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The "Hope" and the "Clambake".

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Maybe it's just me but I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about the tournament at Pebble Beach. We both agreed that it's just not as cool as it used to be. It seems like the celebrities back in the 70's and 80's were bigger names and were much more fun to watch. The same thing goes for the Humana. When Bob Hope was around, this tournament was awesome! The field was much better.  Granted, everyone gets old and things have to change at some point, but it's sad to see what these tournaments have become. I have read some other posts about not watching until Sunday (the At&t) which I completely understand. It just seems to me that the events have lost some class. I 'm curious as to what you guys (and gals) think.

post #2 of 15

I kinda agree. Seems like Pebble was alot more fun to watch in the past. I like the idea of having "Personalities" out there and now it just seems like alot of the proam partners are simply rich guys who happen to be friends with one of the pros.

post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsknicks1 View Post

I kinda agree. Seems like Pebble was alot more fun to watch in the past. I like the idea of having "Personalities" out there and now it just seems like alot of the proam partners are simply rich guys who happen to be friends with one of the pros.

 

I think that in the past, the "personalities" were just as big (maybe even bigger), but they reserved all of their tomfoolery and jackassery for after the golf, at night, when the cameras weren't around.

 

In the past I think the celebrities cared a lot about the golf, not just hamming it up. So rounds didn't take fifteen hours, etc.

post #4 of 15

In the past there were more true "celebrities, not so many corporate big shots that nobody ever heard of.   Both tournaments have become more like 4 days of the typical Wednesday pro-am, and that's just a bore.  Pebble beach should host a top tier tournament, not the travesty that the former "Crosby" has become, with only a US Open once every decade or so like tossing the dogs a bone.

post #5 of 15

There were more Hollywood folks too. Now there are a lot of athletes and coaches, etc.  They tend to ham it up less.  Still, February stinks in New England and I watch to see some green grass.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

In the past there were more true "celebrities, not so many corporate big shots that nobody ever heard of.   Both tournaments have become more like 4 days of the typical Wednesday pro-am, and that's just a bore.  Pebble beach should host a top tier tournament, not the travesty that the former "Crosby" has become, with only a US Open once every decade or so like tossing the dogs a bone.

Totally agree with all of the posters above, but especially this.

post #7 of 15

I guess with a username of "Clambake", I must comment on this thread!     There is a book called "The Crosby: The Greatest Show in Golf" by D. Netland that presents a wonderful history of the tournament from its inception up to the book's 1975 publication date.   It's a great look at the history of what was once considered one of the tournaments most treasured by the pros outside of the Majors.       Other books such as Dodson's biography on Hogan also provide a lot of insight into the tournament and how it has changed.  

 

Originally started here in the San Diego area and played at Rancho Santa Fe CC, Bing's whole premise was to bring together a bunch of friends who were passionate about golf and even more passionate about partying.     Like many of his golfing celebrity friends, Bing loved to play and be around the top golfers of his time.      Many of the pros of those early days were much bigger carousers than what we see today, and the opportunity for them to be part of one big Hollywood-hosted parted occasionally interrupted by golf was something they loved.    Even the seemingly reserved Hogan loved the Clambake; he was somewhat infatuated by Hollywood celebrity and he was driven by a desire to "belong".   

 

In those early days, American celebrity was essentially movie stars.   Television was still in its infancy, and there was no such thing as the vacuous form of celebrity we now see with phenomena like the Kardashians.     Movie stars were huge in those days - they were our American royalty.    The Crosby gave the pro golfers the opportunity to hang with this royalty, and it gave the stars a chance to do what they loved to do best - drink, carouse and drink some more (one of Bing's close friends Phil Harris claimed he played out of the "Jack Daniels Country Club"), and play a little golf.    .   It was a classy event, with men in fine suits and mink-clad women holding martini glasses in one hand and using the other hand getting chipping tips from a US Open winner.  

 

But, the era of television changed all that.   Although TV provided access to the event for more and more viewers, the business side of TV also intruded with the dawn of sponsorship.    No longer could tournament organizers pay a purse out of the gate proceeds and a little bit of TV revenue - they started to require large amounts of money, and the era of corporate sponsorship began taking over the golf world.   Bing Crosby's widow, Kathryn, was quite dismayed at this change and eventually pulled the family's name and involvement off the tournament in 1985.   

 

The changes that corporate sponsorship brought were seen in two primary ways.   First was the inclusion of corporate executives in the ProAm to appease the egos of the big sponsors.    Slowly, the A-list stars such as Jack Lemon, Dean Martin, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson were dwindling from the ranks and replaced by CEOs from major corporations that were putting up the money.   Instead of Dean Martin, we get a Charles Schwab.   

 

Another area that saw the amateur ranks impacted was the influence of the TV network; as part of their deals, they also got to promote their business more as well, putting key stars from their TV seasons into the amateur mix as well.      But there still remains a bit of the culture that amateurs who play in the tournament get priority to be invited back the next year, so we have a lot of players like a Ray Romano who once was positioned in the tournament by the network as publicity for his show but is now past being relevant.  

 

So here we are today, and the AT&T Pro Am bears only a passing resemblance to the Clambake of old.    Like many things in life, what started out as a fun idea grew to the point where it became of such a scale that it attracted and required large money, and with that money came the changes that whittled away at the core of what it was in the first place.    It is probably only a short matter of time before the further decline becomes almost unbearable - can the the days of paid product placements with the amateurs be much farther off, with someone holding a Pepsi while being interviewed?    Will the infatuation with reality TV place its mark on the tournament, where the winner of Survivor 23 gets one of the coveted amateur slots?    Will the networks influence become even more dominant to the point where the whole cast of "2 Broke Girls" become the featured pairings?    

 

Sadly, those great days are long gone, and shall never return.......

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well said Clambake. You are absolutly right, those days are sadly gone. Even this week we will get reminded of golf's cooler time when they play Rivera (Hogan's Alley).

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

In the past there were more true "celebrities, not so many corporate big shots that nobody ever heard of.   Both tournaments have become more like 4 days of the typical Wednesday pro-am, and that's just a bore.  Pebble beach should host a top tier tournament, not the travesty that the former "Crosby" has become, with only a US Open once every decade or so like tossing the dogs a bone.

 

+1

post #10 of 15
namutavy.jpg
Just found this in the closet.
post #11 of 15
It's always so sad to witness the passing of an era. Nostalgia is truly one of life's greatest emotions.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TourSpoon View Post

namutavy.jpg
 

 

 

That's very cool.   What is it embroidered onto?    

 

One of the cool traditions Bing did with the tournament was to commission special whiskey decanters for each year's event (keeping with the theme that the Clambake was really just one big drinking party).    Here's one I have from the 1970 tourney.    There is a little shop at Pebble right beside the pro shop called "Links from the Past" and they have quite a few of these they sell for $200-500.    I found mine on eBay for $15.        They still do these each year for the AT&T, but they just aren't as classy or interesting looking as the decanters from Bing's day.

 

post #13 of 15

Nice, TourSpoon.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Nice, TourSpoon.


Thanks.

It's an old black hat with a brown suede brim. a2uzuqy5.jpg
post #15 of 15

Besides all the great background that Clambake provided I think one of the major shifts has been the wealth available to the pro golf ranks.  Back in the '30's, 40's and 50's a tour pro made a good but modest living - good by average man wages but not the millions of dollars seen today.  Movie stars and other celebrities had such immense wealth by everyday standards that they could afford to host a tournament and pay the prize money - 1st prize in the 1960 Crosby was $4,000.  The math is simply too different these days - top tour pros make millions in winnings and many times that in endorsements.  Instead of traveling from tournament to tournament in a nice Buick or Cadillac they have their own private jets.  In other words - they have joined the top ranks of celebrities. 

 

I took a look at the 1975 tour winners on Wikipedia - the year I was 15.  The west coast tournaments were dominated by celebrity names - Andy Williams, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jackie Gleason (Florida), Dean Martin, Glen Campbell. And top prize for the year was a whopping $52k at The Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic.  Used to watch a lot of golf back then with my dad and really miss these classic tournaments.  Of course I miss persimmon woods and balata golf balls too.  Sigh.

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