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Southland Golf: A Look At The Success And Future Of The Links At Petco

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When it debuted a year ago, The Links at Petco Park nine-hole golf experience did so with a snap San Diego popularity akin to craft beer and fish tacos.

Three days of tee times to play Petco as a par-3 course in 2015 sold out in a matter of hours. Callaway Golf and the San Diego Padres added two more days and extended the hours each day and it sold out again.

A sixth extra day was added this year and tickets for the encore moved nearly as swiftly – save for a block of premium night-time tee times priced at $450 for a twosome and $900 for a foursome that eventually sold – and allowed 2,700 golfers to experience the event as opposed to 1,600 in 2015.

Callaway Golf Marketing Manager Nathan Adelman said the expanded tee time availability and upgraded course all proved to be big hits in the 2016 edition of The Links.

“The enthusiasm for (The Links at Petco) was just as much as a year ago, if not more,” he said. “We had a lot of come back, many of whom said they had an even better time this year, and we also had a lot of people participate who didn’t get to play last year.

“There was more energy in the stadium this year because we spaced the tee times closer so there more people in the park at once.”

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Among the course upgrades included tee boxes being staged at four levels of the stadium as opposed to three a year ago, but the awesome opening tee shot, hit toward center field and the San Diego skyline, remained at home plate.

From the tee boxes, golfers get two shots at an outlined green with a colored pin flag. A circle drawn around the flag serves as a birdie target. A ball hitting outside the circle but on the green is a par. Any shot landing outside is a bogey. The best-ball score is recorded for each hole.

Unlike last year, when the layout used several shared greens, this year, each hole had its own green, including an island green on No. 9. Course architect Geoff Shackelford, who worked on the Olympic course in Rio, consulted in this year’s layout to help evolve the course experience.

“He helped shape greens, bunkers and hazards to be true to where actually golf shots would be coming from,” Adelman said. “One of the reasons this event appeals to people is that despite being in a baseball stadium it’s an authentic golf experience. It’s a legitimate golf course.”

Shackelford also helped Callaway stretch the course a bit, extending the length of the longest shot to 165 yards. The shortest was 68 yards.

Two other changes this year included the incorporation of live scoring and also a non-profit partnership with Pro Kids and The First Tee of San Diego. Pro Kids sold mulligans and generated over $23,000 in donations, Adelman said.

“That’s really rewarding for us to see,” he said.

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After last year’s event, Adelman said the Callaway team spent the year brainstorming upgrades to the experience and entertained conversations from 15 organizations about holding a similar event for them.

Ultimately, Adelman said, Carlsbad-based Callaway chose to focus on its core business and improving the event in “our backyard.”

“We need to focus on selling golf equipment,” he said. “It’s a lot of energy and resources to pull off an event like this. We want to continue to focus on doing it here and doing it the best.”

Adelman noted imitators of The Links experience are coming out of the woodwork. For one, the Atlanta Braves hosted a similar event that didn’t involve Callaway or another equipment partner.

Adelman said The Links is an ideal environment to introduce people to Callaway equipment. Golfers not only hit Callaway clubs on each hole, each hole is manned by a Callaway staffer.

“That means we’re getting a touch point with them on every hole,” he said.

Adelman credited the partnership with the Padres as being critical to the event’s continuing success.

“It really is a collaboration,” he said. “We could not do this without their event team and their staff making sure everything runs smoothly. But they also couldn’t do it without us because there are a lot of golf nuances built into this event.”

As for the future of The Links, Adelman said Callaway and the Padres now have a two-year track record of proven success that he’s confident will continue.

“I have an inclination we’ll be back.”

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The RanchLB: Harvest Restaurant Has Arrived – Take Our Virtual Tour

In October, The Ranch at Laguna Beach golf resort finally opened up its much anticipated Harvest restaurant, one of the final pieces of its nearly two-year renovation project. As with everything at The Ranch, the overall quality and attention to detail are impeccable.

What follows is a photo tour that will take you through the lobby, bar, patio and restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the No. 1 fairway and has huge windows that open toward the course and make the restaurant open air and seems to make the golf and restaurant experiences seamless. And we’re calling this the new best table in golf.

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Take a look around in our virtual tour and make sure to check out Harvest the next time you’re in Laguna Beach. You won’t be disappointed with the restaurant or anything else about this unique golf resort experience that’s rapidly rocketing up the Trip Advisor ratings for Orange County.

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And we close with blog’s standard review of The Ranch: It rocks.

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19th Hole Media: 12 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Golf Course’s Social Media Strategy Before 2017

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Does your golf course have a social media plan for 2017, or could your current plan use a review?
Before you answer, here are some questions to ask yourself:

– Is your course posting regularly (daily/weekly) and consistently to Facebook?

– Is your course utilizing Instagram to promote your course and reach new golfers?

– Does your course have an adequate supply of high-quality images to promote your facility?

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– Is your course working with video?

– Is your club’s social media plan comprehensive, meaning does it account for and promote ALL of your business entities (golf, instruction, weddings, tournaments, golf shop, dining, events, tourism, lodging, etc.)?

– If your course posts regularly to social media, are they prompt (24/48 hours) in replying to responses and queries?

– Does your course have a blog to drive traffic to your web site and create rich content of value to your clientele beyond it just being a calendar of events?

– Do you value social media as a marketing AND a customer service tool?

– Do you have someone dedicated to your social media who enjoys it and makes it a priority and isn’t overburdened with other course duties?

– Do you promote and sell golf rounds through your social media?

– Are you properly leveraging the investment you’ve made in your web site through social media promotion?

– Do you realize how fast social media is changing and how challenging it is to stay educated?

More than ever, social media needs to be priority for golf courses to relevant and successful in communicating with their clientele. It has to be prioritized as more than hobby. If don’t take your social media seriously, neither with your audience – and quality content counts.

Before the new year, I encourage you to let 19th Hole Media give you an honest and experienced assessment of your current social media efforts. It’s likely we can identify many errors for improvement and tailor a custom plan exclusively for your course that will work and take into account your current resources (staff, social media familiarity, marketing budget, etc.).

If your course is behind in migrating its marketing to social media, this is your chance to catch up. If you let another year go by without making it a priority, it will on deny your course and club the impressive results that social media can provide in this era of new media. And if you’re course is taking out print advertising to promote itself, we definitely need to talk because those are marketing resources you should be taking control of and converting into storytelling and social media channels that work and will inform and entertain your audience and gain you fans, followers and loyal customers.

You can contact either Zeb Welborn (zeb@welbornmedia.com) or Corey Ross (corey.ross@yahoo.com) to schedule a consultation. We’d be happy to share the strategies that are working for our growing list of clients and make sure you have a happy new year on social media in 2017. You can find more information about 19th Hole Media www.19thholemedia.com.

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Southland Golf: A Look At The Wildfire Recovery And Renovation At Robinson Ranch

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Four months after it was hit by a devastating wildfire, the signs of destruction are everywhere at Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita. But so are the signs of re-birth.

Acres of trees and turf burned black are increasingly intermingled with the skinny plantings of new trees and the freshly graded and carved earth of a course gaining a new life and identity.

The renovation at Robinson Ranch is more by circumstance than choice, but Robinson Head Golf Professional Mark Kagaoan said the opportunity is one the course and club are seizing in full.

“It’s actually a blessing in disguise,” he said during a visit to the course in August on the day the clubhouse was getting a fresh coat of white paint. “This is our opportunity do a complete re-branding and bring back the wow factor to Robinson Ranch.”

Read the story in full here.

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Tweet, Tweet: Socalgolfblog.com Named One Of 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter

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First the blog was named one of the top 100 golf blogs on the Internet. Now we’ve been named one of the 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter. Is there a Triple Crown for this stuff? Can we get some Facebook or Instagram love?

We’re joking of course because we’re always humbled, honored and usually surprised to found out we’ve won something. I don’t know how many “Congratulations!” emails you wake up to every day, but it’s now happened to me twice in the last two months. I usually have to track it back to find out what I actually won.

This time it’s an honor from www.360golfholidays.com. You can read the list here. I’ll say this: It’s an eclectic list, from Beef Johnson to Claude Harmon to my San Diego colleague Jenn Harris at www.highheelgolfer.com.

Here’s our listing:

Corey Ross – https://twitter.com/socalgolfblog – San Diego golf and travel writer tweeting on a regular basis. Known for marketing golf courses and author of the socialgolfblog.com.

Yep. That’s us in a nutshell. Feel free to follow @socalgolfblog.com and learn a whole about golf courses in San Diego and particularly Maderas, where I work as the Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media. I also partner with Zeb Welborn to post for 19th Hole Media and our growing list of course clients.

And I have a thought or two about social media in general from time to time. It’s a funny place, this Internet. You never know who might discover you, but I’m glad the people at 360 Golf Holidays did. Thanks for the recognition. We’ll hopefully see you all on Twitter soon.

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19th Hole Media: Indian Wells Golf Resort To Offer GolfBoard Starting Nov. 11

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In November, Indian Wells Golf Resort will become the first golf course in the Coachella Valley to offer GolfBoard.

Indian Wells Director of Sales And Marketing Michael Tebbetts said the arrival of the four GolfBoards will closely coincide with the course re-opening on Nov. 1. The boards will be available starting Nov. 11.

GolfBoard is a battery-powered scooter that allows golfers to traverse the course in a manner similar to surfing, skiing or skating. The experience is called “surfing the Earth.”

GolfBoard launched three years at the West Coast PGA Show in Vegas. It has gained gradual adaption and Tebbetts said success at courses in Arizona and San Diego and a positive response to the boards during a pro-am at Indian Wells last February weighed heavily in the decision to offer the boards for rental.

“We offered it as a hole-in-one prize,” Tebbetts said. “We got a lot of questions about how it worked and overall it generated a lot of interest.”

Advancements in the design of the board and ease of operation also factored into the timing, Tebbetts said.

“The board itself has gotten much better in the last six or seven months,” he said. “It’s a much better experience for the user.”

GolfBoard is currently available at about 200 courses, including more than 20 in California.

Golfers at Indian Wells will have two 18-hole courses on which to enjoy the GolfBoard experience, which, among other things, is credited with an increased pace of play and a greater sense of independence than a cart in that golfers can go straight to their ball.

Tebbetts said GolfBoard fits and complements the luxury resort experience that Indian Wells provides.

“Everything we do is five-star,” he said. “We’re here for our guests to come and relax, and we strive to provide the best service experience and the best golf experience, and GolfBoard fits both of those.”

Tebbetts said Indian Wells will announce the rental rate for GolfBoard when the boards arrive. The course is taking advance reservations for the board. Those interested in booking the boards can call 760.346.4653.

There’s a one-time advance registration to use the boards that requires watching a safety/training video. You can view the video and register here: lw.golfboard.com/liability_waiver/new_rider/364/IndianWellsGolfResort

Even if golfers have registered to use GolfBoard at other courses, such as Maderas Golf Club in San Diego, they’ll be required to re-register at Indian Wells, Tebbetts said.

The board is thought of as a lure to millennials but courses who offer it report it appealing to all demographics. Tebbetts is looking forward to GolfBoard enhancing the golf experience at Indian Wells and attracting new golfers to try GolfBoard.

“We don’t think this is a fad at all,” he said. “You’re seeing more courses adopt it and have success, and we think it’s something that will make people look forward to coming out and playing golf.”

Any questions about GolfBoard at Indian Wells can be directed to Tebbetts at mtebbetts@iwgr.com.

You can learn more about the golf and resort experience at Indian Wells at www.indianwellsgolfresort.com. You can learn more about GolfBoard at www.golfboard.com

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19th Hole Media: An FAQ About The Fire And Renovation At Robinson Ranch

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On the afternoon of July 22nd, a brush fire started near Robinson Ranch that a day later would hit the course and burn up its back nine, causing the course and clubhouse to close.

The extensive damage prompted a course renovation, but the club is also undergoing a renovation of its restaurant, clubhouse and golf shop while closed. The new restaurant is due to open in October with the course hopefully opening by the end of the year.

While the circumstances of the renovation are unfortunate, the opportunity it presents is for a new and improved Robinson Ranch that’s able to provide a re-invented and re-branded experience to its golfers and guests.

To keep you in the loop about the renovation, we’ve prepared this FAQ to answer your inquiries about the renovation. We hope this addresses your curiosity about the project, and we appreciate your inquiries and support during this challenging yet exciting time of change for the club.

In this FAQ, Robinson Ranch Head Golf Professional Mark Kagaoan answers your questions about the fire and renovation.

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How did the fire start? How much of the course was impacted by the fire?

It started as a brush fire near our driving range at 2:14 on July 22nd. It was going in the opposite direction (from the course), but the next day wind changed and took it back in our direction and it took over our whole back nine. It’s hard to believe that little bush turned into all those many acres.

What does a desert-style renovation mean?

It’s like the turf reduction some courses undertook last year due to the drought. We’ll have green tee boxes, green fairways and green chipping areas and greens. Then it’ll be desert-scape and decomposed granite waste bunkers. We’ll also introduce lots of desert plants, including cactus. And we’re re-sodding the areas that need to be sodded.

The community needs this. We’re the only public championship golf course in Santa Clarita.

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What’s the status of the renovation?

We lost a lot of tree cover and we’re just starting to replant trees. Between landscaping and construction, there’s a lot to do, but we’re hoping to open by the end of the year.

Will the renovation make the course harder?

We’ve always been a tough track because the fairways are really narrow, but the back nine has actually opened up now. You can hit it and spray now, but you’ll be in the waste area.
It’s going to remain challenging, but we’re also going to make some aspects easier. The slopes going into the habitat area, for example, are going to be leveled off. We’re also leveling the fairways.

But you’re only open the Valley Course, right? The Mountain Course will remain closed?

Yes. We want to focus on giving people one great golf product.

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How will having one course change Robinson Ranch as a tournament venue?

We were one of the biggest tournament facilities before because we had two golf courses. We’re going to do smaller tournaments now but we’re still going to push to be one of the top options. We do tournaments really well and make it easy for tournament coordinators and committees. Our guys know exactly what they’re doing.

What changes are you making to the driving range?

We’re doing solar on property and going to put the panels over the mats driving range so we’ll be the only shaded driving range for 20 miles. We are also re-grading the range and adding actual turf.

The new restaurant will open in October. What will the new concept look like?

We’re going to make the patio a more functional restaurant and partially enclose it with a glass windscreen. We’re replacing the old furniture with all new furniture and replacing all the carpet as well in addition to re-painting the entire clubhouse.

What’s happening to the old furniture?

We want the community to come take it. We’re giving away tables, chairs, etc., and the community is welcome to come get it.

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What’s happening to the golf shop?

We’re re-stocking with all new merchandise. We’re looking forward to people coming to shop with us again soon.

What’s the overall intent of the renovation?

This opportunity is a blessing in disguise. Our owner is putting insurance money and capital into this project to do some re-branding and put the wow factor back into Robinson Ranch.

If you questions about the renovation, you can contact Mark at mkagaoan@rr-golf.com. Follow our Facebook page for continued updates about the progress of the renovation.

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Aviara’s Tribute To Arnold Palmer: The Arnold Palmer Bridge

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As most San Diegan golfers know well, Aviara Golf Club is the only Arnold Palmer design in San Diego. Last summer, the course paid tribute to its architect on its 25th anniversary by dedicating a bridge on the signature par 3 3rd to Mr. Palmer. It’s nice to know there’ll be a lasting tribute to Palmer in San Diego golfers can visit and appreciate – and what a place to do it. In terms of sheer beauty, No. 3 at Aviara is right up there with the iconic par 3s at Torrey. The lush landscaping, dual waterfall and deep tiered green on this par 3 make this hole a sheer joy to play.

When you cross the bridge, you ideally have putter in hand and are walking toward a birdie putt, though the water often has its way. The last time I played this hole, I had hit what looked to be a perfect shot – until it hit the green and spun back in the drink.

But the frustrating of bogey tends to quickly be satiated by the sheer beauty of this hole. Standing on the 4th tee looking back gives you yet another level of appreciation for Mr. Palmer’s work. It’s good to know this gorgeous golf hole will continue to honor a man who gave so much to the game. And his lasting work and memory still will for generations to come. Thank you, Mr. Palmer.

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The view of No. 3 from the 4th tee

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Southland: Golf Artist Lee Wybranski Paints Major Masterpieces

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Golf artist Lee Wybranski has created a unique niche for himself: He paints for the majors. You saw his work at Torrey fo the U.S. Open in 2008 and you’ll see it again when the Open returns in 2021. Also of local interest, he’s working on a project for Goat Hill Park in Oceanside. You can read my Southland Golf interview with Lee here: http://www.southlandgolf.com/articles/grinding-617-powers-leg.html

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19th Hole Media: Arroyo Trabuco Announces New Monday Burger Menu

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Stop by O’Neill’s at Arroyo Trabuco in Mission Viejo after 5 p.m. to take advantage of their new Monday Burger & Beverage special. Enjoy a signature burger and your choice of house wine, well cocktail, or draft beer for only $15.95 while watching Monday Night football on their flat screen TV’s!