PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (KION) The first round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament kicks off Thursday on the peninsula, but tee time will look a bit different on the links this year due to the pandemic.
"We’re faced in a COVID environment so therefore there’s no spectators, there’s no amateurs and this is a Pro-Am for 75 years, so this is the first time ever we haven’t had amateurs participating in this,” CEO and Tournament Director Steve John said.
On a typical year, fans huddle around the green and pack bleachers to
enjoy the golf and celebrity appearances.
Organizers estimate about 100,000 spectators come to the tournament over the course of the week. This pours much-needed dollars back into the local economy, hotels and restaurants, but this year spectators will have to watch from home and only the pros will tee up on the links.
“It’s very, very different. There’s no grandstands, there’s no sky suites,” John said.
About 150 professional players are entered into the tournament this year. 2021 marks the Pro-Am’s 75th anniversary.
“All the players will be tested—COVID tested—and then temperature tested daily and they’ve had 26 tournaments so far, the PGA tour and they’ve done a nice job with it. They create a bubble for the players, so very safe,” John said.
Typically, the event draws in visitors from far and wide, and when they need a place to stay, family-run inn Hofsas House Hotel, is ready to accommodate. They have repeat guests who come every year for the Pro-Am.
“It’s something that people look forward to year after year so admittedly, without having the spectator component to the event this year, I did get quite a few people cancel and rebook for next year; however, there are still people that are coming for the AT&T,” Owner/General Manager Hofsas House Hotel Carrie Theis said.
Theis said business was severely affected by the pandemic.
Even though the event will not be as big as in year’s past, the Pro-Am falls on a holiday weekend with Valentine's Day and Presidents Day. Theis anticipates this will be a busy weekend anyways, bringing local
businesses a nice boost after a difficult year.
Despite the pandemic, CEO and Tournament Director Steve John tells KION it’s critical the event still go on.
Money raised through the tournament helps support local non-profits across the Central Coast.
“We’re lucky to have a tournament. At the end of the day, you know, $10 million plus will go back to our community because of the AT&T pebble beach Pro-Am,” John said.
The hope is to return to the traditional pro-am format next year.
Catch the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am live this weekend on CBS starting at noon.