"A few years ago," as Crosby tells it, " Harris was playing with Doug Ford, and it was one of those real windy days. Harris had been all over the course with that big banana ball slice of his. When they came to the 16th Harris had a putt for a 4. Well, you know Ford. He's a man of few words and he likes to play golf quickly. So Harris looks over his putt and then he looks at Ford and asks how he ought to hit it. Ford takes one look and says, 'Just keep it low.' "
In recent years Crosby has had to forego playing in order to ride herd on all the administrative duties he has to supervise during the weekend. But before he quit competing, he almost won the tournament in partnership with Dick Metz. "There's a horrible story connected with that," said the founder with a wince. "Metz and I were right up there in the lead when we reached the 17th green on the last day. Dick's in the bunker, but I'm on the green with a six-footer for a birdie. If I sink it we'll probably win. So I'm standing up to the ball and giving it all this fancy business with my putter and waggling the club back and forth, and the first thing you know I knock the ball backward about three or four feet. That's one stroke, and naturally I miss the putt coming back, so we lose the tournament."
Even though Crosby has given up competing, his personality still saturates the four days of this delightfully soggy event. For the occasion he opens up the spacious modern house he owns on the border of the 13th fairway of the Pebble Beach course. He usually makes a bachelor weekend of it, inviting half a dozen or so of his friends to stay with him there. During the first three days, before the field is cut to the low 60 pro-amateur teams and the low 60 pros, Crosby follows the play on any of the three extraordinarily lovely courses that meander through the pine and cypress forests and across the sandy expanses of the Monterey Peninsula. With the starting field of the Crosby now grown to 300, each team now plays one round at Pebble Beach, one at Cypress Point Club and one at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. On the last day the final 60 teams finish up at Pebble Beach.
Crosby not only supervises the selection of those who get the precious bids to his tournament but he also tries to chat at least briefly with every one of the golfers he knows personally. In addition, he tapes radio shows, works in a few parties at the houses of friends in the neighborhood and often does a show for the Fort Ord soldiers. On Sunday night following the final round he gives an enormous steak dinner for all the competitors at which he himself awards the $50,000 worth of prizes that go to the pros and the hand-wrought silver pitchers and bowls and plates that go to the winning amateurs. That done, Crosby emcees a show that money couldn't buy. Phil Harris gets the laughs started, Jimmy Demaret sings, Lionel Hebert plays his horn, Don Cherry croons, Bob Hope clowns it up and the host himself delivers the kind of melody that made all this possible in the first place.
Year in and year out the Crosby is most likely the wettest, ruggedest golfing test in the country. But the 50,000 people who turn out to watch, and the more than 4,000 amateurs who always apply for the 150 starting places have learned how to overlook the elements. To them the Crosby is winter's real treat.