PEBBLE BEACH – Outside of the confines of Buffalo and perhaps his hometown of Firebaugh in the San Joaquin Valley, Josh Allen can still stroll around without being recognized.
A chiseled golfer with movie star looks, though, does at least create curiosity on the golf links, punctuated with 300-yard drives.
Allen, who is taking part this weekend in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the first time, has evolved into one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL. Yet, only a few fans seem to recognize the 25-year-old on the greens.
“Bills Mafia travels,” predicted Allen.
This isn’t his first trip to Pebble Beach. Three years ago, Allen was a guest of the U.S. Open as a sidekick to 49ers legend Joe Montana.
Few realized in 2019 that this 6-foot-5, 238-pounder was a quarterback and the Buffalo Bills No. 1 pick in 2018. Few took note because Montana remains one of the sport’s more recognizable athletes.
“We didn’t really talk a lot about football,” said Allen, who grew up a 49ers fan. “He (Montana) was coming off shoulder surgery and his arm was in a sling. He just reminded me of the importance of taking care of my body.”
Two weeks removed from playing in arguably one of the wildest NFL playoff games in the league’s 101-year history, Allen was calmly swinging golf clubs on some of the nicest courses in the world.
“Going from using a silent cadence because you can’t even hear your own thoughts, to your thoughts being the loudest thing you hear on the golf course – sometimes that’s almost as scary,” Allen said.
It was eerie silent at times Thursday as galleries flocked to find the likes of actor/comedian Bill Murray, who teed off 43 minutes earlier, while others wanted a glimpse at boxer Canelo Alvarez.
Going from playing in front of 80,000 fans two weeks ago to less than 100 on certain holes softens the adrenaline rush. But the mental approach remained the same for Allen.
“You cannot let your last shot, or your last throw dictate your next shot or next throw,” Allen said. “You have to be good on that end – of letting go and just trying to find out how you can best move forward.”
Allen had help from that standpoint Thursday, playing alongside pro partner Keith Mitchell and former Cardinals receiver and 2020 Pro-Am winner Larry Fitzgerald.
Both provided advice on certain shots for Allen, whose lengthy drives weren’t always as accurate as the 60-yard missiles he launches on the football field.
“You have to bounce back after a bad shot, just like you have to bounce back after an interception,” Allen said. “There’s a mental toughness you have to have as a golfer.”
Allen hasn’t had a lot of time to sharpen his golf game, having taken the Bills to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs before falling to Kansas City in overtime.
Allen rushed for 68 yards and threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns, including what looked to be the game-winner with 13 seconds left in the game before the Chiefs kicked a field goal to force overtime, then won it in OT.
After the game, a Facebook group called Chiefs Kingdom set up a fund to donate $13, signaling the final 13 seconds of regulation – to the Patricia Allen Fund (Allen’s grandmother), which benefits the Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.
Donations topped $300,000 in the first week, according to a Facebook post from the hospital, which said it began receiving donations in increments of $13.
“I haven’t really addressed it yet,” Allen said. “I’ve been off social media for a few weeks. But that was awesome. It shows the generosity of people in this country. We need more of that.”
The hospital became associated with Allen after Bills fans donated increments of $17 – his jersey number – totaling $1.1 million in honor of his grandmother, who died last year.
Allen was not completely without support Thursday, as a small contingent of fans were sporting Bills attire, including one No. 17 home jersey.
After sinking his putt on the fifth hole, a couple of fans yelled “Go Bills,” causing a few others to pull out their cell phones and snap a photo of Allen, who humbly smiled, while his eyes were hidden behind sunglasses.
The reality is Allen hasn’t played a lot of golf of late. In addition to throwing for over 4,400 yards and 36 touchdowns this past season, there aren’t a lot of places to golf in Buffalo in the winter.
“If I could golf every day, I would,” Allen said.
He struggled with his chip shots at times onto the greens, even picking up the ball on one occasion when a shot rolled well beyond the hole.
A retired couple from Arizona following Fitzgerald politely asked who is Josh Allen? An argument can be made that a coin flip cost him a shot at playing in the Super Bowl.
Allen, who walked along the fairways in between shots with Fitzgerald, has thrown for over 14,000 yards and 103 touchdowns in his first four seasons in Buffalo, revitalizing a franchise.
Before becoming a No. 1 draft pick out of Wyoming, Allen spent a season at Reedley College near Fresno, which is in the same conference as Hartnell and Monterey Peninsula College.
In his final junior college game, Allen threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 102 yards in Reedley’s 43-37 loss at MPC.
Passing up Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Las Vegas to compete in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Allen is using the tournament to soften the disappointment he still harbors from the loss to Kansas City.
“This is not a bad consolation,” Allen said smiling.