Loud and proud, Club 15 returns to AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – Monterey Herald

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PEBBLE BEACH — Reclaiming its starting throne, Club 15 gave Saturday’s round at Pebble Beach Golf Links an infectious energy that the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am lacked last year.

“What is that?” asked a spectator seated in the bleachers of the 14th fairway.

“A party, I think,” his friend replied, looking behind his shoulders at the unusually spirited group of fans.

Actor Don Cheadle greets fans at Club 15 on Saturday. (Lucjan Szewczyk — Monterey Herald correspondent)

Perched between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of Pebble Beach, the highest point on golf courses and the most opportune place for cries to travel, the popular gallery laden with months of pent-up enthusiasm sounded the return of spectators to the Pro-Am – perhaps the most poignant sign of why crowds were missed at last year’s competition.

“This gentleman thinks he wants it hard, so let’s show him how hard it is!” Club 15 founding member Scott Larson called, pointing to a rushing amateur. His friends rose in response, devilish excitement radiating from the rowdy chorus of golf fans.

Founded by Larson 19 years ago, along with his brother Ted, friend Steve Kasper and a few others, Club 15 is first and foremost a celebration of the casual golfer. The original members, only 12 at the time, began congregating at the intersection of 14 and 15 to give fans a little, or these days, a lot more than the usually measured afterthought applause.

Now attracting hundreds of spectators, Club 15 has celebrities, pros and even the tournament itself indulging in the fun – this year more than ever.

Former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith starts at Club 15 on Saturday. (Lucjan Szewczyk — Monterey Herald correspondent)

For the first time, Pro-Am title sponsor AT&T provided Prime Club 15 members (those who claimed their positions at Pebble Beach from 5 a.m. Saturday) branded merchandise to advertise their official role in the tournament. Sporting a new outfit of bright blue shirts and tie-dye bucket hats, the band could be spotted, as well as heard, from across the course.

“Coming back and being adopted by AT&T…I think we can take it to the next level,” Larson said.

Although he’s been yearning for a more formal relationship with Pro-Am since starting Club 15, the opportunity to do so didn’t really present itself until last year. While sequestered on his couch for the 2021 tournament as COVID-19 sidelined spectators and fans, Larson set out to make the spectator business better than it ever had. been before.

He was not disappointed.

“The silver lining to it all is that we’ve had time to get to know the folks at AT&T better,” he explained.

The new Club 15 partner even provided the group with a freshly purchased teal sofa, replacing the black leather seat front row members had always brought for fans looking to rest between the swings.

Club 15 members plan their next stop on Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Lucjan Szewczyk — Monterey Herald correspondent)

Harris Barton, the former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman, took full advantage of the excuse to relax, sit down and grab Larson a drink before approaching the tee box. Invigorated for his shot, Barton asked the crowd for a favor before wrapping it up.

“Let’s welcome them back,” he smiled.

A quiet rumble soon followed, building suspense for the ex-49er’s final move.

Barton epitomized the palpable buzz, tossing his club in the accomplishment of congratulating the ball he just sent flying.

Former soccer player Alex Smith also praised the jovial atmosphere, accepting an official Club 15 baseball cap from Larson when his pass to the 15th hole arrived. At the end of the day, fan after fan was inducted into the collective, taking on the rest of the tournament with an added level of confidence that only Club 15 can provide.

“They feed off of us,” Larson said. “We are in the same boat.”

Bill Murray mingles with his fans as he visits Club 15 on Saturday. (Lucjan Szewczyk — Monterey Herald correspondent)
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