JC Golf: “Hack Golf” Finds A Home At Oaks North


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Standing over 35-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the east course at Oaks North, I’d never felt more confident about sinking a long putt in my life.

Aiming at a hole the size of a large pizza will do that.

And sure enough, my putt, hit firmly at the left edge of the oversized hole, gently sloped in for a two on the closing par 3.

And with that, I had the experience the founders of Hack Golf wanted to me to have – increased ease of scoring.

The 15-inch cups have been in place for more than a month now and Oaks North Head Professional Lloyd Porter says the game is finding its audiences. He reports that young juniors in particular like the oversized holes as do couples.

“He’ll play the regulation holes and she’ll play the 15-inch cups,” he says. “The women really like it because it takes away some of the intimidation factor. When they hear about it, they say, ‘I’d try that.’”

And they are. Porter says the game is finding a following, though it may be a little too soon to jump to catching on. People are still discovering it during its curiosity phase, he says.

But the new holes are more than a curiosity at the course, Porter says. They’re a fixture.

“The holes are here to stay. This is for the next generation of golfers.”

The 15-inch holes, designated by a flag with a “15” on it, also come with their own tees, shorter than the whites. Those tees boxes are comprised of two large orange balls stamped with a “15.” There’s also a 15-inch cup on the practicing putting green.

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The east course is the only nine of the 27 holes at Oaks North to have the 15-inch cups. Before last week, it was the only nine I hadn’t played.

Having played it, I think it’s an ideal nine of host the 15-inch holes. With three holes measuring 200 yards or more, there’s more opportunity than most executive courses to hit woods or rescues off the tee.

That means golfers getting exposed to the game on the 15-inch holes are getting something close to the full experience. In other words, it’s not just irons and wedges.

The only difference is at the green, where there’s a regulation hole on one side of the green and a 15-inch cup on the other. Not only is putting made easier by the larger holes, the short-game scoring possibilities greatly increase. If you’ve got a 20-foot chip, you’re trying to hole it.

That’s where the game really changes and can be good practice if you’re open to the experience.

If you’re looking to take your round on the 15-inch cups as more than practice and looking to go low, Oaks North Assistant Golf Professional Steve Lyons and I have come up with three scoring tips for you.

1. Putt aggressively –
There’s no reason to hold back and your best bet is often to go straight at the hole. With a 15-inch cup, the ball isn’t jumping out. As painful as leaving putts short normally is, it’s doubly so here. See it and hit it firmly.

2. Go for the middle of the green –
This timeless golf scoring strategy especially holds true on the 15-inch holes, none of which are in the middle. The greens are set up with a regulation cup on one side and a 15-inch inch on the other. Put yourself in the middle on every hole to have consistence chances to score. All you’re looking to do is set up a putt and then take advantage of the advantage the game is giving you.

3. Chip with irons, not just wedges – We talked previously about the scoring mentality of short-game shots on 15-inch cups. Unlike a normal round, you’re not necessarily looking to give yourself the best leave. You want to score – and a wedge isn’t necessarily your best bet for doing that.

Trying chipping with your 7-, 8- and 9-irons for your best scoring chances. Why? Those clubs don’t impart as much backspin and roll out more.

On the practice chipping green, hit practice shots with these clubs to learn how far they roll out and then allow for that on your shot. And these are shots that can come in handy in your normal round. Truthfully, most people don’t utilize these shots enough and teaching pros preach that you have better control of a ball on the ground than in the air. Here’s your chance to work on it.

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Oaks North is the course of the month for JC Golf this month and the $15 introductory offer for nine holes on the 15-inch cups still applies. Call 858.487.3021, or go to jcgolf.com, to book your round today.

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Maderas Golf: Ways to Practice Putting Using the Small Hole

small hole

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There’s an innocuous little hole cut into the middle of each of Maderas’ practice putting greens that’s worth your time and attention if you’re looking to hone your putting stroke.

Just barely wider than the diameter of a golf ball, the “small hole” can help you zero in your putting stroke and increase your confidence – if you know how to use it.

I’ve used it by lining up short putts – 2 or 3 feet – to study two things: path and pace. If I’m holing them on the small hole, I’m usually feel pretty good about those two things – and on my last visit to Maderas, I wasn’t. I was pushing my putts right. I quickly realized my back stroke had a gotten a little long and my follow through a bit rushed, thus leaving the putter face slightly open at impact.

After I shortened my stroke and slowed my pace, the putts started dropping again. Coincidentally, I holed a 30-footer to save par on the first hole and had a fairly solid day all around on the greens after.

Maderas Director of Golf Instruction Chris Mayson, however, suggests an entirely different approach to using the small hole.

“Essentially, the small hole is designed to make putting more difficult so when you go back to the regulation cups, they look much bigger and you have more confidence and freedom in your stroke,” he says. “That freedom allows your putter to release properly.”

Rather than short distance, Mayson has his students practice from 8 to 15 feet, largely to achieve better distance control.

“Using the small hole really narrows the focus and obviously makes the putt seem different,” he says. “Before we go to the small hole, my players have usually warmed up on the big hole and worked on fundamentals. Now I want them to work on the process on hitting a good putt.”

When asked for practice objectives, Mayson said making putts isn’t necessarily one of them.

“It’s obviously great if it goes in, but I more want to see proper speed and a pace that would allow the ball to just drop in. You practice this on the small hole without any real goals for making them.”

Putts will drop later on the larger holes if this drill is done diligently and practiced properly, Mayson says. He reiterates that, for him, the small hole is more about psychology than methodology.

“It’s definitely more for the psychological benefit,” he says. “For that, I think it’s terrific, and I love that Maderas puts them in because I don’t see many courses that do.

“Psychologically, they are great for training.”

Chris Mayson is coach to PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players, and is the Head Coach of the USA Junior National Team. You can contact Chris at cmayson@maderasgolfacademy.com.

Happy Birthday To the Blog!


Photo courtesy of www.thehackersparadise.com

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This should’ve dawned on me yesterday, but it just hit me now: The blog turned one today.

Arnold Palmer’s birthday, which was yesterday, was the subject of my first post – the day after his birthday. I wrote about my appreciation for him and in particular cited his ESPN commercial and his Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial – “Swing your swing” – as two of my favorite things ever on TV.

Wow. That was about 150 posts ago.

Well, the blog, appropriately, is celebrating on the golf course tomorrow.

Now pass the cake …

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Maderas Golf: Lunch at the PGA Tour Grill – W/Menus


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Editor’s note: Socalgolfblog.com is now providing blog content for Maderas Golf Club. You can find this post on the blog at their site, www.maderasgolf.com.

Since it opened somewhat quietly last May in the remodeled Terminal Two of the San Diego International Airport, the PGA Tour Grill, the PGA Tour’s new airport restaurant concept, has gone from hidden gem to overnight success.

The grill has quickly become a hit with traveling golfers, according to officials at concept developer HMS Host and at the PGA Tour.

“The early returns have been very encouraging,” says Tim Hawes, Senior Vice President of Global Product Licensing for the PGA Tour. “We feel like we’ve gotten a hole-in-one.”

Much like following up on a tip for a great golf course to play, Maderas Golf Club accepted an invitation to lunch at the grill in September to experience the concept that the Tour has aggressive growth plans for over the next five years.

You can now add us to the ranks of the impressed.

Pictures of the grill, while beautiful, don’t fully relate the impressiveness of the space, which is much more upscale restaurant than traditional airport lounge.

The stacked stone exterior, the high ceilings, the sheer size of the space and the massive murals of Torrey Pines all make for a great first impression – and that’s before you even start watching golf on the grill’s myriad of TVs.

Traveling golfers to and from Maderas will want to allow for an extra hour or so before flying to soak in the airport golf nirvana the PGA has created to promote the game and fill what it saw as a need in airport dining: healthy menu items.

Promoted by the motto of “Eat Smart. Play Harder,” the PGA Tour Grill has loaded its lunch and breakfast menus with nutritious and travel-friendly items. (You’ll find the breakfast and lunch menus for the grill at the bottom of this post.)

After considering the grill’s fine selection of salads and flatbreads, we settled on sampling the California beef burger (one of the most popular menu items, we’re told) and the hickory plank salmon.

Both we’re quite good, and we deemed them ideal pre-flight meals. The burger is made from locally raised beef and its toppings include Tillamook Cheddar, crispy onions, garlic aioli and a bacon option, which of course Maderas General Manager Bill O’Brien took.

Of his burger, O’Brien said, “I found the portion to be just right; not too heavy before a flight. And the flavor was just delicious.”

My salmon entrée, which did indeed arrive on a little wood plank, was moist and flavorful. And the grill asparagus and roasted potatoes proved a perfect pairing.

We’re told that on the lunch menu the California beef burger and the wood-grilled chicken and goat cheese sandwich are the most popular items. For breakfast, it’s the classic eggs and the steak and eggs.

The PGA Tour Grill debuted in San Diego, but it has quickly been joined by Honolulu, Las Vegas and Boston. The Tour is targeting Tour stops and golf vacation hot spots for its initial 25-restaurant rollout. San Diego quite obviously qualifies on both counts.

Traveling golfers can increasingly expect to see these popping up as they travel for business or pleasure, especially in California. The Tour has expressed a desire to see a PGA Tour Grill in every hub in Southern California.

We know that the 12,000 or so traveling guests Maderas hosts each year will enjoy the experience as will those who discovering these abroad, possibly traveling to some of the 200 courses in the Troon Golf network, such as Kapalua in Maui and The Grove in London. Both locales have direct flights from San Diego.

Maderas Golf Club thanks Joe Niknam and Rick Juaert of HMS Host for hosting us and treating us like Tour stars.

Editor’s note 2: My previous posts about PGA Tour Grill have been searched regularly and a few of you have additionally searched for the menus. We now provide them here.





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JC Golf: LA Kings Bring Stanley Cup to Encinitas Ranch


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Encinitas Ranch hosted a private event on Friday for the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings that gathered about 100 fans and friends of the team and a few players to celebrate the title in the company of the Stanley Cup.

The cup arrived about an hour before event to much curiosity and was treated like a celebrity. Guests and golf staff all clamored for a photo with one of sport’s most cherished, and well-traveled, trophies. Prior to coming to Encinitas Ranch the cup appeared at Rady Children’s Hospital was taken to Coronado to spend the afternoon with the Navy SEALS. Two days prior, the cup made the rounds in Catalina.

The following is a photo post from the cup’s evening at Encinitas Ranch.

To book your private event at Encinitas Ranch, please contact Catering/Food and Beverage Manager Kylie Herman at 760.944.1936, ext. 112, or kherman@jcresorts.com.


Tyler Wells and Tracy Taylor of Encinitas Ranch greet the cup, which is being carried by Jeff Solomon, LA Kings Senior Vice President for Hockey Operations and Legal Affairs.


The engraving to celebrate the 2012 title (2014 hasn’t been added yet).

Inside of Cup

There’s actually an inscription inside the bowl on top of the cup. It’s the engraving honoring the 1907 Montreal Wanderers. That year, according to Wikipedia, the cup ran out of room to record the winning roster on the outer bands.


Encinitas Ranch 1st Assistant/Golf Professional Brandon Delgado has his picture taken with the cup.

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Outside Services Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has some fun with the cup. Many creative poses were employed in cup photos.


Catering/Food and Beverage Manager Kylie Herman took this selfie with the cup.

JC Golf: It’s Time To Join the JC Golf Junior Tour


Image courtesy of www.juniorgolf.com

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Sign up has begun for JC Golf’s 10-week Junior Golf Tour, which starts Sept. 21 and is open to boys and girls ages 10 to 17.

Besides tournament experience, the tour presents weekly prize opportunities in the form of free golf rounds, with the grand prize for flight winners being free golf for an entire year.

The boys compete in age groups of 10-13 and 14-17, while the girls division is open.

While some of the competitors are experienced tournament players, program director Steve Lyons, Assistant Golf Professional/Tournament Coordinator at Oaks North, said some of the first players to sign up this year were tournament novices.

“For a lot of kids, this is their introduction into tournament golf, which is great because that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.

The experience is made fair for all, Lyons said, by the use of handicaps.

“We want to make it as level possible, so each player will get a handicap differential after the first event and then we’ll build their handicap from there,” he said.

“We don’t wants to kids to stay away or be intimidated because they might be playing against players who are at a higher level. It’s tournament golf, yes, but we still want it to be fun.”

The weekly flight winners win a free round of golf at that week’s course. The grand prize winners are determined based on a points system that rewards both participation and performance, similar to the PGA Tour’s FedEx system, Lyons said.

Other participation incentives include opportunities to partake in things such as driver and putter fittings provided by TaylorMade Golf.

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All the JC courses, save for Carmel Mountain Ranch, are used in the Sunday tournament rotation, so the players get to experience a mix of regulation and executive courses.

Each week also presents a chance to gain tournament experience, which Lyons said is essential to securing a competitive future in the game.

“Tournament golf is whole new realm,” he said. “If you get exposed early, it does nothing but build confidence as you get older. And that can lead to being on a high school team and eventually a college team. This gives you that foundation.”

And Lyons also stressed that the tournaments provide a broad range of experience as players join the tour from all over San Diego County. And those are the players the game is depending on, he said.

“Golf needs kids not only playing, but playing competitively. Competition is what the game is all about.”

There’s a one-time registration fee of $30 to join the tour. Beyond that, it’s $35 for 18 holes.

For more information, you can contact Lyons directly at 858.487.3021, or slyons@jcresorts.com.

Below is this year’s tournament schedule.

Sept. 21 – Oaks North
Sept. 28 – Reidy Creek
Oct. 5 – Rancho Bernardo Inn
Oct. 12 – Encinitas Ranch
Oct. 19 – Reidy Creek
Oct. 26 – Oaks North
Nov. 2 – Encinitas Ranch
Nov. 9 – Temecula Creek Inn
Nov. 16 – Twin Oaks
Nov. 23 – Oaks North

Note: Consult www.jcgolf.com/junior-tour for more information, such as registration and weekly tee times.

August 2014 Southland Golf


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A guide to my stories in the digital mag at top right. Sorry for the redirect, but direct links haven’t been working.

A Flying Start: A look at the PGA Tour Grill in the SD Airport, page 12

Names in the Game: Guan Tianlang. Catch up with the Chinese phenom from Masters lore, page 14

A New SKLZ Set: A look at how an elite athlete training company trains golfers, page 30

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