Who Needs This Humiliation? You Do!

December 15, 2009

Even Arnold Palmer has endured rocky moments at Pebble. In the 1964 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Palmer overshot the 17th, and Jimmy Demaret (with microphone) quipped, "His nearest drop would be Honolulu." Palmer made a 9.

Even Arnold Palmer has endured rocky moments at Pebble. In the 1964 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Palmer overshot the 17th, and Jimmy Demaret (with microphone) quipped, "His nearest drop would be Honolulu." Palmer made a 9.

It's called suicide by golf.

I've done it. I know what I'm talking about. But maybe you're into as much pain as I was at one time in my squalid playing days. It's especially horrific when you get to Pebble Beach's famous eighth, ninth and 10th holes, or Abalone Corner, as I once named them in a moment of literary ecstasy.

Here's a perfect match. These holes at Pebble Beach are among the most scenic and challenging in the world, and you are one of the most average golfers any of your average golfing buddies have ever known.

Before you even get to 8, 9 and 10 you have to contend with the short par-3 seventh, where it'll depend on the wind whether you hit a driver or a wedge off the tee. Then you'll need to take at least two dozen balls to survive the three brutal par 4s that rank among the greatest anywhere.

The abalone will be waiting for you down below the cliffs.

And then there's the rest of the course to further torture you.

It's a chance to play one of the great layouts under U.S. Open conditions -- as if Pebble isn't tough enough already -- and do it before the glare of NBC cameras and perhaps even a gallery. I can't imagine why any average golfer wouldn't try to become the person to suffer the most humiliating and embarrassing time of his life.

The way to become this person is to write a brief essay of 60 words or less explaining why you deserve this opportunity because you're a pathetic, shameless golf sicko with a sickly average game who not only knows Gene Sarazen's real name but Phil Mickelson's shoe size. I might be able to help you with this because I've covered all four U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach, to say nothing of 16 Crosbys. Here are my essay tips:

Don't steal from James Joyce or Fyodor Dostoevsky. If you have to lift something from somewhere, go with a toothpaste ad. Don't try to be funny, even though you might be funnier than Conan O'Brien -- who isn't?

And you can probably avoid poetry without much trouble if you remember how much you hated it in school.

Good luck, and buy a new shirt if you win.

Jenkins on the 1972 U.S. Open

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated:

Jack Nicklaus kept a personal rendezvous by winning the prettiest -- and in some ways the most important -- U.S. Open Championship ever played. On the toughest course there ever was, he beat the best there are, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, plus a few of the usual lurkers who would have had to wire their sixth-grade English teachers for a suitable quote had they finished first. He won when he simply had to win, he won spectacularly and he won at Pebble Beach, a golf course which on this particular week was as mind-swerving as the serpentine 17 Mile Drive that leads to it.

Pebble Beach, in fact, almost played too great a role. For a while it appeared that the winner wasn't going to be a man, but the course. Pebble -- good old monstrous Pebble, Double-Bogey-by-the-Sea Pebble -- won every battle, one-on-one, even with Nicklaus. It was absolutely the ruggedest course of recent years for all four rounds, and the scores that it wrought in the 72nd Open from the very best players in the world more closely resembled those out of the early 1900s, when men used hickory shafts and swung in tweed coats, than anything in this broad-belt era.


Golf Digest, the USGA and NBC Sports will give one average American golfer a chance to play the U.S. Open course at Pebble Beach in June in the third Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge. To enter, go to gdopencontest.com and tell us in 60 words or less how playing in the Challenge at Pebble Beach, in a group with celebrities and with NBC recording the event for a 90-minute broadcast on U.S. Open Sunday, will significantly change your life. Dan Jenkins has covered 56 U.S. Opens, including all four at Pebble Beach, so we asked him to explain why every golfer should want this opportunity, even if the round might seem like torture.