By Andrew Pridgen
My first At&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was in 1985, the last year it was called The Crosby. My father drove me down and while I chased Gary Carter around the links (still the friendliest pro athlete I’ve ever met, I blame his time in Montreal) my father was able to follow Palmer, Travino and Snead—his favorite all-time golfer—with a similar boyish gait.
The real bonding between us happened at the 19th hole in the form of a Monterey hotel lobby bar called Livingston’s. We hoisted several-a post-round Shirley Temple/Martini toast that evening as my father swore Jack Lemmon winked at him before sinking a 24-footer.
Just as I was beginning to yawn and build my case for a room service grilled cheese, the architect of the Showtime Lakers; the only man to beat Lew Alcindor’s Power Memorial squad in high school—and then later coach Kareem to multiple world titles; the one thing on the Forum floor prettier than the Laker Girls, THE Pat Riley strode in in civvies (same slicked back hair but slapped atop a v-neck and khakis instead of a suit that would make Richard Gere fire his tailor) and sat at the table next to us.
Riley was definitely done with the masses for the day and three quick cocktails in it could be said he couldn’t even be bothered by the waitress making eyes at him. My father could see I too was leering and encouraged me to maybe ask him for his autograph on the course tomorrow.
I was unrelenting. And whiny.
Spying the carnage of cherry stems on the table, my father decided I’d had a few too many and cut me off.
He excused himself to go to the restroom and politely asked me to finish my grenadine and 7 and meet him in the hotel lobby “pronto” which meant now. Then and only then we’d talk about that grilled cheese.
As soon as he was out of sight, I turned to Riley and made him sign a cocktail napkin.
I folded the memory and stuffed it in my pocket, sprinting toward daylight. My dad was never the wiser—though I let him have my room service pickle that night because I felt guilty.
Years later, during a move, the Pat Riley autograph slipped from a box of sports-themed keepsakes and landed at his feet.
My father smiled as he handed the napkin back.
“I thought I told you not to bother the man.”
“You left the table. You left me no choice.”
“I figured as much,” he deadpanned. “That’s why I paid his tab on the way out.”
Crosby 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is Feb. 9-15. Take your son (or daughter) if you have one.