Ed. note–Yesterday, we came across this Hunter S. Thompson-esque take on a Celebrity Pro AM golf tournament from the Facebook feed of Clayton Corn and asked if we could re-publish it here. He was kind enough to oblige. This is one of the greatest stories we’ve read in quite some time. Enjoy!
This is a true story.
Dateline: February 4, 2009, Pebble Beach, California.
I am a golfer, not a very good golfer, but a golfer none the less. I’ve gotten to do some amazing things because of it. I haven’t played much lately, but I can honestly say that most of the good things that have happened to me over the years started on a golf course and because of one man, Pat Green, I got to spend a LOT of time there. I have a tour bus load of stories to tell about Pat and golf but we’re going to start at numero uno. This little gem cannot be topped and it’s taken me five years to put it to paper (err word processor, err whatever…).
Pat asked me to be his caddie when he was invited to play in the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. We haggled a while about how much it was going to cost him to hire me, whether I’d be flying business or first class and what five-star resort I deemed acceptable if I was going to schlep around his clubs and watch him peel it into the Pacific Ocean in front of a national television audience. I wound up writing him a check for $1000, driving myself to California and staying at a HoJo in San Jose. Okay, that part’s not true but we did wind up sharing a cozy room at the Inn at Spanish Bay for a week. See: Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
We flew out on Monday to settle into our digs. Pat occasionally likes to walk when we play and as such he had a very light golf bag he traveled with. No problem for a stepper such as I, except when we tried to open the door to the room upon checking into the hotel it was half blocked by a brand new Titleist staff bag. You know, just like the ones you see in the pro shop of your local muni that could easily hold EVERY CLUB IN THE ENTIRE SHOWROOM! The cumbersome bag was emblazoned with Pat’s name and every pocket was stuffed with swag. Clubs and all the entire contraption weighed in at 47 pounds.
Not pertinent to this particular story, but this golf bag would, on Friday of that week, be placed by yours truly upright on what seemed to be a reasonably steady surface only to prove me a “f@%*ing amateur!” by it calamitously falling over during Henrick Stinson’s backswing one fairway over. I got yelled at.
As part of Pat’s invitation to the event he was asked to perform a couple of numbers for what they call the Clambake. The Pebble Beach Pro Am is one of the longest running events on the PGA tour. It was started by Bing Crosby in the ’40s and back then they had a big party on the beach to celebrate the kickoff of a week of revelry between golfer and actor. Today a gentleman by the name of Clint Eastwood has replaced Bing as the tournament host and the Clambake is held at the Monterrey Convention Center as a thank you to the 2500+ volunteers it takes to put on the tournament. Many of the celebrities (I should say one-time celebrities because some of them were decidedly D-listers) would show up and do their schtick.
Ray Romano was the emcee. Kevin James was his foil and hilarity, I mean real, professional, oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-puke-because-I’m-laughing-so-hard hilarity ensued. I followed Pat to the green room a few minutes before we were supposed to take the stage. Free booze and peel-and-eat-shrimp. Awesome. The green room itself was tiny. Really just a curtained off section of the backstage area. I had just imbibed my first Dewar’s (Note—it was free.) and was ordering my second when in walked The Outlaw Josie Wales himself (cue the theme music to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly), only Mr. Outlaw looked more like a stately old professor than a gunslinger. Corduroys pulled up beyond where one would assume his navel to be, an old cardigan covering a plaid pocketed shirt and hair that would tempt Einstein to offer him a comb.
Holy mother of Batman, I’m standing four feet away from Clint Eastwood! He reaches out to shake my hand. “Hello, Mr. Eastwood! Thanks for having us,” is what I wanted to say. It’s certainly what I tried to say, though what I actually said was “Uh, hi, uh, Clint, uh, thank you for, uh, do you mind if I call you Clint? Uh, I gotta go…” Trust me, Pat said something similar with at least one F-bomb. Then he got his picture with him. I’m not one to stand on posterity so I have no photographic proof of this encounter, as with most of this story you’re just going to have to trust me.
After our portion of the show we were standing by the side of the stage as Kenny G put the crowd to sleep. A little woman with a clipboard walked up to Pat and informed him that Mr. Eastwood requests his presence at a dinner party Friday night. He promptly puts his arm over my shoulders and says “Sure, if my wife can come with me!” She looked at me quizzically. I just shrugged. She acquiesces and continues about her business of inviting celebrities over to other celebrity’s parties. We didn’t give it a second thought really assuming it would be a couple hundred people at a hotel somewhere near the golf course. Just another night of crowded hobnobbing as happens at events such as these.
After the round Friday (and the aforementioned entertaining humiliation of the Stinson fiasco) we arrived back at the room to find a leather-bound invitation for Pat Green and guest to an address in Monterrey at 7 pm.
The home is a beautiful Tuscan style villa with a fountain in the middle of its circular drive where a valet relieves us of our spartan Chevy Malibu. We step into the portico assuming we’re the first ones to arrive. There’s a friendly young gentleman in a paisley vest serving wine and I take him up on his offer. I didn’t realize I was standing in front of a small door until it swung open and hit me in the elbow sloshing wine all over the floor in front of me. Startled and slightly offended in the moment I whirled around to find an exceedingly contrite Andy Garcia already reaching for a towel from the bartender. “I am so sorry! Here, Let me get you another glass,” he says as he replaces the empty in my hand.
Okay, so we’re not the first ones here and this is not the two hundred nameless faces at the hotel cocktail party we were expecting. When I see Andy’s gorgeous wife follow him out the door after the commotion it then occurs to me finally that I’m really not supposed to be here because I’m really not Pat’s wife.
Right about then Huey Lewis walks through the portico. He gives me a quick nod and proceeds along to the other much more consequential people in the room. I’ve known Huey since he recorded on a Phil Vassar record I played on a few years prior. I had spoken to him at length, in fact I bummed a smoke off him, outside the convention center during the Clambake.
As the ridiculously famous guests start filing in I look at Pat who’s staring back my way with a sort of “Holy s**t!” look on his face. I’m certain my face said the same. I walk over to him and grab him by his arm and nonchalantly whisper in his ear that tonight I’m not his keyboard player, I’m not his buddy, I’m sure as hell not his caddie… I’m his agent!
I saw a whoosh of relief wash over him and he vehemently agreed. I don’t know if that made me more welcome, but it sure made me feel less of a fool in the moment. And so it came to pass that the ruse was enacted and I, for a moment, became someone who does something I know nothing about in the presence of people who know everything about it.
As the crowd grows and the foyer fills up, I move, along with Huey and Andy who are in a very heated political discussion (they are diametrically opposed to the policies of one Barack Obama who had just weeks earlier taken office), into the living room. Pat got swept up into other conversation so I stood in the corner munching and swilling whatever the servers kept coming by with.
Finally, mercifully, Mrs. Eastwood appears and announces that dinner is about to be served. Everyone who knew what they were doing started filing out the back door of the house. Pat and I fall in line. Clint is shaking everyone’s hands as they pass him on their way out and when we get to him Pat takes his hand, thanks him for having us and they both turn toward me. Pat says, “Clint, I don’t know if you remember meeting him the other night, but this is my agent, Clay.”
Clint takes my hand in his and looks me square in the eye then back at Pat and says in his best Dirty Harry voice, “This is your agent huh?”
I squeeze his hand firmly going for the two-handed shake trying to seem as genuine as possible, “Hi, Mr. Eastwood, nice to see you again. Thanks for ha…”
And that’s where this story should end, but no…
He has a good laugh. We all do only mine’s tinged with more than a little what the hell just happened?
We walked down a path in the back yard toward a banquet hall. A permanent structure I assume to be built with the purpose of hosting this party annually. This is not the Eastwood’s home. It’s the home of the chef who is preparing this evening’s meal and a better storyteller would know his name, but alas I wasn’t taking notes. I was doing good to remember my own at this point. Upon entering the hall the kitchen was to the left and abuzz with activity. To the right was a table for about twenty guests. I did a quick headcount to make sure I wasn’t number twenty one.
Everybody was talking to everyone else and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise which was probably a good thing at that moment. The friendliest face in the crowd, though I recognized most of them, was the one belonging to Jim Furyk (renowned professional golfer, for those who aren’t familiar). He was talking to a tall, incredibly handsome gentleman with salt and pepper hair who I recognized but couldn’t attach a name to. I wandered over to see if I could get in on the conversation and wound up standing there blatantly eavesdropping without so much as an acknowledgement from either. This went on for an uncomfortable minute or two when my savior arrived in the form of Tabitha Furyck, Jim’s wife. She apparently had been observing my awkwardness for a little while and decided to step in and help a brother out. She asked me how I was connected and I admitted that we had no idea what this event was, that I was Pat’s buddy from home and I’m trying like hell to not make a fool of myself. She laughed and took me by the arm and introduced me to Jim and the man he’d been conversing with, Stone Phillips.
She then introduced me to Michael Bolton, Kevin James, Ray Romano, George Lopez, Kenny G and Chris Berman. These were, along with their dates, wives or otherwise, as well as Huey Lewis, Andy Garcia and Jeffrey Donovan (from Burn Notice and the other celebrity in our tournament foursome), my dining companions.
Now it was obvious where Clint would be sitting. I went to the complete opposite end of the table and sat to his right. Pat sat to my left while Chris Berman sat directly across making for a surreal situation. It was like I was sitting across Chris’ sports desk eating badass pasta and clams while he rambles on about what a great guy our host is all in his RUMBLIN’, BUMBLIN’, STUMBLIN’ voice with his mouth half full of linguini and a knife and fork in either hand.
The food was incredible, to the point that I made an even bigger fool of myself by shooing the waiter away when they tried to take my plate to make room for the next course. As dinner neared its end and desert was being served, Ray Romano stood up out of the blue and told a filthy joke. (I’ll recount it in the comments section if anyone’s actually made it this far and wants to hear it. It’s really, really funny.) Kevin James, who through all of this has remained remarkably quiet to the point of seeming shy, stands up and follows suit. Stone Phillips is next followed by Ray standing up and commenting how awesome it is to hear Stone Phillips utter the word, “f**k.” Next is Huey, then Andy, Then Kenny G. George Lopez had us laughing so hard I thought I was going to lose my tiramisu all over Berman. And so it goes for a good half hour. The dirtiest jokes known to man being told by the funniest or most unlikely people on the planet. I quickly surmise that this is the whole point of the party. This is Mr. Eastwood’s idea of entertainment. And why not?
Then Clint stands up as if chiming in with his own joke only to thank everyone for coming, he congratulated Pat on his hole-in-one (oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, Pat made an ace on #15 at Spyglass the first day of the tournament in front of God and everybody, but most of our gallery didn’t see it because Peyton Manning was playing up behind us and, well, he’s Peyton F. Manning) and then simply said, “Good night.”
Just like that the party was over. The wait staff swooped in and cleared the table and we were in our Chevy headed back to the hotel within 3 minutes.
Neither of us spoke for at least ten minutes. Finally as we turn onto 17 Mile Drive I looked over and just as the words “I have to write about this…” come out of my mouth, he interrupts, “If you say a word about this to anybody, I’ll cut you. If my wife finds out about this and that you were my date? She’ll shoot me. Shoot me!”
Clayton Corn is a professional musician who has performed with numerous acts including Pat Green, ZZ Top, Waylon Jennings, Carrie Underwood and Lee Greenwood to name a few. Clayton is also an Austin based music producer who is always seeking interesting new projects. He portrayed an agent only once in his life…that you know of.