We all know what a bucket list of golf courses looks like. Augusta. St. Andrews. Some combination of Royal Melbourne and Royal County Down. Pine Valley makes many lists. And a staple almost as inevitable as the home of the Masters is Cypress Point.
The MacKenzie masterpiece isn’t just golf’s 6265 Rolex unicorn. It used to have a spot in this past week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, formerly known as the Crosby Clambake. For years, Cypress Point was a course you’d play alongside Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, a highlight of the week for so many amateurs that have driven past the 14th green and wondered what lies ahead out there.
The event moved away from Cypress Point for a damn good reason. The PGA Tour introduced an anti-discrimination policy in 1990 for tournament sites and Cypress Point refused to budge, keeping its membership entirely white. This forced the hand of Bill Borland, the chairman of the Monterey Golf Foundation and (uncomfortably for him) a member of Cypress Point, to change the event’s rotation from Cypress Point to Poppy Hills. (And now Monterey Peninsula Country Club).
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am should be a special, memorable event on the Tour calendar. It’s held at the cathedral of American public golf (hope that credit card has a high limit!) and involves some of the most famous figures in and around the game. But like an aging pitcher, the event has lost its fastball. Even worse, it’s starting to feel like it isn’t coming back.
There are multiple underlying issues. The Tour schedule is too busy. The early parts of the season are dominated by elevated status events and LIV alternatives. Hobnobbing with famous people and titans of industry just doesn’t have the appeal it once had for golf’s greats. Three of the top-20 golfers in the world showed up this week, and the biggest draw, Jordan Spieth, is at Pebble Beach not because of the tournament or its history but because he has a big blue logo on his golf bag.
So how do we fix it? As golf history continues to get more diluted, seeing the Pebble Beach Pro-Am inch toward the equivalent of an opposite-field event isn’t good for anybody and it definitely isn’t good for golf fans.
My idea is simple: Cypress Point. Bring it back both for the buzz (golf fans would geek out knowing they’d get to see Cypress Point in HD with drone shots, a SkyCam, and whatever fun gimmicks Sellers Shy and his crew could come up with) and as a teaching moment.
Spend the early parts of the week leaning on media outlets and broadcast partners to explain what happened in the ‘90s. Why did the tournament leave? What did we learn from such a moment? How has golf changed since a simple request of “can you accept a membership application from a Black person” was refuted so heavily that one of its members had to pull the damn tournament away from the golf course?
Also: how has Cypress Point changed? What does the membership look like these days? What is that club doing for the community or for the sport of golf or for minorities in the area to find the sport we love? And if the answer is NOTHING, that’s even more important to talk about! Because the membership at Cypress Point includes some of the most influential people in the world, and if nothing is changing, then why the hell are they a part of it?
The idea of history is to learn from both the good and the bad. You learn just as much from World War II as you do from the Treaty of Versailles because looking back at the shittiest points in human existence is a good reminder that we as a culture have improved. Maybe it isn’t the easiest thing to recognize day to day, but we have changed as a society. Sometimes it comes in small increments, and learning from those experiences never hurts. It makes us stronger and wiser.
So to me, it’s a win-win. We get to see Cypress Point back on your televisions. And we get to confront and learn from a gross time in golf history, and see what we’ve done to improve from there. All while giving the tournament itself a needed boost.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.