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Original Issue

Mr. Pro-Am

This is the time of year I like to go on tour. Not a concert
tour--January and February aren't good months for that--I mean
the celebrity pro-am golf tour. For myself and the other celebs
lucky enough to be invited, we are now in prime time.

I played in the Bob Hope Classic, which was a blast, two weeks
ago and in the Phoenix Open pro-am last week. The attendance
Wednesday in Phoenix was more than 50,000, they said, and I
don't doubt it. I signed about that many autographs. That's
really why I go: to sell records, sign every last autograph and
line up putts for my team. I'm not there to win. With my two
handicap, I'm not much help. What am I going to do, shoot 66?

The best part about Phoenix is the 16th hole, a par-3 that's one
of the loudest places I've ever been. The hole is also the site
of my most memorable pro-am moment. I made a hole in one there
in 1993 and won some couple a house. Officials had drawn the
names of 65 people, each of whom was assigned a pro-am team. If
anyone made a hole in one, the person assigned to that team
would win a $175,000 house and $25,000 in cash. I hit a sand
wedge that landed four feet right of the hole, hopped up and
backed into the cup. The place went nuts, as did the guy who won
the house.

I play in Phoenix to get ready for this week, the AT&T Pebble
Beach National Pro-Am, which is the Masters of celebrity
pro-ams. You play three rounds--four if you make the cut--with
just one guy, your pro partner, and you count one low ball. For
a decent player like myself, that's much more fun than the usual
Wednesday pro-am with four amateurs who get lots of strokes.

After Pebble, I'll play in Tucson and then at Bay Hill with
Arnold Palmer. I was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in
November and called Mr. Palmer to ask if he would induct me. He
agreed on one condition--I had to play with him in his
tournament's pro-am. I said, "Oh, gee, let me think about that."

My only problem with golf is that I'm just good enough to think
that if I'd applied to the game what I applied to music, I could
play with these touring pros. In my heart I know I made the
right decision. That's why I'm happy to play in pro-ams, do the
best I can and have a big time. I'm real good at that last part.

Vince Gill and Joel Edwards missed the cut at the '97 AT&T.

COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN Gill prepped for Pebble Beach at Phoenix. [Vince Gill golfing]