With all respect due Bing, the Internet search engine, and Dave Bing, the former NBA star and current mayor of Detroit, there can be only one Bing, and his last name was Crosby. This was a man who swung on a star. He had 383 record-chart singles and 41 No. 1 hits, which is a lot more than Beyonce and Justin Bieber and even Alice Cooper, and there never will be a "White Christmas" without him.
He could act, too: In 1944, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Bing Crosby was like Bo Jackson, without the Nike deal and the bum hip.
He was quite the sportsman, having once been an assistant football coach at his alma mater of Gonzaga (this would have been years before Adam Morrison cried during the NCAA Tournament) and part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, from 1946 until the time he died. He loved to watch the ponies run; he was on the board of directors at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, where the surf meets the turf near San Diego.
And he loved his golf.
In 1937, Bing Crosby started this tournament, the National Pro-Am Golf Championship, in California. Sam Snead won. He earned a check for $500. The National Pro-Am wasn't about the money, though it was about the clams. About baking clams. That's what they called it, the Crosby Clambake.
Just as the attitude at a clambake is mellow and laid back, you didn't fret over missing a short birdie putt at Bing's Clambake; you didn't hurl your 7-iron into the Pacific Ocean off the Monterey Peninsula after slicing one. You laughed about it afterward, over cocktails, at the Del Monte Lodge at Pebble Beach.
After Bing Crosby died in 1977, his Clambake morphed into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Usually when you gain capital letters and ampersands, you lose the mellowness and laid-back attitude. Now it's not about the clams, it's about the money, even if they do occasionally let Bill Murray yuk it up on the front nine during the early rounds.
This is why Carolyn Schneider doesn't go to Pebble Beach during the first week of February anymore. It's just not the same without Bing. Without her Uncle Bing.
Carolyn Schneider's mother, Mary Rose Crosby Pool, was Bing Crosby's sister.
Carolyn lives in Summerlin with her husband, Dirk, who paints pictures of pueblos and other Southwestern landscapes. She has written two books about Uncle Bing, the second of which, "Bing: On the Road to Elko" she signed for me after I was through looking at the photos of Mary Rose and Phil Harris and Danny Kaye and President Gerald Ford and Arnold Palmer and a tanned James Garner and Andy Williams and Lawrence Welk and Vin Scully and Glen Campbell and Alan Shepard. And of a lot of people named Crosby, but not the one who shot J.R.
Everybody looked so young and fit and tanned and healthy in their Ban-Lon shirts and golf things. Especially Garner.
"It was just the atmosphere of the Crosby," Carolyn Schneider said as we pored over those old photos, taking king-sized divots from the past on her dining room table. "It was by invitation only. Golfers would kill to get an invitation to the Crosby, whether they were pros or amateurs or celebrities.
"Uncle Bing didn't want any egomaniacs, guys who were going to throw their clubs. There was just a lot of camaraderie, and that was the atmosphere."
Every time Carolyn Schneider referred to Bing Crosby as "Uncle Bing," I sort of chuckled, because how many people have an Uncle Bing? I mean, how cool is that? Even if Dave Bing were your uncle, he'd be Uncle Dave, not Uncle Bing. And yeah, you could ask about Boeheim hogging the ball when they played at Syracuse, and about the size of Lanier's feet, but I'll bet he couldn't sing "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" like Bing Crosby could, because nobody could. Not even Sinatra.
It was really cool listening to her tell stories about her Uncle Bing and his golf pals; it was almost like having my mom and dad's old LPs come to life right there. I could almost hear Rosemary Clooney singing, scratches and all.
And when I thanked her for hauling out those photo albums, and for sharing the stories, and asked why she would do it for a stranger, she did not ponder or hesitate as if the question were a tricky downhill putt for the Big Check, or a clam that still needed baking.
"The reason I do this ... and this ... and this," she said, nodding to the photos, and the autographed books about her Uncle Bing, and the replica of the denim tuxedo jacket the Levi's people tailored for him when he owned those ranches up in Elko, "is to keep his memory and his legacy alive. To repay him for his kindness to me, if that's possible."
I asked what her famous uncle would have made of Tiger Woods. "I think Uncle Bing would have admired his great golfing skills," she said, which I think was a nice way of saying her Uncle Bing wouldn't have cared very much for Tiger glowering at people in the gallery who try to take his picture.
And then I shared a story with her: How now, in lieu of sending out Christmas cards, I just copy the computer link to the YouTube video of her Uncle Bing and David Bowie singing "The Little Drummer Boy" to the iPhones on my list, because when those two harmonize during the "Peace on Earth" part, it still makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski