SMGA tees off; Northern Ireland’s McDowells, celebs playing AT&T Pebble Beach ProAm

By Richard Davison (Special to the Index-Tribune)

The Sonoma Men’s Golf Association returned to the links on Jan. 26, at the Paradise Valley Golf Club in Fairfield and, with the lack of rain, the course played firm and fast and the 26 members that made the trip were rewarded with sunny skies and barely a breeze.

The format for the day was to “beat your quota,” which was the total of 36 minus each individuals handicap.

In the end, Don Roesh, who showed that returning from foot surgery was not an issue, came out on top with a score of 28, nine points over his quota. Second place went to John Bogardus with his 24 total, six points above his total; while Tom Martin grabbed third with 21 points, five points over; Kay Groft was fourth with 17 points, three over; followed with three over by Jim Lybrand, Phil Rollins and Al Rappoport finishing fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, after a card-off.

In closest-to-the-pin action, Greg Tellis conquered the downhill third hole, hitting his shot to 24 feet, 5 inches.

Mike Lucas enjoyed the long and difficult eighth, his shot stopping 17-3 from the hole.

Roesh showed one reason he was at the top of the leader-board, as he dominated the back-nine par-3s with a shot to 22-9 on the 12th, and 5-8 on the water-guarded 15th.

The SMGA returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 13, at StoneTree Golf Club in nearby Novato.


It was 2010 when Graeme McDowell won the United States Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and his father Kenny ran out onto the 18th green and uttered those now famous words, “you’re some kid.” Kenny might be uttering those words again this week, as he and his son return to Pebble for the first time since that victory, this time to play as partners in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

It will not be the first time the two have teed it up in competition, they did play together in the Dunhill Links Championship, the European version of the AT&T, a few years ago. But with the history on this particular course with this father-son duo, it might be a little more special.

To get ready for the tournament, the two have played a stellar list of courses that would make anyone envious. The expedition started on Saturday of last week when they headed out to the San Francisco Golf Club, the AW Tillinghast masterpiec, just off Highway 280 in San Francisco.

After the round, they headed south and then ventured out onto the fairways and greens of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Sunday morning; braving the rain that swept in for the day.

Not to be outdone, Cypress Point was next on the list on Tuesday, a spectacular day on a spectacular course, certainly better weather than either Graeme or Kenny would get in their home of Portrush, Northern Ireland, this time of year. The remainder of the week will see them playing the host courses for the event, Spyglass Hill and, of course, Pebble Beach.

What is one thing Kenny wants to do while he’s here? Have a beer with unofficial host Clint Eastwood. For the younger McDowell, he’d like to build on the momentum of 2013 when he won twice on the European Tour and once on the PGA Tour.

Historically, Ryder Cup years have been good for him, and he looks to get his season off to a great start at a place that holds some fantastic memories.

The McDowells are in the field, but they are probably not the most well-known two-some at the tournament; that might go to Ricky Barnes (a Stockton product) and the Bay Area’s Tom Brady, who will be partners.

Or, perhaps it’s the “bad boys” of this year’s event, John Daly and Kid Rock, who makes his first appearance.

Coming off his Super Bowl disappointment of last week, Peyton Manning was a late commit to the event and will play with left-hander Scott Langley, in the same group as 49er great Harris Barton, and his professional partner, Greg Owen.

Andy Garcia and Don Cheadle are back for another year, but fan favorites Bill Murray and George Lopez are not, leaving a whole in the comedian department.

There are also a couple of females in this year’s field; Heidi Ueberroth, daughter of former MLB Commissioner and Pebble Beach investor Peter Ueberroth, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who will play with professional DA Points in the same group as Phil Mickelson.

Other sports stars included are Wayne Gretzky, Matt Cain and Andy Roddick.

It wasn’t too long ago that the event was a who’s-who of Hollywood; actors such as Jack Lemmon, James Garner, George C. Scott and Burt Lancaster all made the trip to the Peninsula.

In recent years, the corporate player has made a bigger impact on the event, with a few celebrity groups thrown in for good measure.  Tournament Director Steve John is hoping to get back to those glory years, where the fans all knew the celebrity players, at least somewhat.

Hoping to get five new faces a year, John would like to have a rotating group of celebrities that play, keeping the format fresh each year with faces that fans want to see.

Case in point is this year, which will see Kurt Russell and step-son Oliver Hudson teeing it up together, again, after being a successful duo with fans a couple of years ago.

With the growing number of stars playing the game, there should be no problem getting the cream of the crop to spend a week on the Monterey Peninsula playing golf.

The tournament runs through Sunday Feb. 9, with tickets available to buy at the event.