One of the most fun events on the PGA Tour each pro golfer paired with an amateur/celebrity/musician/titan of industry, and having players teeing off on both No. 1 and No. 10 on each course makes The American Express in Palm Springs this weekend one of the more unusual tournaments of the year.
You’ll see famous people. You’ll see CEO’s of companies that make things you use every day. You’ll also see five-plus hour rounds and lots of terrible play.
But if you’re curious, here’s how all of it works.
Instead of the usual Tour event where players are all on one course and there’s a cut after 36 holes, this event has a cut after 54 holes and players will play three tracks once each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The three courses are Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
All the pros that make the cut, as well as the Top 25 pairings in the Pro-Am via net score, will advance to Sunday’s last 18 holes at Pebble Beach.
Each PGA pro is paired with an amateur golfer, and they are a team. The low score on each hole between the amateur and the pro counts towards the team score. But this includes handicaps for the amateur, so if the amateur makes a par on a difficult hole, you’ll likely hear someone say “par net birdie.”
That’s because based on your handicap, you’ll be given an extra stroke on the more challenging holes. How do players know what their handicap is? They report their scores after playing at least three rounds of golf that can be competitive or not, and an online calculator does the rest.
The pros are competing for two trophies as there’s a regular PGA event and the pro-am competition, but only their individual score will get them paid. Unless the amateur wants to buy dinner if they make the cut.
And if an amateur scores well enough to make the cut without their handicap, unfortunately for them they’re still not playing on Sunday. Only the pros can play for the cash.