Pure Insurance Championship Through the Players Eyes

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In September,  The First Tee of Greater Houston participants Christian Rodriguez, Ethan Korock and Mallorie Luitwieler competed in the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach. Playing alongside PGA TOUR pros, they had the experience of a lifetime. Read more about their exciting week in their own words. 

Christian Rodriguez

My time playing in The Pure Insurance Championship was amazing. I started off my journey with the plane flight from Houston to Los Angeles and then a connected flight to San Jose. I hardly fly on planes, so I was a little nervous, but at the same time I was very excited. We landed in San Jose and then took the drive to Monterrey. The drive was amazing. There were so many beautiful mountains and the weather was so nice. Our first stop was Pebble Beach. I had butterflies in my stomach from just walking around all the shops and The Lodge. I went to check in and got settled with all the instructions for the week. I bought a jacket from the Pro Shop because it was cold compared to Houston. I spent the rest of the day putting around the Green between the Lodge and all the shops. I was still very nervous, and I was still trying to soak it in that I am at Pebble Beach. In the evening we had an introduction to the Tournament and a welcome at Poppy Hills Golf Course. This was the time where we met our pro that we would play with. I was paired with Grant Waite from New Zealand. We had dinner and I got to meet everybody from the different The First Tee chapters and made new friends.

The second day of the trip was my practice round at Pebble Beach and I was very excited. I started off my morning bright and early at 5:30 am with some meditation and going for a jog around the beach. I had a tee time at the course at around 1:30, so right after I ate breakfast I headed straight to the course to practice and to get familiar with the area. I hit the range for a little bit but spent most of my time around the greens observing how the ball reacted. I hit the course hours later and I was so amazed of how beautiful Pebble Beach was. I played my practice round with an amateur and his caddie, and I had a really good time. I played all the holes that the legends played. I was in awe of walking in their footsteps. I finished my round and later in the evening we had another ceremony called the Legends and Leaders which we had people talk about the core values of The First Tee and what they mean to them. I was very motivated at the time because they all had a story that I could relate to and they were very inspirational. This night I met Tom Watson and that was very cool.

The third day I had my practice round at Poppy Hills it was at 7:00 am. I usually like playing in the mornings because it’s so calm and quiet. I got paired with Kirk Triplett. Mr. Triplett was very nice, and I got to know him well within the 18 holes that we played. He was helping me a lot with yardages and elevation and how to read the greens better. He was telling me stories about all the places he has been and who he has played with and I thought that was cool. I played well this day and I was confident going into tomorrow. For the rest of the day I practiced and went back to Pebble Beach and just putted. We had a pizza party later called the Chevron S.T.E.M night where we learned about how science, technology, engineering, and Math and how it relates to the game of golf.

My fourth day was the big day. My first round of the tournament at Pebble Beach. This is where Grant and I played our best ball round including his caddie Mr. Travis. I played well helping Grant with a few par saves to keep things going. This allowed us to shoot 3 under together. Grant and I got to know each other a little bit better and we talked about our golf game and just where we came from and so on. I really enjoyed the course because of the scenic views and how nice the course was. My favorite hole was #10 because it was right by the water and I just like the way it looked from the tee box and the green just a beautiful view. After the round we had a concert featuring the group Train near the 18thgreen at Pebble. I had a really good time watching them perform and it brought up a lot of childhood songs. I also met Bernhard Langer and that was so cool.

The fifth day was the second round at Poppy Hills, which was a better fitting course for my game. Grant and I were the last tee times for the day. We started off pretty good and we kept things solid. I played very well with 4 birdies helping in our team effort. Grant and I finished our round 8 under par making the cut to play at Pebble Beach the last day. Grant eagled the last hole #18 and that was clutch for him. I was very happy to play Pebble the last day because I worked so hard the whole week practicing and studying the course and it was just a great feeling.

The last day was at Pebble Beach and I was very excited and focused. I was warming up on the range and I met Fred Couples and that was amazing. He is one of my favorite players ever. We teed off two groups behind him and Tom Watson. I liked Pebble Beach a lot and I enjoyed it even though I didn’t play too well in the final round, but I was still very happy to play one of the nicest courses in the world. I made lasting memories here and enjoy myself completely. Grant and I finished up 7 under and we both didn’t have our A game, but that’s just golf not every day is going to be the same. After the round we watched the leaders come in and had some smoothies and talked to some of my friends about my time here at Pebble Beach.

This was one of the best weeks of my life, just getting this opportunity to play in something special as this. I made some great memories and met some great people as well. I really enjoyed my time with Grant Waite and his caddie Travis. We had a good time with our 3 days together. I would like to thank The First Tee of Greater Houston at Law Park for supporting me in my journey to Pebble Beach. But this week is one of the weeks that I will remember forever and ever.

Ethan Korock

The time I spent in California at Pebble Beach was insane! There was so much to do during the week from speakers at the Core Values dinner to a concert put on by Train. I had the time of my life there by meeting new peclple and building new relationships, but the best time was playing with my pro, Loren Roberts. He helped me with my putting and giving me tips to improve, as well as giving me a strategy to playing Pebble. I played on the historic Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills Golf Club and had the most fun getting to know my pro and the amateurs in the little time that I had there. I was fortunate to be able to also play a practice round with Dan Forsman as well as some great amateurs. I was able to meet Tom Watson and Fred Couples, and even made the cut to play on the last day and finished 20th! The PGA TOUR Champions had the entire program set up to where we were treated just like the Pros in the tournament. It was an amazing feeling that has confirmed my dream in one day playing on the PGA TOUR. I met some great people frorn the First Tee and have memories that will last a long time and even help me in the future. I would like to say thank you to Pure Insurance, PGA TOUR Champions and The First Tee for letting me play and have the opportunity to represent The First Tee of Greater Houston.

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