Maderas: Premiercaddie.org at Maderas – Course Expertise and Confidence at Your Service for Hire

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Editor’s note: This post also appears on the blog at www.maderasgolf.com.
Also for a related read, scroll down a few posts to read a ranking of the most walkable courses in San Diego

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Learning the nuances and proper plays of any golf course, and particularly one as undulating as Maderas Golf Club, takes time and is usually knowledge acquired over numerous rounds.

One way to expedite the process, however, is to outsource it by hiring a caddy.

Maderas is part of a group of San Diego courses that makes caddie services available to its guests through a partnership with premiercaddie.org.

Premier Caddie is owned by former UCLA golfers and experienced Southern California caddies Chad Beckley and Joel Tabachnick. Their staff of nearly 50, some of whom has their PGA card, caddies primarily at Maderas, Torrey Pines, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar Country Club and Rancho Santa Fe Country Club, but can also be requested to work other area courses.

Beckley and Tabachnick founded their company two years ago with a mission of enhancing the service and experience for golfers on area courses and have been happily looping weekly rounds ever since.

Beckley’s particular caddying career grew from a love and talent for reading greens, he says.

“I’ve always read greens really well and that helped me get into caddying, which has honed my skills even more,” he says. “Caddying, for me, is extension of the playing experience that provides you another perspective on the game.

“Doing it made me fall in the love with the area courses all over again.”

That love has produced a thriving business. Beckley says Premier Caddie staffs around 200 rounds a month and is seeking to expand its course client base. The company staffs both recreational and competitive rounds as well as private events.

Beckley is a great promoter of the caddie experience and the benefits of hiring one.

“There’s no real relationship in sports like a caddie relationship,” he says. “A caddie can give you a confidence and comfort level on the course you may not have known before.

“That can help you score lower, or just have a better experience. For instance, if you’re going back and forth on the wind, or a yardage, or a putt, the caddie can give you the reassurance you need to commit to that play.”

And Beckley says that sometimes a play that, especially an amateur, wouldn’t make on his or her own.

“A lot of amateur golfers are timid,” he says. “For example, I’m an aggressive short-game player. A lot of amateurs don’t attack the golf course the way that I do, but I can give you the confidence to play that way.

“At a minimum, the caddie gives you another way to think about the course.”

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The difficulty of putting Maderas’ large, undulating greens and the wide variety of shot options on some tee shots are a course reasons a caddie can be a great aid at Maderas, but neither of those are Beckley’s primary reason.

“The course plays a lot differently depending on speed, which varies there. If it’s fast and firm, you need a lot of knowledge to be able to go low there partly because the greens have so much slope and undulation,” he says. “And if it’s windy, which is there almost every day, the right play there can go a long way.”

Beckley says a caddie experience at Maderas is a great complement to the service experience.

“Their customer service is amazing from the top down there, so the partnership has been seamless.”

Not every caddie customer is looking to shoot a number, Beckley says. He says some just want a competent guide, or even a good friend, on the course.

“Resort caddying and competitive caddying are completely different, but for both the customer-service aspect is the main thing,” he says. “We have a lot of customers who just want to have a good time and get to know you over those 4 ½ hours. A good caddie is able to tell a few jokes and be able to relate to people.

“A lot of times they just want to get to know you and learn from your experience.”

Making the most of a caddie experience, Beckley says, is making the caddie aware of your expectation.

“When you hire a caddie, be very upfront,” he says. “The caddie isn’t just there to be there. He’s going to club you right and read the greens, and it’s your job to let him know he’s doing a good job.

“Or if you don’t want them to do something, like read greens, you’ve got to let them know that too. It’s as much a friendship as a partnership, so treat them like a friend.”

And friends share stories, which caddies also seem to have a ready supply of, especially about famous clients.

Among others, Beckley has caddied for professional golfers (Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples), professional baseball players (David Wells, Bobby Bonilla), professional football players (Kyle Boller), professional basketball players (Jordan Farmar) and … the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

One of the best non-PGA players? Professional hockey player Jeremy Roenick.

“Heck of a player,” he says. “Hockey players always have that nice takeaway and stay down through impact.”

Another of Beckley’s caddie testimonials comes from last year’s Farmers Insurance Open. Despite hitting 18 of 18 greens, Beckley’s player didn’t make the cut. He suggested a putter grip change to the player after the tournament.

“Being confident enough to make a suggestion to one of the best golfers in the world takes some guts,” he says, “but that’s part of the job. You’re there to help the player in any way you can.”

The levels of caddying service vary (a regular caddie or a fore caddie, for instance), but Beckley says a standard rate at Maderas is $160 to carry two bags and $115 for one. A standard gratuity is $100-plus.

Caddies can be booked as far as advance as you like, Beckley says, or at little as 24-hour notice.

And while you may ride during your round at Maderas, Beckley will walk, which he says is a good workout always, but especially at Maderas.

“It’s a pretty good walk,” he says, with a chuckle. “But walking is good for you and it gives you different perspective on the game.”

Maderas General Manager Bill O’Brien says Premier Caddie has provided a consistently excellent experience to golfers at the course, and he extols the virtues of the service.

“The caddie experience really enhances a round of golf,” O’Brien says. “Most of us, regardless of our abilities, day dream about what playing golf inside the ropes might feel like. Taking a caddy is the closest to that experience most will get. It’s so worth it.

“The memories tied to a round of golf with a caddy are some of my favorite.”

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Re-Post: How Caddies Make the Game A Whole Lot Better

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Editor’s note: This is a re-post of something a wrote a year ago that pertains to the above post about caddies about Maderas. This piece captures what the caddie experience means to me.

For whatever reason, it didn’t dawn on me until about 10 minutes before we teed off at Sherwood on Monday that we’d have caddies. If it had, I would’ve been 10 times more excited than the 10 times more excited I already was than for a normal round of golf.

Caddies are such a great way to experience the game, and a luxury I’ve rarely been afforded, but one that I think would hook more people on the game if they got to experience it even once.

When you hire a caddie, you’re also hiring a tour guide, a swing coach, a greens guru, a motivational speaker, a cheerleader, a comedian, a personal assistant and more all rolled into one. In my experience, it’s a guaranteed good time, and an always memorable one, on the golf course when you have a caddie.

(And I realize that, for some people, we’re into issues of elitism here and some of people’s other pet issues with golf, but let’s suspend that for a moment, shall we?)

The first time I ever had a caddie was when I played in Jamaica, where Jamaican law requires you to play with a caddie. Our caddy’s name was Devon, and he looked like he could’ve walked right off the course from a 1970s Masters, white coveralls and all.

Anyway, I didn’t totally know what type of experience I was in for with him, but I got a pretty good idea on my first tee shot, which I hooked high into the palm trees on the mountain on the first hole.

Devon dashed off the tee box, shouting, “No worries, mon! I got it! Hit again!”

Cool! Throughout the round, Devon was basically a walking GPS, previewing holes, giving me yardages, reading my putts and at the same time, basically teaching beginner’s golf to my playing partner, all while cleaning our clubs. He balanced it all remarkably well.

Anyway, I recall it being a very relaxed round and so much fun that we went back the next day. And that’s when I hit the shot I recall most.

While playing a long par-3, I carved a 5-wood incredibly close to the hole, or so it looked to me from the tee. Doubt started to creep in though because my caddie, a man with a line for every golf shot under the sun, was silent. Finally, he approached me on the tee, took my 5-wood and handed me my putter.

“They always say the pro walks off the tee carrying his putter,” he told me, making me feel 10 feet tall walking off the box.

It turned out that the putt was much more than a tap-in, but I still saved par, and it was my hole of the trip, largely because Devon made it so.

So when a caddie named Bruce hopped into my cart on Monday, it automatically gave me a good vibe about how the round would go, regardless of the score. And, truth be told, at the beginning, it didn’t go well, but Bruce made that part memorable, too.

On the third hole, I hit a rare slice off the tee and way OB right into the backyard one of the multi-million-dollar homes. As I handed Bruce my club, he provided an interesting piece of course knowledge.

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, that’s the backyard of Britney Spears’ old house,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied, “if you’re going to lose a ball, better it be almost famous, right?”

My round turned around on the fourth hole, where Bruce’s read of a tough uphill breaking putt helped me make birdie, and a great golf day ensued from there.

Sherwood was a spectacular, borderline surreal, golf experience for me, and undoubtedly one of the five best courses I’ve ever played. I would’ve enjoyed the day regardless of how I played, but my scorecard probably would’ve looked drastically different were it not for Bruce’s guidance.

I’ve come to think of a good caddy as being like a good personal trainer: they get that 10 to 15 percent more out of you that’s hard to get out of yourself.

That certainly happened on the back nine, where it felt like Bruce had seen me swing enough to that he knew how to club me and what shots to recommend. I hit an uncommon number of good golf shots over those nine holes, but none better than on the last two.

Our next-to-last hole was a 491-yard par-5 with a green fronted by a creek. The play off the tee was to hit the left side of the fairway and let it roll right. I hit my best tee shot of the day and actually carried it past the suggested landing area.

That left me 230 out, prime yardage to get home in two with my hybrid, and Bruce was giving me the green light all the way. And I was only too willing, largely because I’d botched a similar shot on a previous par-5 off a perfect lie.

This lie, however, wasn’t so perfect. It was a bit of a side hill and especially troublesome for me because it wasn’t conducive for the stanch I needed to hit my draw. Because of this, I couldn’t get comfortable over the shot.

That’s when Bruce stepped in and redirected me.

“Take it off the right side of the bridge,” he said, causing me to focus left instead of right.

This created a dilemma. Hitting where Bruce recommended meant playing a cut, an uncertain outcome from me. Part of the allure of playing right was a bail-out area, where I could still recover for birdie if I didn’t completely pull off the approach.

Seeing I was still debating, Bruce provided the closing argument.

“Trust the read, boss. Hit the shot.”

With that, I settled in on the recommended line, and when I planted my lead leg, it felt solid. And I’d now be swinging more with the slope than against it. I was all in. And I fired.

The ball shot out like a pin-seeking dart. Tracking at the hole all the way, it easily carried the creek, hit short of the flagstick and rolled 15 feet past.

“That’s the best shot you’ve ever hit in your life, bro!” Bruce shouted, and high-fives and fist bumps ensued.

On the green, Bruce guided me to a two-putt birdie and later blamed himself for costing me eagle.

“I should’ve backed you off 20 percent on that stroke. You were a little too amped up there.”

No complaints here, Bruce. That was no gimme.

Having pocketed two birdies for the round, I was more than satisfied with my play for the day, but we still had one hole to go – a 146-yard par-3.

The hole was playing longer because the pin was tucked on the back tier. I was thinking of playing safe, but Bruce handed me my 8 and told me to go right at it. So I did.

Six feet. Another round of cheers broke out, making me suddenly feel like I had my own gallery.

Bruce greeted me at the cart by handing me my Cleveland putter and on the green he provided me with a two-word read on the putt. Straight in. And it was. Birdie!

Four birdies in a round is my record, and it wasn’t on a course nearly the caliber of Sherwood. I walked off the last hole on a golf high and ready to play 18 more. But alas we were done, and it’s probably better that way. You don’t mess with walk-off birdies. That was a first for me.

Anyway, a day like that makes you ponder the possibilities for your game. What if I had a Bruce for every round I played? Dare to dream. Friday it was back to the reality of approaches that just miss the green and birdie putts that don’t quite find the hole.

As we parted in the parking lot on Monday, I joked with Bruce that I’d like to have him in an app. that I could just open and point at the course when I needed a yardage, a read, or even maybe just a little comedic a relief.

Only I wasn’t joking. Move over, Siri. I want Bruce.

Journey at Pechanga: Q & A W/Hall of Famer and Golfer Andre Reed

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Photo courtesy of www.beaumontenterprise.com

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Editor’s note: An alternate and abbreviated version of this story appears in the October issue of Southland Golf Magazine

Former all-pro Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, one of Journey at Pechanga’s most prominent golfers, achieved his sport’s ultimate accolade in August – induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Reed, who now resides in Del Mar, was inducted into the hall to the cheers of thousands of adoring fans and before millions more worldwide watching the broadcast live on the NFL Network.

The evening was the culmination of a 16-year career (15 in Buffalo) that saw him play in four Super Bowls and set numerous records connecting with quarterback Jim Kelly.

Kelly, who was battling cancer at the time and has since been declared cancer-free, threw Reed one last pass to cap an emotional evening for new Hall of Famer. Reed’s mother, Joyce, was also in attendance and from the podium he told her, “Tonight, you’re in the Hall of Fame too.”

About a month after the ceremony, Reed took some time to reflect on the evening and the achievement and also discussed his favorite San Diego course, Journey at Pechanga, and his neglected golf game amidst the Hall of Fame preparations.

Do you feel any different having been through the ceremony? How has being a Hall of Famer changed your life?
You’re noticed a lot more once you have those three letters (HOF) behind your name. It doesn’t just stand for what you did on the field. It’s also about how you conducted yourself. It stands for history, values and excellence and now you’re part of preserving that once you have a gold jacket, a bust and a ring.

You prepare for (the ceremony) for seven months and then in three or four hours, it’s over. It’s amazing how fast it’s over.

What does through your mind while you’re being inducted? What do you remember now?

On that night, you remember all the other players, your family and the fans and then after you remember what the feeling was like (the ceremony) – and you’ll never lose that feeling. It only happens once, so it’s pretty special. But you don’t just get it for a night. You’re a Hall of Famer the rest of your life. And those words start to sound pretty good rolling off your tongue.

Was there anyone you met who really made the Hall of Fame real to you as far as the magnitude?

Jim Brown. He is such an icon in the sport and for what he’s done for the game. He’s perhaps the greatest football player ever. To see him, really put it in perspective. I’m in the same category with the likes of Jim Brown and he’s now someone you can call a brother – and it’s forever. You can’t get kicked out or cut. You’re an icon forever in the football world.

Did you meet anyone else who impressed you?

The two guys I was in inducted with – Claude Humphey and Ray Guy – were both great guys.

I had to wait nine years to get in and I thought that was a long time. They both waited more than 20. They both got elected by the veterans committee, which makes you realize you don’t do this by yourself and you remember all the people who’ve had a hand in your success. I was really happy for them.

Now I’m one of the 287 like they are, and that’s pretty special.

It sounds like you sacrificed your golf season a bit to get ready for Canton?

Yeah, I try to play as much as I can, but it haven’t been able to play much this year with all of the Hall of Fame stuff going on.

How long have you been playing Journey? What’s your favorite hole?

Ever since I got introduced through Marshall Faulk’s tournament about five years ago, I’ve been playing at Journey at Pechanga. I think it’s one of the best courses in the county. I just love the ambiance of it. And No. 6 (the extremely elevated par-4) is my favorite hole. It’s very challenging. If you’re too far left or right there, you’re done.

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What’s the best part of your game?

My game is scrambling. I can get it up and down pretty consistently. I make pars where most people make bogies because I can make a putt.

My favorite club is my 56-degree wedge. I hit that pretty well from I 100 yards and in when I’m playing more. That’s my game. You don’t score on the tee box.

What’s your best score and best shot at Journey?

I’ve broken 80 over there once – 78 or 79.

Best shot would on No. 10 (short par-4) a few years ago at Marshall’s tournament. The tee was up and I drove the green and ended up two feet from the pin. I’d have the quit the game if I’d made that. (Laughing.)

Do you like to practice at Journey and use the range and short-game area?

It’s a phenomenal place to practice. And the school they have is pretty nice, too.

And you’ve got to get to the range to get ready because it’s a very long course. And it can get windy and a little hot, but I always have a good time there.

I like Torrey Pines, but if I’m traveling to play, I’m definitely going over to Pechanga.

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SD Tourism: The U.S. Open Returns To Torrey Pines in 2021

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Left: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and USGA Vice President Dan Burton at the March press event to announce the Open’s return to Torrey. Photo courtesy of the USGA.

Editor’s Note: The following is the first post of an occasional series I’m doing for the San Diego Tourism Authority to promote golf in San Diego. You can also find this post at http://www.sandiego.org/articles/golf/us-open-2021-torrey-pines.aspx

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An iconic champion at the height of his game. A saavy veteran challenger having the week of his life. A major championship golf event, the first in San Diego, played at recently renovated Torrey Pines.

A clutch putt. An 18-hole Monday playoff. A victory for the ages to add to the sports record chase of our lifetimes, secured on what we’d find out later was a broken leg, only enhancing the legacy of perhaps Tiger Woods’ greatest major championship performance.

Yes, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines had it all. And now it will have a sequel. The United States Golf Association awarded Torrey Pines its long-awaited second U.S. Open, slated for 2021.

We’ll continue to update this information as it becomes available but for now is just a future reminder of the return of one of the PGA Tour’s four major championships to the sunny shores of San Diego.

Total attendance for the 2008 Open was 295,000. The 2021 event should see similar attendance so plan your trip to the Open early.

“Just as San Diego served as home to one of the greatest championships in golf history in 2008, we’re confident that we will once again provide and exciting and dynamic venue for 2021,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer said at the press event to announce the tournament’s return.

Woods will be 45 when the U.S. Open returns to Torrey. His win in 2008 turned Torrey Pines into hallowed ground for golfers. Thousands now annually make the trek to San Diego to play the South Course and experience the mystique of walking in the footsteps of greatness.

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Torrey Pines Head Pro Joe DeBock says the boost the 2008 Open gave the course’s legacy and reputation can’t be overstated.

“You can actually play the course where they played the U.S. Open,” DeBock says. “Torrey Pines became very popular just for that fact. The course brings back those memories in a way that just going back to a stadium doesn’t.

“And it was one of the greatest championships ever.”

City officials used words like “passion,” “excitement” and “electricity” to describe the atmosphere they’re hoping to recapture in 2021. That’s a tall order but certainly fun to think about not only for San Diego golfers, but golf fans worldwide.

As is standard for Opens, the course will be closed during the tournament and the week of preparation prior. Fortunately for visiting golfers who want to squeeze in a few rounds during those two weeks, San Diego has abundant options, with nearly 90 courses in the county.

Golfers staying downtown are likely to gravitate to Riverwalk and its 27 holes, harbor-side Coronado Golf Course on Coronado Island, or Balboa Park Golf Course, one of Torrey Pines’ sister San Diego public courses.

Those willing to drive a little can discover Maderas Golf Club in Poway, one of the country’s two courses rated top 100 by Golf Digest, or Barona Creek in Lakeside, another course consistently rated among California’s best as is the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

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Until 2021, we have the annual Farmers Insurance Open to look forward to and Phil Mickelson’s renovation of the North Course at Torrey Pines in 2015. Yes, golfers have it good in San Diego.


The Best Golf Walks in San Diego

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Photo courtesy of www.golfdigest.com

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I had a really fun interview this morning with Chad Beckley of Premiercaddie.org about his company’s caddying services that unwittingly produced the material for a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

My list of laments about Southern California golf – and trust me it’s a very short list – includes the lack of walkable courses. Before moving here, I walked the majority of my rounds in the Midwest. In fact, my favorite way to play was to hike out for nine in the late afternoon.

Largely due to course layout and topography of California courses, and a bit due to course business models, a good golf walk in SoCal is tough to find … but not impossible.

But if anyone would know where to find one, it’s a caddy since they make their living on their two feet in golf shoes every week.

Anyway, Chad provided me a list that’s better than I could’ve come up with on my own. But we before we get to that, Chad also makes a great case for walking.

“I’m not a strict purist, but walking is a fundamental part of the game. And it’s good for you,” he says. “Also, I think players who walk have a different respect for the game than those who don’t.”

And a different appreciation. I felt like a new a course better once I had walked it and played better as well. Also, walking builds a natural pacing into your game. And I’d certainly much rather walk on a course where I’m anticipating slow play. Riding in a cart just makes it worse.

But anyway …

So here’s the list from a real authority on the subject.

Best Golf Walks in San Diego, courtesy of premiercaddie.org

1. Torrey Pines
2. Ranch Santa Fe CC
3. El Camino CC (Oceanside)
4. Admiral Baker - “The north course is the sleeper of the county. So good. And great greens.”
5. Coronado
6. Balboa - “It’s a little tougher walk the rest. Definitely No. 6, but still good.”

Of those, I’ve played Torrey, El Camino and Coronado and all three would’ve made my list. I also would’ve added St. Mark’s in San Marcos, although I’m not sure walking is an option at least as far as the cart is included in your round.

Torrey is obviously a fantastic walk. I would likely do it every week if I had a city card. El Camino is where I’ve walked the most and wouldn’t play it any other way. So enjoyable.

I didn’t walk Coronado when I played it but would if I did again. It’s flat as the deck of an air-craft carrier.

Premier Caddie currently provides caddying services primarily at Torrey Pines, Maderas Golf Club, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar CC and Rancho Santa Fe CC.

If you have any other preferred walks, please post in the comments section, which I know is getting spammed to high heaven. I’m working on getting that cleaned up. Thanks for your patience. The blog is a little busy.

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Maderas Golf Hole Highlight: No. 6

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For those who’ve played the short par 4 6th before, you know the story. For those who haven’t and are about to, consider this required reading.

This is one of the holes on the course where a little local knowledge can go a long way.

The yardages on the card (black – 352; Maderas/blue – 333; white – 310) suggest a hole that can be had, possibly in one brilliant tee shot to the green to set up eagle.

The check for that aggressive thought is the view from the tee box.

From the Maderas/blue tees, you see a lengthy carry over an environmental area to what seems to be a tight tree-defined opening to the fairway with bunkers looming beyond on the right. More worrisome, is that there appears to be uncertainty about what lurks left. Can you miss there or not? If so, how much?

Maderas Head Professional Chris Mayson says this visual intimidation is part of the defense of the hole.

“It presents itself as a hole that’s extremely tight and is trying to make you make a different swing,” he says. “But when you get up in the fairway, you realize there’s a lot more room left and right than you think.”

That’s why if you’ve brought 3-woood or less to the tee, Mayson wants you to go back to your bag.

“I encourage my players to hit driver here,” he says. “I want them to play this hole as aggressively as possible.”

The reason is that are two possible recoveries here if the desired outcome of the fairway or green isn’t achieved. There’s not only a bailout area left – which is also where’s a drop on this hole – there’s one right, down around the 7th tee box.

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And the traps that define the right fairway aren’t an impossible recovery. The steep and massive trap to the right of the green, however, can be, especially if the pin is in front. That could be your recovery if your tee shot misses the green.

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But the second shot is somewhat of a second thought here for Mayson. You mostly don’t want to give it a way here by playing cautiously off the tee, he says.

“As soon as you start playing defensively here, it’s a hole that will eat you up.”

For that most aggressive of plays – driving the green – your aim line is the left side of the green, or just left of the right fairway traps if you play a draw.

I’ve often played 3-wood, a confident club me, here, but I took Mayson’s advice on Monday and hit driver. I smashed a tight draw down the right side that settled nicely about 80 yards out from a far front pin position, which is sort of its own little peninsula on this green.

The only problem for me was that 80 yards is a 3/4 wedge, which is not my forte right now. And, sure enough, I ended up left and long. My playing partner, reaching a similar spot in the fairway but from the tips, dropped in the wedge I meant to hit and walked off with an easy two-putt par.

But I’m at least sold on the tee strategy. I’ll never hit anything but driver here again.

To see a flyover of No. 6, click on http://www.maderasgolf.com/fly-over.html FYI: This gives you all 18. You need to scroll to No. 6.


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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

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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!

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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 …

Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free! Ends November 6, 2014

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

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Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free! Ends November 6, 2014

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.

Breakfast

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Lunch

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