Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California is ranked the third greatest golf course in the United States according to Golf Digest and fourth in the world according to Bleacher Report. Frank Donovan “Sandy” Tatum, former USGA president once regarded the 6,524-yard track as “The Sistine Chapel of Golf,” with arguably the most famous 16th hole in the world painting the Pacific Ocean.
It makes sense, as a result, that Cypress Point is also sometimes considered the most exclusive golf club in the world. If you don’t know a member (such as Clint Eastwood, for example), chances are, you won’t even get to take a swing on the driving range.
Fortunately for Cal men’s golf, it will have rare access to the prestigious course via the Stanford-hosted Cypress Point Classic: a two-day, Walker Cup-style tournament, which will take place Monday and Tuesday in Pebble Beach. Needless to say, the Bears are thrilled.
“I’ve yet to play Cypress, and I don’t think anybody else on the team has, so we’re all pretty excited. … so excited,” said junior Finigan Tilly.
Beyond the course itself, Cal men’s golf is itching for the last opportunity to show its prowess this fall, as the end of the Cypress Point Classic will mark the beginning of a nearly three-month-long hiatus from tournament play. The Bears are just beginning to heat up, too, now ranked No. 36 nationally, 40 spots ahead of their initial standing earlier this month.
“I think (going will entail) just enjoying the experience and enjoying a new format (the guys) don’t usually get to play in. But it’s going to be competitive. These guys will want to win every match — want to win the whole thing — so it’s going to be a good mix of fun and competition,” said Walter Chun, Cal’s Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf.
The classic’s format emulates the Walker Cup. Eight teams will split themselves into three two-man squads and compete in alternate-shot matches with an opposing duo for the first 18 holes. On Tuesday, the squads will split up again for a four-ball (best ball) competition. Cal suffered a brutal defeat at the hands of Stanford when it last played in the Cypress Point Classic in 2016 amid a downward spiral in that fall season. This year, however, the Bears are back with a rising blaze of confidence.
“These guys are believing that they’re capable of playing at this level. It’s one thing for me to say it. It’s like a parent saying, ‘Oh, go get ‘em Billy!’ but it’s another thing for Billy to believe in himself. … Now they’re starting to believe they can compete with some of the best teams in the country, and that’s all I can ask for,” Chun said.
Tilly is setting the pace for Cal men’s golf to keep up with the best in the country. The junior reached No. 95 in Golfweek’s individual collegiate rankings this week after his tie for third, 7-under-par finish at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational.
“If we can just put ourselves up there and beat a few teams … that would really help us going into the offseason. … I’m just going to try to bottle up (my confidence) and do the same thing (as last week). Keep it simple,” Tilly said.
If competition gets tense in their last invite of the fall, at least the Bears have one of the most prestigious courses in the world for reassurance.
Ethan Waters covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].