Being obsessive about both the game and collecting golf books, today we focus on a little know and obsure book “The Crosby: Greatest Show in Golf” published in 1975 by Doubleday and written by Dwayne Netland. The book focuses on a tournament rich with history and tradition, whose origins are sometimes overlooked.
The Crosby, otherwise known as “The Clambake” was a Pro-Am tournament hosted by Bing Crosby and first played in 1937 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. The first event featured both Fred Astaire and Zeppo Marx as amateur players. The Pro-Am continued at Rancho Santa Fe until World War II. The 1939 Pro-Am featured the only husband and wife team to play together with “Babe” Didrickson Zaharias playing with her husband George.
After the Second World War the tournament moved to the Monterey Peninsula and was originally played over three courses: Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. During these years Ben Hogan shot an incredible 63 during a practice round at Cypress Point during the 1949 tournament. It’s too bad they don’t play at Cypress any more since the couse has obtained legendary status it would be nice to see it on TV played by the best players in the world.
The field at “the Crosby,” now the “AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am” has always been star-studded and has included Bob Hope, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sean Connery and Joe DiMaggio.
The picture below is from the 1956 Crosby which was the last competitive appearance in a tournament for both Ben Hogan and Bing Crosby.
The pro-am is still played today over the Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills golf courses. Poppy Hills will be eliminated from the rotation in future years in favor of the restored “Shore” course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Back to the future, which is good, restoring two out of three of the original courses. Maybe there is hope that Cypress will return one day to the rotation.
This book takes you through the rich history of this famous event and includes many interesting pictures such as the one above of Sam Snead with a full head of hair playing at the 1938 Crosby at Rancho Santa Fe.