local. The weather is generally supportive to almost all outdoor and indoor activities. The shopping is broad and eclectic. Just the walk up and down Ocean Avenue is still a thrill, after all these years. Finding a small or large purchase is just a bonus. Window shopping here, tends to fill the senses more than Rodeo Drive, for us. And walking down the street with our dog is enough adventure to fill a travel diary.
Of course, walking down Ocean Avenue, or any other street always increases the likelihood of seeing friend or foe from the home turf. As the saying goes, “you never know who is watching” applies to this area. And if you have never done it, tramp on down to Carmel Beach, take your shoes off, and go for a walk or job on one of the most famous beaches in the world. Buddy loves the beach, the sand, and the wind (and Lexi, even more so). The smells of the beach, the view of Carmel Bay and Pebble Beach, and the wind swept Monterey pines add to the romance and lore of the pristine and beautiful place.
Lots of fancy cars parade down the street, any time of day or night. Perhaps a red Ferrari, or a yellow Lamborghini revs their engine as we cross Ocean Avenue. The tinkle of wine glasses mixed in equally with the sounds of barking dogs, and children begging to go to Dennis the Menace Park down the road. I prefer the soft swoosh of the champagne cork, but by now, I am sure you get the picture. And perhaps this year, if we are extremely fortunate, we will see Doris at her Cypress Inn.
Fast forward to 2020. We are staying in downtown Carmel for a change, but it allows for nice walks with Lexi in the downtown area and sunny, sandy Carmel Beach. We usually end up in Monterey or Pacific Grove for dining, since it seems better suited to dining with a dog. And perhaps a visit with a few of our friends?
We arrived Friday afternoon, after a stop at the factory outlet stores in Gilroy. We saw the sun peeking out from the soft cloud cover, revealing the magnificent Monterey coast and bay. The highway exit for Pebble Beach and Seventeen Mile Drive is a welcome sight. We checked into the Lodge, and got to see our dear friend Carol (from Peru). We settled down for a quiet and relaxing afternoon.
Little did we know that we were assigned the loveliest of suites on the 18th green of the golf course. What a glorious view of Carmel Bay. What can I say? I think I am in heaven.
But first, I walked the grounds, along the Eighteenth fairway, then back up behind the #3 green, over to the Tennis Club, the Spa, Casa Palmero, and back over to the shops surrounding the practice putting green, over to the Market, and over to the Equestrian Center. The polo field is actually used as the driving range for the ATT and US Open golf events!
Saturday, after a nice breakfast here at the Lodge, we headed over to downtown Carmel for a little retail therapy, walking, and maybe a light lunch. Tonight is a big celebration of someone special’s birthday. It is also my brother Bob’s birthday today. And yesterday was our friend Cesar’s birthday in Lima, Peru.
But first, we hit the Pebble Beach outlet store down on Cannery Row. Then we headed to downtown Carmel for some retail therapy. I was able to buy Sheri some special denim jeans for her birthday. And she was able to get them altered, almost on the spot.
We also saw our friend Susan, who is having a bit of a rough go with family and friends right now. But it was nice to see her and catch up with her on all the latest. We also found our foreign electrical adapter (all in one) at the Tumi store. BTW, the Wilkes Bashful store is already gone from Carmel Plaza. I guess there are not enough Willie Browns down here on the peninsula.
I never get tired of seeing this, whether bathed in brilliant sunlight or covered with a blanket of fog. And if you want to avoid the fee at the gate, tell the ranger that you are going to the post office at Pebble Beach. The park personnel cannot keep you away form a Federal office by charging a fee.
When we stay at the Lodge at Pebble or Inn at Spanish Bay, we get the use of a Lexus, preferably a red convertible, when we stay here. Today it will be silver. On any nice day, the drive is enhanced by a sprint on Seventeen Mile Drive with the top down. A stop for some refreshments is always welcome.
The forest is impressive by reason of its rich abundance of cypress trees and the Monterey pines. You will also drive past picturesque beaches, isolated cliffs, the famous and often photographed “Lone Cypress”, the Pebble Beach Golf Course (my favorite in the entire world) and the “Lodge at Pebble Beach” Hotel, where rooms cost $500. Many kinds of gulls live in the Seal and Bird Rocks. Often you can spot deer, sea lions, and harbor seals there too. The Cypress
Along the street, home made signs were plastered, for buying and selling tickets. Guys with big beer bellies were sitting on their lawn chairs, drinking beer at 8am in the warm Georgia sun. Cars would stop, buy and sell tickets, and move on, sometimes sharing a beer with the scalpers. The Masters is a way of life here, no matter what side of the tracks you live on.
As I passed the Waffle House, Kenny Rogers Chicken, Arby’s, and Dairy Queens, I finally saw the sign that said, “Masters Parking”. I turned in to the big dirt lot, only to see John Daly and Davis Love’s huge motorhomes in the parking lot. Walking to the entrance, a guy asked me if I had an extra ticket. He perked up when I told him that I did, as my son was not able to make this trip with me. He asked how much, and I decided I needed some karma, so I gave it to him.
Walking through the gates, the excitement I felt kept building, until I saw the merchandise tents and toilets. First order of business, get rid of some coffee. Second order of business, buy some Masters souvenirs. I went a little crazy, as I bought things for my son, my friend Mike, and myself.
Then I had to take a look at Magnolia Lane, where members and participants drive up to the venerable clubhouse. I saw several players arrive, like Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal. Of course, Augusta National has members such as Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates, though I doubt any of them have time for golf.
Then I had to see the huge oak tree behind the clubhouse, where the television and radio interviews take place. Then I meandered over to Butler Cabin (quite small), where the green jacket ceremony takes place for the television broadcast. But I wanted to walk every hole of the course. I wanted to see what I have seen on television since I was a little boy, before I even understood golf, or knew about Palmer and Nicklaus.
The course is magnificent, a soft carpet of green, surrounded by Georgia pines, completely blocked off from the urban blight of Augusta. The azaleas were in full bloom, creating a sea of color matching the best gardens in Sunset magazine. All of a sudden, I did not seem to care that this Southern white boy club excluded women and most minorities.
As I walked the course, I stopped many times to watch the players, and observe the crowds. I was not the only one to come from far away. I saw New Yorkers, Midwesterners, foreigners, and lots of Southerners. I saw Dads with their sons. And grown men with their Fathers, drinking in the glorious sunny day at the Masters.
Among the many things that distinguish the Masters from other golf tournaments: the refreshment stands and toilets are permanent buildings! Only the merchandise tents were portable here. Everything else stays here, year after year, as no other tournament does.
Then, the moment most of us weekend golfers wait for, the first view of Amen Corner, and to hear the roars echo through the Georgia pines. The first time was around 10am, and kept repeating itself throughout the day. This is indeed, the pinnacle of the golfing world.
Around 11am, I got hungry and headed over to the nearest refreshment stand. I bought a tuna sandwich for about $2, but was impressed to see they still sold pimento sandwiches. They also sold headache powders! No fancy jalapeno nachos, pizza, gyros, or falafels here. Just the basics, at 1950s prices.
I know I will visit again, but with my son Matt. We will watch the tournament, and we will play some golf in Georgia and South Carolina. And I want him to see and feel what I did on that glorious day in April. But I was able to parlay my practice round tickets into Thursday, 1st round ticket. Fancy that!!!!