Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crosby Weather

If you grew up in Central California’s Steinbeck Country – the Salinas Valley and the Monterey Peninsula – or watching golf on television from other parts of the country, you are familiar with the term “Crosby weather”. It refers to the smörgåsbord of weather the Monterey Peninsula may experience in the period from January to mid-February when the Crosby Pro-Am (now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) has been played over the years.

Sportswriters and sportscasters like to dwell on those occasions when the weather during the tournament is poor;  windy, cold, wet – there was even a snow delay in 1962 – but residents of the area prefer to glory in the particularly fine weather we sometimes experience at this time of year. When the rest of the country is hunkered down, enduring blizzard conditions or just plain frigid cold, we are just as likely to be enjoying sunshine, blue skies, and temperatures in the 60s – if not the 70s. A round of golf at the Peninsula’s most challenging courses – Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links are the current rotation – can be a grim day out when the weather is dire, but treading these fairways on a fine, sunny day is any golfer’s idea of heaven.

It was clear and sunny in the area today (the Tuesday before the tournament), though there was more of a breeze than most golfers would feel comfortable with were they to encounter it on the more exposed, seaward holes on the three courses being played this weekend. The weather forecast for the weekend predicts clear weather, highs in the mid 60s and light breezes – 5 to 6 mph from the north Thursday & Friday, dropping to 3 mph and quartering from SSE to SSW Saturday and Sunday. For the landlubbers, this means a helping breeze on Saturday at Pebble for 18, hurting for 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10, cross for 6, 8, and 17.  The SSW breeze (onshore) on Sunday means a little help keeping drives in the fairways on 9, 10 and 18; helping on 8 and 11, hurting on 6 and 17, where the big left-front bunker comes into play with a hurting breeze and a back-left pin. These effects will likely be negligible because the winds will be so light, but it’s best to be aware of even light breezes on the seaward holes; the more sheltered inland holes probably won’t be affected at all by such frail zephyrs.

Some notable names are missing from the leaderboard for this weekend’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am—Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, and Matt Kuchar, for instance—and I guess they all have their reasons for staying away (Tiger Woods has 3 million reasons to scratch the AT&T from his schedule – that’s the amount of the appearance fee he is pocketing for playing in the sandbox in Dubai this weekend – though he probably also wants to take another shot at Westwood and Kaymer over on their turf, so to speak, while they’re coming off of poor performances at Qatar last weekend), but I can’t for the life of me imagine turning down an opportunity to play these courses under these conditions.

The players who are skipping the AT&T, whether playing in Dubai or taking a week off at home, will be missing a chance to play some of the finest courses in the USA (including one which is arguably the finest) under the best possible conditions—no skewed fairways, insane rough or billiard-table fast greens like the USGA’s version of Pebble when they overhaul it for the US Open—and the kind of benign, crystal-clear weather conditions that make it hard for natives of the Central Coast not to feel smug, especially when we turn on the TV and see the weather in the rest of the country.

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