Pebble Beach

Baldwin Makes Waves With Pebble Opportunity

Reliving the sights, sounds and emotions of a memorable week

Mark Baldwin is the quintessential golf grinder. He has been a touring pro for 16 years, chasing the dream across more than a dozen different tours. Now 38, with a young son at home, Baldwin is at a crossroads: he and his wife, Sarah, have decided that 2021 will be his last season unless he can finally break through. On Jan. 28, Baldwin received the golden ticket: a sponsor’s exemption into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, setting off a madcap scramble to cash in on this priceless opportunity. For his caddie needs, he turned to his longtime wingman Ryan French, the bard of professional golf’s dreamers. Captured here is their ten-day odyssey, spanning their departure from Baldwin’s home in Phoenix through the preparations at Pebble to the thrills and challenges of the tournament rounds and then back again to Phoenix to try to qualify for the Waste Management Open. French wrote a daily diary and podcasted every night with Baldwin, and a variety of Fire Pit staffers were on hand to capture photos and video, led by the tireless Colt Knedler. Scroll through the week below for an intimate look at the glory of the grind of life in the big leagues.

Tuesday, Jan. 25

For the first 16 years of his career, Mark Baldwin didn’t receive a single sponsor’s exemption.

Monday, Jan. 31

After a few practice rounds over the weekend, it’s all about balancing preparation, embracing the experience, and being fresh and ready to go come Thursday.

Getting Settled in at the Clambake
How’s this for starters? A shiny Lexus, spectacular courses and (free) rooms at the Inn
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As Mark starts his week at Pebble Beach, he and Ryan talk about how they got here, goals for the week, and finding the balance of enjoying such a fantastic opportunity and not forgetting this is a workweek. Listen below.

Tuesday, Feb. 1

Mark and Ryan get their first look at Pebble Beach Golf Links…but not before the team plays a little prank on Ryan!

Ryan French comes across as a nice Midwestern guy but he has a mischievous streak and is always stirring things up in the Fire Pit group chats. On Tuesday morning at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, we decided he was due for a little payback. We enlisted our friends Steve John, the tournament director, and Anthony Gallino, who this week is director of caddie services, to play a prank on French on the first tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Citing his earlier tweets from MPCC, they informed French he had flagrantly violated the club’s social media policy and was therefore banned from the grounds, effective immediately. Baldwin was in on the ruse and sold it like a young Brando. Watch for yourself….

Operation French: The Prank at Pebble

Life is Good
Free clubs, free money and only a few screwups as the Pebble Beach Pro-Am rolls ons
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Wednesday, Feb. 2

Thoughts on Pebble, the pairings party, and final preperations.

An Unforgettable Day (and Night) at the Clambake
Mark and I get our first glimpse of Pebble Beach and then come up aces at the pairings party
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Thursday, Feb. 3

Round One at Spyglass with Steve Young, Peter Jacobsen, Fluff, Huey Lewis and Ben Rector.

A Spectacular Scene at Spyglass
Mark Baldwin fired a bogey-free 69, but what happened between shots was every bit as exciting
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Still buzzing from their opening round, the duo sat down for a quick chat to relive some of their favorite moments from Spyglass. Listen to the podcast below.

Friday, Feb. 4

We used the word “grind” a lot, but that was a grind. 

A Beautiful Grind at Pebble Beach
Mark Baldwin didn’t have his best stuff, but he stayed in it by scratching out an even-par 72
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Saturday, Feb. 5

The Baldwin Brigade grows as good vibes propel Mark to a 5-under 66.

See You on Sunday!
Mark Baldwin went from flirting with the cut line into the top 25 with a round to remember
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Following an electric Saturday round, the guys weigh in on what it means to make the cut.

Sunday, Feb. 6

A windy, slow-paced Sunday brings the duo back to reality.

Reality Bites
Pebble Beach was dreamy for Mark Baldwin, but a harsh Sunday (and Monday) was a reminder of the cruelty of professional golf
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Mark and Ryan caused quite the stir over on Twitter! Check out their week in tweets below.

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