del mar sunset

Friday Photo Post: Paddleboarder At Sunset

del mar sunset

Posting this not just for the beauty of the sunset but also the paddleboarder in the foreground. I’ve had them pass through before, but never had one stay in the frame so long. This will always be known as the Paddleboarder Sunset to me. He truly stars in the sunset video at the end. He took a great sunset and made it something even more unique.

Thank you, Mr. Anonymous Paddleboarder.

paddle 1

Paddle 2



X-Golf X-Plained: A Q & A With X-Golf Founder Chris Mayson


With the advent of swing-analysis technology and video, the teaching of golf has changed greatly in the last decade, but practice, at least for amateurs, largely has not. For many, it still consists largely of solitary swings on the range with indefinite results and a random regimen.

This is the learning experience Chris Mayson is looking to change with X- Golf. X-Golf incorporates teaching and practice in a group setting in hour-long sessions with a single-skill focus and a competition at the end to increase intensity and engagement.

Mayson conducted a successful pilot of the program two years ago at Maderas Golf Club, but he held off on the launch until an optimal web site – – and compatible app. could be developed since X-Golf is a technology-driven and tracked experience.

“We wanted to make it as good an experience as possible when we launched and the app. really (improved the program),” Mayson says.

X-Golf will debut at Maderas on Oct. 19th. Mayson will conduct four classes daily during the week and a two a day on the weekend. Class attendance is unlimited and costs $150 a month.

Mayson is the Director of Instruction at the Maderas Golf Academy and coaches players on the PGA and LPGA tours. X-Golf is a concept gleaned from his nine years of instruction and wanting to see more players experience meaningful and successful practice.

He shares more about the X-Golf experience in the following Q & A.


What was it in your instructing experience that led to this concept?

I wanted to get people more engaged and involved in their practice. Too often a lot of people get bored with their practice and don’t know what to work on or how to get better.

(As an instructor), even when I’d give people really detailed practice advice after a lesson, I’d still rely on them going away and doing what I asked them to do, sometimes for weeks or months at time. Some would do (what I instructed), but many wouldn’t.

I wanted to create something with simple skills to learn that culminated in a competition at the end to keep people engaged.

And what’s the benefit of buying sessions vs. individual lessons?

This way, the player can see the instructor as much as they want – they can come every day – and really work on improving and making sure they’re on the right track every day.

How did you structure the pilot, and what made it successful?

We did mornings and evenings in groups of eight to 10, with different ages and levels of ability. Everyone loved it.

They got a very structured, detailed practice for an hour but there was also a social element to it. It makes it more fun when you can meet people and develop friendships. And that’s the culture we want to develop – and that culture helps keep people engaged and focused.
We did for two weeks, covering putting, short game and the swing, and ended each with a competition.

The feedback was very encouraging. I sent out a survey and everyone loved it so much that I knew I was on to something.


What do you like about the app., and what role does it play?

It’s really clean and simple. You book your classes on there, view your instruction videos and it shows your personal records. All your results get graphed so it tracks your progress and there’s a leaderboard to show how you did against your peers.

And some of the instruction videos are quite creative. Here’s one with the “Happy Gilmore” swing.

X-Golf will have you doing the Happy Gilmore to improve your power, sequencing and swing speed. For more out of the box, fun practice like this, join X-Golf.

We’ll also do a little training Big Break style. I will have a flop shot wall, six-foot circles, goal posts, SKLZ training aids, etc.

What level of golfer are you targeting?

It’s good for anybody from beginners to Tour players, but I think it’s really going to be perfect for people who play golf and love golf but don’t have time to play a lot or practice much – and maybe they don’t have a lot of money for instruction.

This provides them focused practice in a short amount of time – and it’s fun and affordable.

What benefits as an instructor have you seen from focused practice?

I think in a typical practice someone grabs a driver or 7-iron and starts hitting balls without any real rationale, so it lacks engagement.

With X-Golf, there’s a single skill every day – whether it’s bunker shots, flop shots or short putts – and you get the entire hour to work on that discipline. So by the end of the hour, you’ve had a focused, engaged practice and the competition simulates the competitive aspect of the golf course and gives you that intensity you need.

What’s the ideal class size?

Between eight and 16.

How long to does it to take to complete the full course in X Golf?

Every day is an hour, but it’s randomized practice. You might repeat a practice, but that could be three months out. There’s not really an end to the program because there’s always something to learn or work on.


How are fundamentals addressed in the program, like grip, aim and set up? What if I have a fundamental flaw hampering my progress?

We’re going to discover those things organically. If someone can’t hit a draw, then the coach will look at why they can’t and correct what’s limiting them. That’s where the individualization comes in.

I think you actually see that a lot in professional golf these days. Jordan Spieth doesn’t have a textbook golf swing, but it’s very effective. Phil Mickelson is another one. There are a lot of different golf swings out there, but they all know how to play the game and compete.

That’s what matters.

Classes will be mixed?

In the beginning, yes, but I can see cultures developing that give the classes identity. For instance, I can see hosting a young executives group in the morning. And maybe juniors in the afternoon. We’re going to do four sessions a day during the week and two a day on the weekend, so I think those things will just develop.

What’s the overall intent of X Golf?

Fun. Social. Focused. Quick. Competitive. That’s X Golf.

You can register for classes and download the app at Media inquiries can be sent to Questions for Chris Mayson can be sent to

par 3

Photo post: Touring The Fazio Course At Pronghorn Golf Club

par 3

You’ll be reading more about Pronghorn later this week on the site but thought I’d start with this. This is a photo tour of the Fazio Course, the country club (private) side of Pronghorn. I didn’t get to play it, but touring it was a treat unto itself. Everything at Pronghorn is done on a grand scale, and the Fazio Course is certainly no exception. The photo above is of the signature par 3, the 13th, built above a giant lava tube. You’ll find better photos of it than mine online, but you get the idea. The use of the natural landscape at Pronghorn is masterful, and if you truly appreciate course design, this is the candy store of course design quirks and twists – water flowing over cart paths, an awesome stone footbridge, split greens (yes, played to two different greens) on the par 3 17th, etc.

Here’s some of what you find on the Fazio side of the golf played through a Juniper forest.

coure overview

fazio 4

Fazio 1

stream cart path

fazio 8

fazio 3


fazio ghost tree

par 3 wider view


Southland: Warner Springs Ranch Overview


The digital draft on the Southland Golf site is available here:

If you’ve ever seen a golf course that’s been let go, you know it’s not a pretty sight.

Well-maintained grass and greens revert to a pasture/prairie state quickly as the course becomes an unkempt cousin of its former self.

Re-taming what the wild has taken back takes time. How much time?

“In the golf business, for about every year you let a course go, it takes you three years to get it back,” said Byron Casper, Corporate Golf Director and Golf Professional recently re-opened Warner Springs Ranch Golf Club. “This course was let go for the better part of almost three years. I think we’re ahead of the game by getting it in this condition this early.”

Using Casper’s calculation, that’d be nine years of regression for Warner Springs, which closed in 2012 amid bankruptcy proceedings for the course and adjoining resort and hot springs. Pacific Hospitality Group, led by Chairman, William H. McWethy, Jr. and President Fred Grand, claimed the property and hired Casper to oversee the course renovation.

The course is now open three days a week while under renovation and is being targeted for a grand opening around November.


While the course remains rough around the edges, Casper said the progress made in 18 months, especially amid the state’s prevailing drought, is rather remarkable.

“This course was let go for the better part of almost three years. I think we’re ahead of the game by getting it in this condition this early,” Casper said.

During a September visit, several cart paths remained to be laid and the course had more than its share of bare spots, but the sizeable greens were rounding into shape and most of the par 3s played as fairly finished golf holes.
Casper said the detail work that would catch up the rest of the course was just ahead.

“If it’s 80 percent ready (right now), that remaining 20 percent is the most important part,” he said. “That 20 percent is the aesthetic beauty that people want. That’s what everybody sees. It’s the part that makes a course look like a proper golf course. And we’re at that level of detail right now.”

“When I open this course for the grand opening, I don’t expect a weed to be out of place or a pond to be unfilled, etc. All of that will be taken care of.”

warner 3

That would complete a most remarkable transformation of a course that Casper said was in a dilapidated state when he first toured it, presenting him a challenge unprecedented in his career.

“I’ve opened golf courses from scratch, but I’ve never taken one over. This was a huge challenge, and that appealed to me,” he said. “But I liked the ownership group and wanted to take this on.”

Amidst the neglect, the thing that gave Casper hope were the course’s many stands of old-growth trees, which were still healthy and had given the course its character since it opened in 1984.

“The infrastructure was absolutely perfect. I thought we could have a pristine, desert-type course that looked like we just naturally dropped it in. That’s what this looks like.”


Casper and the ownership team have taken a classic parkland-style layout and added bunkers and, on the par-4 8th, even a pond on the right side that stretches from the fairway and to near the green. Casper says that’s now one of his favorite holes.

“I love No. 8 since we added the lake,” he said. “It’s a great risk-reward hole. If you rip it, you’re looking at having a wedge in your hand into a green that’s front to back. But if you fade your drive, you’re in the lake. In a tournament scenario, you’re probably taking a 3-wood, hybrid or long iron there. It becomes a placement hole.”

While it puts some teeth into the hole, Casper said the intent remains within the guidelines of those handed down to him by his famous father and mentor, Tour Hall of Famer Billy Casper.

“He always said that you don’t make a course for Tour players. You make it for the average golfer. That’s a 17-handicap.”

The course is open three days a week during its renovation partly so Casper can capture the play and opinions of those players whom he sees as vital to returning the course to its place as a recreational and social hub for the community.

“I wanted something people could respond to, and I’m getting some great comments and feedback,” he said. “But when you’re letting people play a course at this stage, you’ve got to be in constant communication about the things you’re still working on.”

Casper’s father passed shortly after he took on the project, but he gave his blessing to his son’s involvement and commended him for continuing the family legacy of maintaining and preserving the game.

Like most teenagers, Byron Casper and his father didn’t always see eye to eye; however, as the two grew older, they found a mutual appreciation for each other and worked closely for several years before his father passed. Casper said striking out on his own and working overseas, including a stint as the head pro at St. Andrews, earned his father’s respect.

“It changed the dynamic,” Casper said. “The last seven years, he became so much more than a father to me – a coach, a friend, religious advisor, etc. – as well as my dad.”

In that regard, Casper said Warner Springs has unintentionally turned into a legacy project, which only bolsters his dedication to the outcome.

The course – and actually any golf course – is a constant reminder of his father’s memory and influence, one that is unavoidable for Casper.

In some ways, Casper said that’s forced him to face and quickly reconcile his feelings for his father.

“My dad thought I was good enough for the Tour and good enough to teach. He sent all his friends to me,” said Casper, who intends to make Warner Springs a destination for coaching and teaching.

“At the end, you either feel like you had enough time or you didn’t. I felt I had enough. I would’ve loved more, but I felt like we had enough.”

“I don’t have any regrets. When my father died, I knew he was proud of me and he knew how much I loved him. And he knew I’d do the job he’d wanted it terms of the family legacy.”

Warner Springs Ranch Golf Club By The Numbers

3 – Number of years the course was closed

8 – The hole undergoing the biggest change. A lake has been added.

2012 – Year the course closed

2014 – Year Pacific Hospitality Group claimed the course and resort out of bankruptcy

18 – Months of renovation put into the course since then

par 3


Video/Photo Post: Benham Falls in Bend, Ore.


On an overcast morning during my stay at Sunriver Resort, just outside of Bend, Ore., I decided to look for a hike instead of a golf course.

I was directed to Benham Falls, the trail for which started just on the edge of the sprawling and heavily forested Sunriver property. It turned out be one of the best travel audibles, and hikes, ever.

The hike begins with a tranquil stroll through the forest over a paved trail until at about the 2-mile mark you cross a wooden bridge over the Deschutes River. This is an optimal place to admire the scenery of central Oregon and even glean a little history of the river. There are educational signs posted along the banks about the discovery of the area, logging, etc.

Once you cross the bridge, it’s about 500 yards to that movie moment where you can hear the falls but not quite see them. In another 100 feet or so, you can get close enough to the river to see it turning turbid. Beyond that, you’re free to follow the beauty and power of natural unleashed for miles through towering canyon falls lined with pine trees and giant logs strewn across the river.


Not anticipating there’d be so much to follow and actually see (and I did have a later tee time to keep), I only tracked the falls through the first of its few dramatic and scenic turns in the river, but the trails give you some awesome and varied perspectives to do so. Those natural landings and outcroppings allowed for the videos that follow.

This was the first time I’d hiked a falls, and it made it immediately memorable and among the best I’d taken.

The short list of memorable hikes:

Sweetheart Rock in Lanai
Torrey Pines
Benham Falls
Smith Rock (same trip – more on this in a later post)

So if you get to central Oregon, definitely hike the falls, and those to follow. It surely will be as memorable for you as it was for me.



A Q &A With Dr. Bobby Awadalla, Inventor Of UVO


It’s sun protection in a bottle, but it isn’t sunscreen – it’s a supplement that you drink.

In short, that’s UVO, the new approach to skin protection developed by Laguna Beach dermatologist Bobby Awadalla. The nutrients and other elements in the 30 ingredients that comprise UVO naturally bolster the immune system to provide 3-5 to hours of supplemental sun protection.

After five years of developing the formula, Dr. Awadalla finally released the product this year. It has found regional success that he’s hoping will be national in the near future.

Dr. Awadalla recently look a few minutes to talk about UVO’s development and share some of its success. I will disclose up front that a golf playing partner and I took UVO before a recent round on an 80-85 degree day, didn’t use sunblock, and a suffered no ill effects.

The formula is promoted as Orange Peach, but it tasted more like a tangerine to me. It’s like Gatorade to drink and can be served warm or chilled. As for a taste, I’ll just say that I like it better than my protein shake.
Here’s my interview with Dr. Awadalla.

How did the idea for the product occur to you, and how did you end up looking for the answer on the supplement side?

It began with my frustration over seeing severely sun-damaged people who had skin cancer due to their lack of application of sunscreen. It just boggled by mind that this was still happening.

I did some research of the use of topical medicine to treat skin conditions, include psoriasis. I found that people didn’t use it very consistently, even if they had skin disease.

I thought, maybe we need to rethink this.

What we do every day is drink and eat, regardless of what’s happening in our lives, and there’s a lot of evidence that shows vitamins, anti-inflammatories and phytonutrients protect us from the sun.

After five years of formulation, I came up with good formula to provide skin protection, and that’s now UVO.

What’s the biggest challenge to getting people to use or accept UVO?

The difficult part is educating people who think you can only apply something to your skin to protect you from the sun. This is a new concept and that’s why education is part of the promotion.

How and when did you know UVO worked?

I was comfortable with the science right away because I knew all the time and effort that went into creating it, but it wasn’t until we tested 15 people that we had the studies to prove it.

We tested about 15 people and the studies showed that within 30 minutes you had a 40 percent increase in the amount of UV radiation required to burn. Then we discovered something by accident: UVO worked retroactively to stop a burn from happening and worked to heal the burn, so it works proactively and retroactively.

Burns are mostly an inflammation. The anti-inflammatories in UVO help stop the inflammatory process and soothe the symptoms of sunburn.

Wow. Sunscreen can’t do that.

No. It also has other functions that make it a very versatile product. It stops DNA damage, collagen damage and protects and repairs cell membranes. It also stops free radicles.

You can compare sunscreen and UVO this way: Sunscreen does one thing well; UVO does many things well.

What SPF is UVO the equivalent of? Is the protection the same for everyone or does it vary?

We all have different skin types and we all absorb and utilize supplements differently, so there will be variation. That’s why we say 3-5 hours of protection on the bottle.

UVO will probably never get to the level of a 50 SPF, but even an SPF 5 provides 80 percent UV blockage so having baseline protection makes a difference. Overall most people who drink UVO should have a good experience and experience different levels of protection from it. We encourage people to be conservative in the trial phase while finding out exactly how it works for them.

What groups or demographics have most readily adapted UVO?

We have found that health conscious individuals who live an active outdoor lifestyle love our product. We already have a good following in the skim boarding and beach volleyball communities. We’re just breaking in with the surfers. Beach/water and outdoors sports are huge for us, and we’re already got a following.

We’d really like to see swimmers, paddle boarders – especially stand-up paddle boarders – using it.

Besides your web site – – where can people expect to find the product at retail?

We want to be distributed within the natural food channels, so Whole Foods, Mother’s Market, Sprouts, Gelson’s Market, places like that.

We want to be in pharmacies, so the sun-protection section of CVS, Walgreens, we’d like to be there as well as surf shops, cycle shops and at golf and tennis clubs. We’re already at some of those places, and are looking to expand further in the near term.

How do you see UVO as a fit with golf?

Golf is very right for this product. The normal round takes between 3-5 hours, and golfers don’t like to get sunscreen on their hands / gloves so they can drink UVO to provide supplemental protection for the entirety of their game. Golf is an ideal sport for it.

What are your hopes for growth and use of the product over the next year?

A year from now, I’d like to see the product be national, beyond just being on our web site and around Laguna Beach. We’re spending the next few months really trying to establish ourselves regionally in SoCal. But we definitely want to be national by next summer.

You can find more info. about UVO and the recommended use if it in an FAQ at the UVO web site:


green view

Highlight Hole: No. 13 At Pronghorn Golf Club (Nicklaus Course)

green view

After three days of being treated to some of the best and most beautiful golf central Oregon has to offer, I discovered a golf hole that trumps them all.

The par 4 13th on the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn Golf Club is a sight to behold, a joy to play and shrine to Oregon golf at its dramatic best. And perhaps best of all, you get a 360-degree appreciation of this magnificent golf hole (more on that in a bit).

new 13

No. 13 is a short dogleg right par 4 played to green guarded by a pond on the right and a massive sand trap in the back. Truth be told, the trap is mostly scenery (you shouldn’t be in there) but it adds a visual accent to the hole akin to the how the beach complements the ocean. In fact, that’s what it looks like: Pronghorn Beach.


The tee shot with tail wind is played over the pond to a generous fairway with a fly-over pot bunker. The approach is the type of shot golfer’s live for.


With likely a wedge in hand, you’re looking at a shot that’s a feast for the golf senses. The backdrop is a massive rockwall with two waterfalls to the right filling a pond that should be taken mostly out of play with a decent drive. A sizeable green gives you ample room for a safe landing in regulation and a shot at a cherished birdie or par. (One caveat about my playing experience: We’ve had absolutely perfect weather; local rumor is that the wind can really blow here.)

A bit like No. 3 at Monarch Beach, the famed par-4 ocean hole, this is hardly the toughest hole on the course – and believe me, Tom Fazio gives you plenty of those – but it’s one you’ll never forget. But unlike No. 3 at Monarch, you get a preview and a post-view of No. 13 at Pronghorn.

You glimpse it for the first time passing by on the front nine – we could hear the excited golf banter on the tee (“Can I just build a house here?) – and then unexpectedly get to experience 13 again on the 18th tee, where you get a bird’s-eye view of the hole.

The view from 18 allows you to appreciate the creek that feeds the waterfalls and tempts you to pull a wedge and try the ultimate flop shot back to the 13th green. But alas, the tee shot on 18 awaits and a close to an extraordinary golf experience that is sure to give you an indelible impression of golf in central Oregon.

Highlight Hole: No. 17 At Tetherow

No. 17 tee

The blog is a Pacific Northwest swing. You’ll see this content being presented over the next few weeks, if not longer.

Here’s a sample. This is the par 3 17th at Tetherow, a links course in Bend, Oregon. After being treated to repeated stunning uses of the desert topography, towering trees and snow-capped mountain vistas, you can come to the par 3 17th, which is the most gorgeous use of it all.


Carved out of an old quarry, this hole is simply striking from the tee and one you savor as you tee it up from about 165 yards.

Looking back from the green, you appreciate the array of desert autumnal hues.

No. 17 green

What a start to my introduction to golf in central Oregon. You’ll be reading much more about the area and courses in future posts.

MAD Home Page Screeen Shot

Maderas: Welcome To The New

MAD Home Page Screeen Shot

Those who frequent our web site,, have noticed significant changes in the last two months as we’ve been upgrading our site.

The good news is that we’re nearing the end of our technical tweaks and feel the site is functioning in the manner in which we intended when we undertook this necessary process.

Besides trying to stay current and relevant in a time of constant technological evolution, the main thrust of the new site is to try serve all of you best by accommodating all the ways in which people access our site now – desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. is now access-friendly to all platforms, meaning you can book everything from a tee time to a dinner reservation on any device you choose. There’s no telling where technology will take us in a year or two from now, but we believe that our new site will allow us to, as we say in golf, play it where it lies.

This post will highlight the primary functions of the site and should act as your guide to using them. If at any time you should encounter technical troubles, please don’t hesitate to contact me ( as there will always be ongoing maintenance of the site that may require attention. We appreciate your assistance, and patience, with these efforts.

The chief function of the site is to assist you in booking tee times. You can book your rounds with a few simple clicks through a portal, or pull-down menu on mobile, marked Book Tee Times on the home page. After designating whether you a San Diego resident (six months annually of residency required) or a non-resident, you’re able to choose from available tee times and special offers, such as having specially priced Pro V1 golf balls included with your round.

Besides ease of service and ability to peruse your options, there’s a financial incentive for booking through the web site as well, says Maderas Director of Golf Hale Kelly.

“We legitimately have the best rates guaranteed at our web site. You may see the same rate posted on (a host of book sites), but there’s always a booking fee involved. That’s where we can save you money.”

MAD Booking Page Screen Shot

You’re still welcome to call the pro shop at 858.451.8100 but know that the web site is designed to quickly and affordably accommodate you in booking your reservation and in that regard is your best and most efficient option.

In this day and age of the technologically savvy and prudent consumer, we’ve also increased our resources in helping you make your decision to choose our course by showing why we’re regarded as one of the top 100 golf courses in America by Golf Digest.

We’ve updated our digital photography and video content to help you preview the Maderas golf experience to the best extent we can to be on par with the real thing. The blog post you’re reading is also part of an extensive collection of content meant to inform about golf at Maderas and, occasionally, life in San Diego and Southern California at large. You can find a trove of lesson videos from our Director of Instruction Chris Mayson as well as useful and timely articles to keep you current on goings on at Maderas, and around golf, to enhance your experience, be it on the course or in the clubhouse. We regard the blog as an extension of the excellent customer service we aim to provide at Maderas.

That said, here are a few other things you can do at our new site to take additional advantage of the host of amenities and services Maderas provides to its members and guests.

You can:

Book a caddie – Maderas is partnered with Premier Caddie, and our “Caddie Service” tab walks you through the range of caddie options (forecaddie or professional) and caddie services provided by each and also details rates and provides a guide to the gratuity. If you’ve never taken a caddie, it’s an option to consider. It’s simply a different game with the level of service and course confidence they provide.

Reserve rental clubs – Maderas recently updated its rental clubs to the Callaway X Hot line and our “Club Rental” details the set, allows you to service premium clubs for your round and take advantage of receiving a complimentary set of six Supersoft golf balls.


Book a lesson – Our “Maderas Golf Academy” tab is your guide to booking a lesson at Maderas with a member of experienced professional staff. Our page details all the practice resources available at Maderas as well as provides professional pros, contact info. and rates for our pros. Club fitting is also available at Maderas if you’d like to have your equipment as finely tuned as your game.

Peek in on our pros –
The LPGA’s Tiffany Joh is among our staff pros, and she has her own tab to provide you a look inside the life of a pro and glean a little insight into how the pros hone their game at Maderas.


Book a wedding – Maderas is an increasingly popular wedding destination, and our web site has vast and growing resources to assist couples considering Maderas as a wedding venue. We’re constantly updating our content to assist brides and grooms in making this life-changing decision by sharing our services as well as the experiences of others who’ve started their new lives at Maderas.

Shop our virtual pro shop – The Maderas pro shop is virtually represented under the “Golf Shop” tab and allows you to peruse and choose from a limited selection of our apparel and accessories. Also of note, especially around holidays and birthdays, gift cards can be purchased here and have universal use at Maderas.

kobe burger

Dine with us – You can make reservations for The Grille at Maderas, including for our popular Wednesday Burger Night, through our site. You can also survey our ever-changing menu and detailed information about and our fresh and local offerings, including a range of craft beers.

Those are the highlights of the new site, but as you explore you’ll find even more tabs and virtual resources (such as how to get a free round for your birthday) to guide you through your Maderas experience.

If, by chance, there’s something the site doesn’t provide that you feel would benefit your experience, and that of future members and guests, please bring it to our attention. We’re happy to have to have you as a content caddie if you see an area of possible improvement, and we’re also encouraging of you sharing your experience at Maderas with others through the social media channels we make widely and readily available at the site.

But, at present, we believe our Maderas virtual experience is uploaded, upgraded and ready to serve you wherever and however you choose. Thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you at the club very soon.


Four Observations About The Playing Experience At Pauma Valley


There are some calls in Southern California golf that simply must be answered. You don’t turn down a tee time at Torrey Pines South, nor do you tell Sherwood Country Club, or a handful of elite others in the LA area, to hold. I’m guessing the same holds true for Pebble Beach, Pelican Hill, etc., but my caller ID hasn’t put me to that test yet (but line one is open).

Pauma Valley is one of those. You have to know SoCal golf on a certain level to know about Pauma Valley, kind of like that cool club in a tourist town only locals seem to know about it. Pauma maintains a low profile in its mountain surrounds but holds a high profile for, among others, golfers looking to retire with the game or live the lifestyle it offers.

Pauma Valley provides all of that from sun up to twilight and course to clubhouse. It’s a place where you can live the game and get lost in it in quiet isolation from the outside world if you so choose.

And for decades, host of Hollywood celebrities and others have done just that often via the club’s private landing strip, which still does steady traffic.

Intrigued yet? Here’s an overview of the Pauma Valley experience.

pauma 3pauma 4

A True Golf Oasis – Finding Pauma Valley is the first challenge. That’s more easily done in these days of GPS, but you’ll hardly be the first to drive the 76 and wonder if a course actually exists. Even more so than some of the covert country clubs in SoCal, Pauma Valley truly gives you no clue until the gates suddenly appear.

But when you arrive? Pure golf paradise. The stunning mountain backdrop and fountains spouting amongst the greens make an indelible first impression that speaks to any golfer no matter your level of connection to the game.
I don’t know how many courses you remember seeing for the first time … but this will be one of them.

pauma 2par 5

A Fair Test of Golf –
Pauma Valley was Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s first California course project and among his most prized anywhere (I’m told he only ranked Spyglass ahead of it). The word “fair” is a tenant of Jones’ design philosophy and it rings impeccably true at Pauma Valley. Good shots have good outcomes. The rest? Well, it’s best to learn where you can miss at Pauma Valley, but it’s rare that you’ll get a result you didn’t feel was deserved. And sometimes the course even helps you out. I had a shot stop short of a woodchip-base OB boundary that I still can’t believe held up, but it allowed me to salvage par from my best drive of the day.

And unlike some California courses that can have split-personality nines, Pauma is a consistent test, though the back is more elevated and thus the more scenic side of the two. The bunkers at Pauma visually challenge golfers repeatedly but aren’t overly penal compared to some of the other elite courses in SoCal (Torrey South, anyone?).
Also unlike Torrey South, the par 4s are of reasonable distance on a course that can be had with a hot round.

There’s no hole here that seems unconquerable (I nearly parred the No. 1-handicap hole on my first try) and you quickly learn mostly that position it as a premium for success, a true shot-makers golf course.

john wayneNo. 14

Left: The plot of the former John Wayne home. Right: No. 14.

The Legend and the Lore – The first time I played Pauma Valley, I had little insight into its rich history and its celebrity membership over the years. A passing “Oh, that’s John Wayne’s house” on No. 14 was the closest I got to a true history lesson – and that was a bit inaccurate (it’s the plot, yes, but not the house).

I got a more detailed introduction the second time … and even a book on the subject.

You can read tales about the days of Rev. Billy Graham’s time as a member as well as about when a program called “Challenge Golf,” produced by Arnold Palmer, recorded the likes of legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player competing at Pauma Valley shortly after it opened in 1961.

These days you’re more likely to hear about Huey Lewis shot in his latest round. But there are always tales to be told at Pauma Valley.

10 teeegreen 10

No. 10

A Mountain Masterpiece of Design – If you truly appreciate course design, Pauma Valley must be seen – and, naturally, played. The way the mountain views unfold around you as the round evolves are the product of a master truly understanding his canvas. The course could not seem more naturally, or artfully, placed in its surroundings. No mountain course along the I-15 quite blends in its surroundings so serenely and pleasurably as Pauma Valley. You are truly at one with your golf environment in the most undisturbed way possible.

The back nine, in particular, starting with the uphill par-4 10th, gives you two courses to enjoy – the one looking forward and the one behind. A 360-view of the course is required to truly appreciate all its nuances and aesthetic touches.

If you’re prone to golf tunnel vision, do yourself a favor and pace yourself here – perhaps walk? – so you’re fully aware of the complete golf experience available to you. The pet peeves of public play – pace, etiquette, etc. – couldn’t be more removed here.

Yet if you really want to be alone with you game, this is a great place to do it and why such pros as Phil Mickelson have found their golf solace here.

A telling detail of the design comes when asking someone about the signature, or their favorite, hole. My host was legitimately stumped, as am I after playing it twice now. I have favorite stretches, but to choose a single hole over another is too much hair-splitting. It’s simply that close amongst a number of worthy candidates.

Wherever you made your last birdie is a likely tie-breaker, and here’s hoping you get that chance soon.

For information about membership at Pauma Valley, or holding a private event, you can contact Terry Abeyta at or 760.742.3721, ext. 111.