This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of LINKS.
By James Raia
In his 30-year acting career, Chris O’Donnell has escorted an eccentric blind man, played sidekick to a super hero, portrayed a heartthrob veterinarian and a secret agent.
But working with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, donning tights and a mask as Batman’s Robin, charming women physicians in Grey’s Anatomy, and saving the world since 2009 in NCIS: Los Angeles are all roles. Golf is real, part of O’Donnell’s life since he was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago playing with his brothers and friends. Now the 43-year-old father of five gets to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“It’s like the Super Bowl for me,” says O’Donnell, a six-handicap who has competed in the old “Crosby” more than a dozen times. “It’s like being a member of the greatest club in the world. There is so much history and tradition. It’s the best perk I get [for being a celebrity]. Inside the ropes, playing at Pebble Beach? That’s tough to beat.” It also helps explain some of his favorite courses.
1 Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Calif.
“Because of the history there and my history playing there.”
2 Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach, Calif.
“It’s the feel and shotmaking. I love the ruggedness. It allows you to score, but if you get into trouble it’s probably one of the most penal golf courses I’ve ever seen. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, it’ll crush you.”
3 Valley Club, Montecito, Calif.
“Because it was designed by Alister MacKenzie. It’s got one of the most beautiful clubhouses. It’s one of my favorites in a country setting. It’s perfect.”
4 Bel-Air, Los Angeles, Calif.
“It’s my home course now, so it’s sentimental.”
5 Shoreacres, Lake Bluff, Ill.
“I grew up in Chicago and it’s one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf anywhere.”
6 Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Ill.
“Again, growing up in Chicago, it has a lot of history and I have a lot of memories there.”
7 Pine Valley, Pine Valley, N.J.
“I think it’s the most beautiful course in the world. You can pick any hole on the course and it’s a signature hole on almost any other course.”
8 National Golf Club, Fort Washington, Md.
“It’s just thoroughly enjoyable.”
9 Augusta National, Augusta, Ga.
“It’s just a very fine place and, of course, the Masters.”
10 Merion, Ardmore, Pa.
“It’s such an amazing course. It has some of the best short par fours in the world.”