On The Road: Pebble Beach and a BYU Win at Santa Clara

Entering Santa Clara University. (Presten Norton)

Trips like last Saturday are the reason going On The Road is so unique and memorable. Originally due to its cellar-dweller status, Santa Clara wasn't included on the travel itinerary for this season. However, a few weeks ago when I noticed the Santa Clara game was early on a Saturday, I realized it would be possible to do a down-and-back in one day for the game...and the wheels started turning. I'm glad I was persistent in making this trip happen, because it turned out to be one of the most memorable days I've ever had.

Putting Together A One-Day Trip

Original Plan: Fly into San Jose late Saturday morning. Take shuttle to Santa Clara, watch the game, fly home. #FAIL. (no return flights from San Jose after 4:00) Next...

Plan B: Fly into San Jose late Saturday morning, take shuttle to SCU. Watch the game, take Cal-Train to San Francisco, fly home. It would be quick, but doable.

Friday morning we were making some last minute plans, when we realized that the train from SCU to SFO took over an hour and we would have to leave game at the under 8:00 media T.O. to catch an earlier train to SFO. #FAIL. What's the point of making a trip if we have to leave the game early? Next...

Plan C: Logistics aren't working, this is getting too complicated, maybe we should just scrap the whole idea. #FAIL. Complications in logistics just make trips more memorable. Next...

Once I had got my mind set on attending this game, there was no going back. It took another hour of researching Delta/United flight systems, Priceline.com and Google Maps, but it all paid off with a winner.

Plan D: Leave home at 4:30 a.m. to catch the 5:30 flight to San Francisco. From SFO, we'd rent a car because we knew the train wouldn't get us back to the airport in time to get home. The game would be over around 6:30, we could then race back up the 101 to SFO by 7, get the car turned in and be back in the terminal by 7:30 for a flight home at 8:05, that would land in SLC by 11:00 PM. #WINNER

The best part about the final plan was that now we had a car and more freedom because we wouldn't be relying on mass transit. Also, since the SFO flight was much earlier than the SJC flight, we gained a few extra hours to sightsee, so we definitely took advantage!

17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

We started out the morning at the Millbrae Pancake House as recommended by Greg Wrubell. If you're ever in SFO, it's worth the three minute drive from the airport. It's a cool little diner that has a western feel. The food is all made from scratch, the waitresses look like they've been there for 40 years, and it's totally a locals joint. Apparently if you go later in the day, the line is crazy long, but sorry Greg, we walked in at 7:30 and sat right down. A big breakfast was needed, because we had a crazy long day ahead.

After breakfast we had a little less than eight hours to kill until tip-off and we used all eight wisely. From Millbrae, we hit the 101 South and headed straight for the famed 17-Mile Drive at one of the greatest golf destinations in the world: Pebble Beach! We passed through Silicon Valley and all the farm lands en route to the coast. It about floored me to see shacks set up on the side of the road with the following sales: Avocados - 5/$1.00; Kiwis - 10/$1.00; Almonds - $3.00/LB; Artichokes - 10/$1.00. Definitely beats the grocery store prices I've seen in Utah.

We passed through Monterrey and paid the $9.50 fee to enter 17-Mile Drive (Best $9.50 I've ever spent on a BYU trip). The 17 mile loop encompasses all five courses of Pebble (Spyglass, Spanish Bay, Cypress Point, Poppy Hills, and Pebble Beach). The winding road has 21 different stopping points along the way to see the coast line, sea lions, the iconic Lone Cypress (Pebble's logo) and ends at the Pebble Beach Lodge.

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The views were amazing and the golf courses were all pristinely manicured. The only complaint I had was that I was only carrying a camera and not my sticks. I guess that only served to save me a few bucks, as a round at Pebble would've run me $520 plus another $100 for a caddie. That's a little steep for my blood...at least for a few more years.

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Just walking around the grounds at the Mecca of USGA courses was a sweet experience. Some may argue Augusta wins that title, but since I'm not the uppity-type, I'll take Pebble. The lodge has displays depicting many of the epic moments, clutch putts and historic matches that have taken place there over the years. There's also a great dining room and patio for guests that over looks the 18th hole and coastline, but when appetizers are over $20 and sandwiches are around $40, I settled for the aroma and ambience while I took pics.

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There's also a few boutique shops outside that surround the putting green. (Yes, the practice green is surrounded by a mini mall). Some of the items available if you so desire: $120,000 diamond ring, which was the President's Day sale price (usually $160,000); Collage of signed golf balls by every U.S. Open Champion: $21,000; Collage of signed golf balls by every Master's Champion: $18,000; a myriad of other signed artifacts, paintings and scorecards ranging from Francis Ouimet, Bobby Jones, Jack and Arnold, up through Tiger and Phil. Nothing in the shop was less than $8,000. It was rather impressive.

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On the way off the property we drove through Carmel, which is honestly seemed like a town created in a Disney storybook then dropped in some of California's most gorgeous coastline. All the homes had nicknames, whimsical designs and look like they came directly from a coloring book. I have officially added Carmel, CA as one of the places I'd consider owning a beach home. Now if only I had an extra few million sittin' around, I'd be set!

Santa Clara and the Game

We got back to Santa Clara about 90 minutes before the game. SCU is another campus that looks very clean and upscale, but many buildings seem to be modeled after Spanish Missions, just like most other WCC schools in California. The Leavey Center is a large building (nice for a change), that is completely surrounded by windows. The foyers were much larger than most other WCC gyms and the building actually had an arena feel to it.

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I was also blown away by the size of their LED screen, it was HUGE. With that said, it's a giant waste of money because during the entire game, they showed exactly ZERO replays. No bueno. But if you want to see commercials and sponsor's ads flashed on a 70' HD screen, then SCU is the place for you! The other downer to the game was that the BYU family section was right next to the band. By "right next to", I mean I could touch the drum set from my seat, literally. Many of you noted the annoying screeching girls at Pepperdine, well I'd take then any day over the SCU band, my ears are still ringing.

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Per usual I'll leave the game analysis out since most of you watched it and have read the reports from the pros since then. I did have two fun experiences during the game I'll share. First, I was sitting next to the Zylstra family and it was a blast. Momma Z was a great neighbor because she didn't care that I scream and stand up a lot, she knows the game of basketball, and she's very personable. She also made me laugh because she missed Brock's highlight reel fast-break dunk because the second he got the ball, she ducked and said, "Oh no! I can't watch. I'm too nervous." When she heard the roars, she looked up and I told her how great he finished. I told her she's gotta have more faith in Brock above the rim. She replied that she was glad it worked, but she didn't want to watch in case the front of the rim got in the way. Classic.

The other memorable moment came in the waning moments of the game. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (shame on you if you aren't) got my tweet that I'd be starting a B-Y-U chant as a shout-out to all of my followers when the clock got under 1:00. With about 50 seconds on the clock, BYU fouled a SCU player and put him on the line. I stood up as he got ready for the first shot, it was dead silent I and screamed B-Y-U at the top of my lungs and stomped on the bleacher...awkward. Luckily on the 2nd scream, the Zylstra's and others around me joined in and also stomped. By round 3, a few hundred joined in and by the time he shot the 2nd free throw, over 1,000 had joined in. It. Was. Awesome! The SCU student section tried to start an S-C-U chant to compete, but they were outnumbered. It made me smile when my phone began vibrating non-stop with texts and tweets of all those who heard the chants loud and clear on the broadcast. Mission accomplished!

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Once the game ended we had to bust it for the door. I made a much faster than usual stop at the locker-room entrance to shake hands with Coach Rose and a few players, then it was a mad dash for the parking lot -- we literally ran the entire way. We hopped in the car and booked it for SFO, it was 6:20 and our flight left at 8:00. Traffic cooperated and we got the SFO exit by 7:05, however the Rental Center exit signs didn't cooperate and we didn't get to the garage until 7:15, $#!&!. Since check-in closes 30 minutes before departure, we sprinted through the train station and to security. We ran out of security with shoes, belts, etc. in hand and down the concourse to our gate, no time to put em' back on. We got to the gate as our flight was boarding only to find it was full. Ugh.

The later flight was already oversold and the initial fear of spending the night in the airport waiting for the 6:00 AM flight was becoming a reality. Most other standby passengers left the gate to roam the terminal. Before we left, we stopped at an adjacent gate to ask an agent to make sure our names were on the list for the later flight. As she was checking, her radio went off and whoever the angel on the other end was, she said that they could take 4 more passengers to SLC. We didn't even wait for the agent to reply, we sprinted back to our original gate right as they were looking for passengers. Since the six ahead of us had bailed...we were headed home! We got back to SLC a bit before 10 to complete the whirlwind day.

For those keeping track at home, the final tally looked like this: 16 hours, 1200 miles flown, 250 miles driven, 5 golf courses visited, 1 arena occupied and 1 BYU victory. All in a day's work!

As a sad end note, it wasn't until I got off my flight to St. George on Sunday afternoon that I realized my trusty Oakleys weren't in their case. In the mad dash at Avis in SFO...they got left in the car. Not cool. A sad ending to an otherwise AMAZING day in San Francisco/Pebble Beach/Carmel/Santa Clara.

Quite a long post for a one-day journey, but it was warranted. I'll end it here as I don't want to wear out my welcome before our showdown with Gonzaga in The Kennel!

See you in Spokane.

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