It's San Francisco: Get the fish
Amazingly enough, no one out here seems to be talking about the Monster.
No, the good people of this great town instead are sharpening up on the difference between foursomes (alternate shot) and four-balls (better-ball) as the eighth Presidents Cup touches down this week at Harding Park, a great old municipal layout restored to its original glory a few years ago.
The golf doesn't begin until Thursday, but the interesting bits commence Wednesday morning (10 a.m. here, 1 p.m. back East) when the team captains hand-match the next day's matches. Foursomes lead off Thursday and there are six matches, which means each of the 24 golfers plays on the first day. That's one more way in which the Presidents Cup is superior to the Ryder Cup in terms of format; at the Ryder Cup, there's two years of bs about who makes the team and so on, then four men on each side, one-third of the golfers, sit out. Which is dumb, in this view.
Anyway, there's plenty of time for golf talk later on, but first a San Francisco story if you will (and the name of the principal will be left out, so as not to cause him further embarrassment.) Understand that this is one of the world's great places to visit and even a guy caught in the Big Shake here 20 years ago this month – and the earthquake is remembered here like it was yesterday – still loves the place.
In a terrific city for eating, there's a great old can't-miss restaurant called the Tadich Grill. Hit it last night off the airplane, thanks very much. It's right there at 240 California Street, at the bottom of a big hill (surprisingly enough). It has been in business for 160 years and not all of the waiters are day-one guys. But it's a legendary place, with some of the best seafood you'll ever get. Ask if they have any fresh sand dabs today; they often do and, grilled just so, the fish alone is worth the flight out here.
So, the story. The day after the 2000 U.S. Open, the one Tiger Woods won by a hundred shots at Pebble Beach, four golf writers, including this one, were playing a round at Half Moon Bay, a nice oceanside linksy kind of layout halfway back to San Fran. One of the writers has a red-eye flight back to Toronto and yours truly says, "Well, after golf, we can have a nice dinner and I'll drop you at the airport. You like fish and shellfish? Yeah? We'll go to the Tadich Grill. You won't get better seafood.''
All day we're touting the seafood, the selection and the freshness, and the neophyte is fired up. He can't wait for the freshest fish he'll ever have. So we get to the Tadich and stand in line (they don't take reservations) and sit down at the counter, which is the proper place to experience the crazy waiters yelling at each other and so on.
The new man scans the menu, which always includes a couple of non-fish specials, for those with allergies, or whatever. Then he gaps out and before anyone can stop him he orders . . . pork chops. Something he could get anywhere.
They looked at him as if he were crazy. Some of us still do.