West Coast tournaments have a different flavor than those that come later in the PGA Tour season. When they tee it up, most of the rest of the country typically has cold and snowy weather. Usually you’re socked in under snow in Western New York, or you just came in from shoveling the driveway in Minnesota or Iowa.
You turn on your TV set and there are guys in short sleeves or—worst case—a sweater, playing golf. Soon you’re romanced by the vision of the West Coast swing and what looks like summer during the winter. You think of the Beach Boys, long for flip-flops and remember the smell of coconut sunscreen.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to love the West Coast swing.
1. It’s Sunny
There may be frost delays in Phoenix and Palm Springs, but it’s still four days of usually good weather. So forget the gloom of January in Ohio, the frost of February in Fargo. In the world of "follow the sun," the weather is always just right.
2. It’s Celebrity-Filled
Bill Clinton. Bill Murray. Tony Romo. Aaron Rodgers.
There are all manner of celebs, sports stars, CEOs and at the very least semi-important or amazingly wealthy people. What’s even better is we get to see them both enjoy and be humbled by our favorite sport. Better yet, when we watch them, we get to say, "Yeah, he chili-dipped that wedge just like I did last summer."
3. It Has Bad Golf Swings
Let’s face it, any tournament with amateurs can make Jim Furyk’s golf swing look as sweet as Fred Couples’. Every once in a while, there’s an amazingly bad golf swing like Charles Barkley’s, which just about makes you spill your nachos.
This year the crop should actually be pretty good what with the likes of Andy Garcia and Kenny G. Even Bill Murray, for all his antics, has a decent golf swing.
4. It Has Spectacular Views of Nature
Waves and whales in Hawaii and off the coastline of Carmel. Blimp-cam views of the cliffs at Torrey Pines. Sunsets in the desert. Endangered cacti and dangerous cacti.
5. It’s Fun
The 16th hole at TPC Scottdale became a party that accidentally broke out at a golf tournament. Gary McCord interviews people from a sofa at the 17th tee at Pebble Beach. After hours, the West Coast also has a few celebrity watering holes, like Clint Eastwood’s restaurants in Carmel. You just have to hunt them down.
6. It Has Classy, Semi-Historic Golf Locations
There’s nothing like a beverage of your choice on the rooftop of Riviera CC at the end of the day. Or a view from the back of the Lodge or the Tennis Club at Pebble Beach. You can feel transported in time and imagine Humphrey Bogart or Bing Crosby walking toward the clubhouse after a round.
7. It’s Short but Sweet
Like real blueberry or real strawberry season, it only lasts a few weeks. Then it’s over until next year.
8. It Usually Has a Sprinkling of Golf Stars to Start Speculation Going for the Season
Usually the first sighting of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson comes during the West Coast swing. You never know which tournament they will pick or how many. And it’s typically not both of them at the same tournament—except when they elect to play the Farmer’s Insurance Open—but it’s the year’s first sighting.
9. We Have Real Winners That Count for Something
By the time the West Coast season rolls around, we’ve been without a winner that meant anything since the end of September. Finally we get a winner that matters for the year, someone we will see at the Masters and THE PLAYERS.
10. It’s the Precursor to Spring
Forget Groundhog Day. Once you’ve gotten through the Northern Trust Open or Accenture Match Play, you know golf season in your area is going to start in about four weeks. Unless you are in Alaska.