Phil Mickelson almost always uses the same silver dollar ball marker when he plays golf.
He uses a replica silver dollar on the greens at every tournament he plays, except when he plays at Pebble Beach Golf Links and in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
When Mickelson plays golf at Pebble Beach and on the tournament's rotation through the Monterey peninsula, however, he doesn't use the usual replica silver dollar. Instead, Mickelson uses a genuine silver dollar his grandfather held for many years. The coin is from around the turn of the 20th century, and the Morgan silver dollar is worth some $31 in mint condition -- although this one isn't anywhere near that condition.
You see, Mickelson's grandfather, Al Santos, was in the crop of original caddies at Pebble Beach, which opened for play in 1919 and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019.
Santos, who was 9 or 10 years old when he started working at Pebble Beach, was tipped the silver dollar after one of his loops. He kept it instead of spending it, occasionally rubbing it with his fingers because it made him feel richer and better off than he was at the time. He wished for a better life for his family.
Eventually, Mickelson got a hold of the silver dollar, and he uses it specifically at Pebble Beach in an emotional connection to one of golf's most special places.
“There’s a few things that within our family that go back to this place where my grandfather grew up here and he was one of the original caddies in the caddie group,” Mickelson said. “And he would go around here for 25, 30 cents a loop. And when we would talk about this place and what it meant to him growing up, and so there’s an emotional tie to this place. I don’t think it has anything to do with why I’ve played well here in the past, but you never know, it’s just I always enjoy coming here.”
According to Golf Digest, Mickelson first used the coin as a ball marker for the 2004 Masters, which was the first of Mickelson's five major championship wins.
Mickelson is now a five-time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, tying Mark O'Meara for the most wins in the event. The coin may not have any magical properties, but it does seems to give Mickelson a remarkable connection to his past.