O'Hara revels in the American dream after eye-opening week at Pebble Beach

O'Hara revels in the American dream after eye-opening week at Pebble Beach


Talk about living the American dream. As a first taste of the glitz and glamour of the PGA Tour, Paul O’Hara couldn’t have asked for a better experience than a week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The Tartan Tour star enjoyed a charity event in the company of Clint Eastwood, sat opposite Gareth Bale at dinner and played his final round with Jordan Spieth. It was a world away from hastily battering balls on the range at the Lochview Family Golf Centre in Coatbridge during a dour Scottish winter. “Six days before I flew out I was just hammering as many balls as I could to get some practice in,” chuckled the former Scottish PGA champion.

O’Hara was in the midst of a golfing hibernation until he received an e-mail informing him of a place in the lavish, star-studded Pro-Am. So how did it come about?

“I’ve played with a man call Pat Hamill during the Carnegie Invitational at Skibo Castle over the last couple of years,” explained O’Hara. “He’s a big businessman and has played the Pebble Beach Pro-Am a few times. I shot nine-under at Skibo in his company last September and he thought that was unbelievable and said, ‘I’ll try to get you into the AT&T’.

"I never heard much else after that, though. But the reason I hadn’t was that Pat had been in a terrible car crash. He was lucky to survive. But once he’d recovered, he messaged me to say I’d got in. If it wasn’t for David Thomson (The PGA pro at Skibo Castle) giving me an invitation to the Carnegie event, I’d never have met Pat. It’s amazing how opportunities like this open up.”

It was an opportunity O’Hara grasped with both hands. The Scot may have been as rusty as the hinges on an outhouse door but he put in the hard yards, got his game back in tune and qualified to play in all four rounds to earn over $17,500.

It was a fine effort from a man who hadn’t had a card and pencil in his hand since an outing at the Highland Links Pro-Am on the Tartan Tour in early October.

“It was a massive leap in standard,“ he said of this eye-opening outing. “My season is basically April to October. January is very early for me. When I got out there I was tinkering with new drivers, new shafts, new wedges, some new balls. I was thinking, ‘what am I doing? The day before one of the biggest events I’ve played in and I’m messing about with driver heads and all that?’ I actually kept tinkering the whole event. In the circumstances I was very proud to have played in all four rounds.”

A final round alongside three-time major champion and former Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Spieth was the icing on the cake.

“Jordan and his caddie were great and we talked all the way, mostly about golf in Scotland,” added O’Hara. “It’s a great eye-opener seeing someone like that. His short game and scrambling ability is phenomenal and his touch around the greens is frightening.

"It was a massive event. It felt much bigger than the DP World Tour events I’ve played in. But I didn’t feel out of my depth at all. I just needed to be sharper around the greens and from the bunkers. That probably cost me three shots a round at least. But what an education it was.”

With his Tartan Tour colleague Greig Hutcheon earning a card for the over-50s Legends Tour recently, O’Hara’s admirable display in a world class field on the PGA Tour has underlined the quality of the competition on the domestic scene.

“The standard on the Tartan Tour is great,” he said. “The last six years or so has really sharpened up my game. If you’re not shooting in the mid-60s you’re finishing nowhere. You have to go low and it gets you into a real zone. No matter where you’re playing, you are going on the offensive. If you don’t someone else will.”

O’Hara is now hoping to carry this early season tonic into The PGA Play-offs in Cyprus in April, the first event on The PGA's national tournament schedule. 

“That’s a big one and getting a few DP World Tour starts would be massive,” he said of the potential bounty up for grabs. “Last week has given me fresh motivation and has got my year of to a good start.”

As for that pre-Pro-Am outing with Hollywood legend Eastwood? “It was on the wee nine-hole par-3 course at Pebble Beach,” said O’Hara. “He’s 92 and a bit frail but he hits it really nicely. He told one of the others in the group that I was a really good player … but he couldn’t understand a word I was saying.”

By the end of this American dream, it was O’Hara who had earned, well, a fistful of dollars.


Our Partners

  • Air IT
  • Banyan Tree
  • The Belfry
  • Coca-Cola
  • EVC
  • FootJoy
  • Gleneagles
  • PING
  • St. James's Place
  • Therabody
  • Titleist