Lexus Champions for Charity at Pebble Beach: The World’s Premier Charity Golf Event
It’s Monday morning and I just returned from a week at the Lexus Champions for Charity Golf tournament at Pebble Beach.
And all I can say, is what a week it was.
I’ve never attended any event, let alone a golf tournament that was as well executed across the board as this one was.
From the hospitality, amenities, facilities, and attention to detail, and value it was truly something special.
In this post, I’m going to share a bit about what Champions for Charity is really all about, and then go into detail about the event itself, and what you can expect if you choose to attend it next year.
Video Recap of the 2018 Lexus Champions for Charity
Here’s my video recap of my experiences at the 2018 Champions for Charity event. As you can tell, zero fun was had 🙂
What is the Lexus Champions for Charity?
I’m willing to bet you haven’t heard about the Champions for Charity event before, as up until last month, I hadn’t heard about either.
The Lexus Champions for Charity event is a charity golf event held annually at Pebble Beach. It’s the culmination of a series of 150 local charity events hosted by Lexus Dealers across the country. For each event, the host is able to auction or raffle a trip for two to the finale each December at Pebble Beach, where Lexus hosts the 5 day event at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and The Links at Spanish Bay.
I met people that had been coming for 10 years or more, and there was one person who lost the auction at his local course, so he drove 4 hours to another local tournament so that he could win the bidding there.
After experiencing the finale event first hand, it’s not hard to see why people would go to such great lengths to come back.
This year was the 30th year of the event, and since it started it has raised over $420 million for over 5,000 charities.
That number completely blew me away.
During the tournament two person teams compete over three days and for the top 5 gross and top 10 net teams, money is donated to the charity of their choice.
The tournament is played across three courses: The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, and of course the world famous Pebble Beach.
So what’s it like to be a part of the event? Well, let me show you.
Day One: Arriving at The Inn at Spanish Bay
Upon arriving at Monterey Peninsula or San Jose airport, there’s a beautiful Lexus LX570 waiting to pick you up.
Lexus is the official car of Pebble Beach, so when you stay at either the Inn at Spanish Bay or the Lodge, you can still get the same Lexus shuttle treatment.
When I showed up at The Inn a Spanish Bay, everything was a well oiled machine. After I checked in, I was escorted to areas to make dinner reservations for the event Friday night, to the ballroom to get various swag and gear, and to the Lexus test drive desk where I could reserve a car to check out while I was there (more on that later).
It was nice to see the rooms at Spanish Bay have gotten a major overhaul since the last time I was there 3 years ago. They were modern, spacious, and the free snacks and fireplace were a big hit with our group.
Speaking of our group, I was accompanied on this trip by two other golf influencers (for lack of a better term):
Kyle Maze of Cart Barn Guys, and Ashleigh Albrecht.
Our 4th in our group for the event was Ed Hellwig who works with Lexus (and can get up and down from anywhere on a golf course).
The Lexus Welcome Dinner and Glow Golf
The first evening, we go a taste of just how far Lexus goes to pull out all the stops with this event.
There was a buffet dinner at The Beach Club that night. While it was casual attire, the tuxedo’d wait staff made every attendee feel like they were some place special (and they were).
All of the dinners and events were included in the package and featured a fully open bar.
One of the most fun events happened after that first dinner, when attendees headed back to Spanish Bay for a cognac and cigars nightcap, with a glowball green setup where slightly inebriated attendees got to try their hand at outdoing their friends.
Sidenote: Ashleigh beat everyone 🙂
Day 2: Pebble Beach Golf Links
Participants of the tournament played with a new team each day, and they did a shotgun start on a new hole each day.
As we were guests of Lexus and not actually competing in the tournament, we started on the 18th hole of each course we played.
So of course this means, day one, hole one, we start our trip on the 18th a Pebble Beach.
Nope, not intimidating at all.
It’s a little bit tough to describe the feeling of playing Pebble if you’ve never done it before.
It’s adrenaline and sensory overload.
For starters you have what is probably the most storied and historic course in the US.
So just knowing you’re playing a course where so many of the greats have won, and all have played is a bit overwhelming.
But then you have to contend with the some of the most spectacular and dramatic views of any golf course, ever.
It doesn’t stop. Crashing waves, steep cliffs, ridiculous houses – its sensory overload.
Not to mention throughout the course it’s one world class hole after another. After playing it for a second time, I think it’s pretty hard to argue against 4-10 being the best stretch of golf holes on the planet.
Despite 3 missed birdie putts under 4 feet, it was truly a magical day, and I was excited to have shot quite a few strokes less than last time I played the course.
Night 2 at the Champions for Charity: Dinner in the Ballroom
It was our second night that I we first realized just how all out Lexus goes for this event.
We showed up to our cocktail hour outside the ballroom at about 6:30 – not thinking about what would be inside.
When they opened the doors, what we saw was the entire space completely transformed for now the third time. The first day featured booths, displays and a handful of Lexus vehicles. Then that was completely scrapped for breakfast the next morning.
And now we were entering a moody, beautiful space that had just about every type of food you could ever want.
A seafood station overflowing with lobster, oysters on the half shell, scallops, and mussels.
A raclette station serving two types of the Swiss cheese.
Not to mention the main attraction of beef medallions, rack of lamb, duck confit, and more.
Day 3: Spyglass Hill Golf Course
When you start out playing Pebble Beach on a picture perfect 60 degree day, it’s tough to feel like things are going to compare. (Here’s a recap from the first time I played Pebble).
But Pebble isn’t just any ordinary place.
We started our morning with a clinic from Lexus Ambassadors Natalie Gulbis, Peter Jacobsen, and the legendary Johnny Miller.
It was quite the treat to see them dropping extremely helpful pieces of advice, making fun of each other, and of the occasional attendee as well 🙂
And served as a preface to our biggest surprise, and most memorable experience of the trip the following night.
We began our second round at Spyglass Hill, which I’ve heard many people say they like more than Pebble.
While I can’t say I agree with that (Pebble is my number one course of all time), it is sill a world class track and is the most stern test of golf at the resort.
I think it has one of the best opening holes in golf, it also has the coolest green at Pebble with the par 4, 4th that measures about 10 yards deep and 70 yards wide. It’s truly something special.
Each round had a hole in one challenge, where if you make an ace you take home a car. It was 17th at Pebble, 12 at Spyglass, and 16 at Spanish Bay.
None of us would be even remotely close until our 52nd hole of the trip where Kyle left it about 18 inches away at Spanish (see the video above for the shot.)
Sunset Photos in Monterey
After arriving to a bit of dreary weather on Wednesday, the rest of the trip the weather was absolutely perfect. Once we finished our rounds, with about an hour and a half of daylight left, it was impossible for me not to go snag a test drive vehicle and cruise up and down 17 mile drive trying to snag some photos.
The sunsets here are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it was made even better by the ES350 I took out on both Thursday and Friday afternoons. It’s nice to see the car get a huge upgrade from what it once was. Not only was it still incredibly comfortable, but you could almost get away with calling it sporty.
During these nights I was able to get some pretty awesome shots of Spyglass, Spanish, and event a few of the private Monterey Peninsula Country Club from the side of 17 mile drive.
That night attendees did a “Dine Around” where you could make reservations for dinner at different restaurants at the Pebble Beach resort.
We ate at the Italian restaurant Peppoli inside the Inn at Spanish Bay, and all I can say is wow. Do yourself to get the filet mignon stuffed lasagna – it was unreal.
Day 4: Test Driving a Lexus LC500
Saturday morning started out a little bit differently than the others.
One of the things I was most excited for on the trip was to take out a 2019 Lexus LC500 – their new 471 hp sports car that is absolutely gorgeous.
Due to a delayed flight on Wednesday, we had to reschedule – and it worked out for the best since we had a picture perfect morning to do it.
Lexus had a fleet of all of their cars available to drive, but what’s cool is that because of their partnership with Pebble, guests of the Inn or Lodge are able to take test drives of their own.
The LC500 lived up to all expectations and is a perfect marriage of power, luxury, tech, and comfort.
The only downside was figuring out how to keep it to under 25 on 17 Mile Drive!
Watch the video recap to see what it was like to drive.
Day 4: The Links at Spanish Bay
After Kyle and I took our drive it was back to Spanish Bay, which was the only course out of the three that I’d never played before – and I’ve gotta say, I really enjoyed it.
There were more ocean views than I expected, and the par 3 8th, was one of my favorite short holes at the entire resort.
While it often gets overlooked next to its siblings, I found it to be incredible enjoyable. Make sure to enjoy a beer at the fires out on the deck after the round.
Lexus Champions for Charity Awards Banquet
After our round at Spanish Bay, I was admittedly a little tired.
Between all of the golf, eating, drinking, and working to get photos and videos edited, it finally was catching up with me.
All I wanted to do after that round was throw on my robe and take a nap on the extremely comfortable bed in my room (did I mention their extensive pillow menu?).
But considering the beautiful sunset that was about to take place and that it was my last night, I knew I had to go out and try and shoot a few more photos and videos.
I found the perfect spot, and got some great shots.
The only problem is, upon getting back and beginning to edit everything for Instagram stories, I lost track of time. I threw on my jacket, and made it downstairs just in time for the banquet to begin.
And that’s when our fantastic host for the week, Johanna, dropped the news.
Not only were we sitting at the head table, but that evening we’d be dining with Johnny Miller and Peter Jacobsen.
Had I realized the experience I’d be having that evening, I’d have spent a little more time getting ready!
In between awards, and photos and video from the weekend was one of the most special meals I’ve ever been fortunate enough to have.
Johnny and Peter went back and forth telling stories of their playing days with all of the greats of the game.
They told stories about how they used to have to bring their own range balls to Augusta and he US Open.
They talked about some of the most memorable shots they’d ever hit.
Peter talked about the importance of gratitude, manners, and being present amidst a world attached to their phones.
It was an evening that I’ll honestly remember for the rest of my life.
Afterwards we watched as the greats took photos with anyone who asked, and genuinely seemed like they were excited to be there – which is always nice.
A Few Final Thoughts on the Lexus Champions for Charity Event
Throughout the week we met a lot of people. They all had different stories of how they got there, the charities they were playing for, and their most memorable experiences from their rounds.
It was cool to see dads and sons, husbands and wives, and good friends be able to experience one of the greatest golf courses in the world together. By the end of the week it seemed like everyone was friends. This kind of shared experience makes it impossible not to appreciate the good fortune we’ve had in life, and I think everyone there realized this.
While this might have been the most lavish of the 150 events Lexus helped sponsor this year, it was cool to learn about how they were playing a role in local communities.
One tournament alone donated over $43,000 to The Meyer Center for Special Children.
If you’re interested in competing in a local event or coming back to the Lexus Champions for Charity event at Pebble Beach next year, go talk to your local Lexus dealer and have them give you the information on opportunities within your area.
Thank you again to Lexus for allowing me to be a part of this incredibly special experience. I continue to be blown away by the opportunities that golf has presented to me and to all of the generous people I’ve met along the way.
I just hope I’m able to give back to the game a fraction of what it has given to me.
When is this taking place in 2019?