Workers get the course ready for this week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. (The Monterery County Herald)
Spectators arriving via shuttle bus at this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament will be dropped off at a different location, affording them with a different view of the grounds as they enter the venue.
And they’ll face stricter security measures as they proceed to the tournament this week in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, and threats made toward the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“Every year we do a pretty thorough analysis of our security guidelines and overall programs, and we made a change that was announced at the end of last year,” said Andy Pazder, Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations for the PGA. “Previously, tournaments were strongly encouraged to set up metal detection and wanding services at all of the ingress/egress points to our tournaments. For 2014, that is now mandatory.”
What it means to people planning to attend the seven-day event, which began Monday and continues through Sunday, is a metal detector and metal-detecting wands at the entrance and long list of items that won’t be allowed in the venue.
For starters, leave those big tote bags at home. The only containers that will be permitted into the tournament this year are bags 6-by-6-by-6 inches or smaller (a measurement that also applies to women’s purses), transparent bags 12-by-12-by-6 inches or smaller, and 1-gallon plastic freezer bags. The lone exceptions to these rules are larger bags that are determined to be “medically necessary,” and diaper bags.
Tournament security will turn away any spectators carrying backpacks (including clear backpacks), camera cases, mesh bags, large purses, seat cushions, tinted plastic bags, oversized tote bags, binocular cases, printed-patterned plastic bags, and folding-chair bags.
Tournament security may confiscate spectators found carrying items that are on the banned list, which also include laptop computers, fireworks and laser pointers, oversized lawn chairs, bicycles, video cameras, beverages, coolers, radios, TVs, signs and banners, and, of course, weapons of any kind.
Cameras are prohibited during championship rounds — Thursday through Sunday — but are permitted on the course Monday through Wednesday, during practice rounds.
All items are subject to search.
Cellphones are permitted, but must be set to silent.
Tournament officials also are asking anyone at the tournament to report anything unusual or suspicious to security personnel.
The PGA posts two security directors at each venue, and receives help from retired and active law-enforcement officers, FBI, state police, and other agencies.
“We’ve had security policies in place long before 911. Obviously we have a lot of high-profile athletes for whom we’ve had to provide a very high level of security over the years,” Pazder said. “But certainly things have gotten tighter, which is why mandatory wanding became something we felt we could no longer avoid in today’s world. So we’re probably even more vigilant nowadays than we’ve ever been.”
The new entry-point for tournament-goers will be a few hundred yards south of Pebble Beach’s par-3 Peter Hay Golf Course, where they’ll pass through the metal detectors , then stroll past Pebble’s newly constructed driving range and practice green, adjacent to the freshly minted Pebble Beach Golf Academy facility.
A gauntlet of vendors awaits, including a trailer where tickets may be purchased, the District 7 wine tent, a small merchandise pavilion, a tent housing the Northern California Golf Association, and the interactive AT&T Fan Zone Tour.
The Fan Zone mobile facility features 15-by-15-foot digital TV on its exterior walls, where spectators can stop to watch part of the tournament, as well as videos and other features.
Tournament goers then will cross a high, arching bridge that is also new this year.
Rain at Pebble Beach
Nearly an inch of rain fell Sunday morning on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, an overdue and very-welcome drenching that will change playing conditions at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, at least during the early days of the tournament.
Chris Dalhamer, course superintendent at Pebble Beach, said players might have anticipated hard, fast surfaces over the 18 holes due to the drought that has ravaged California this year, but the weekend wetness helped soften the course.
“We’re actually in real good shape. We got a good shot of rain on Sunday morning — more than we were probably hoping for, just because that softens everything up a little bit more for the professionals,” Dalhamer said. “But with the current conditions in California, and the lack of rainfall, we’ll take every bit we can get our hands on.”
Dalhamer said the course was dry and firm as the tournament approached — conditions PGA pros tend to prefer — but winter conditions enable water to stay on the course for a greater length of time, which helps growing conditions for the grass.
Dalhamer said the other AT&T courses —Spylass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club — received just over a half-an-inch of rainfall on Sunday.
Alcohol involved in crash
A state trooper's report indicates former Auburn and LPGA player Danielle Downey had been drinking the night she died in a single-car accident.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety report says the 33-year-old had passed another vehicle at a high rate of speed. She lost control, struck a tree and was ejected after her car overturned several times on Jan. 31.
Downey, Auburn's director of golf operations, was pronounced dead upon arrival at a hospital.
The report says Downey had drinks with friends at an Auburn restaurant before the accident. A friend, Diana Ramage says she tried to take Downey's keys because it appeared she'd had too much to drink.
Downey played on the LPGA Tour from 2006 through 2010.