JC Golf: New GolfTEC Building to Open at Encinitas Ranch on Dec. 6th

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The first GolfTEC facility to be located on a golf course property in Southern California will open at Encinitas Ranch on Dec. 6th.

The 2,500-square-foot facility consists of four teaching bays, a putting lab and a fitting studio. GolfTEC is the nation’s leading provider of golf lessons, giving millions of lessons a year in high-tech settings around the country.

At the launch event, which will take place from 3-7 p.m., golfers will be invited to tour the new facility and learn about GolfTEC’s instruction programs. GolfTEC will provide food and beverage and giveaways and contests for guests to participate in. There will be a contest on a virtual course, for instance.

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Golfers are invited to bring friends and family to the opening. GolfTEC Regional Franchise Owner Suzanne LaTour says the Encinitas Ranch location will be one only three studios located on a golf property. The company has 190 franchises total.

“It’s just a great environment and it gives us our natural audience,” LaTour said. “We love to support local golf courses and local golfers who want to get better. And we think JC Golf does a great job. We think this all matches up pretty well.”

JC Golf Director of Golf Erik Johnson said this project was years in the making and is a ground-breaking partnership.

“This is a pretty unique situation for us and for GolfTEC,” he said. “To us, it’s a natural relationship. We’re trying to offer as many golf opportunities to our guests and players as possible.”

Johnson said Encinitas Ranch will maintain its current instruction staff of nine teaching pros. GolfTec will provide an alternative to or an extension of that instruction.

“GolfTEC is a very different instructional model than a private model. For instance, it you take a lesson here and go to Myrtle Beach, your next lesson will be waiting for you at GolfTEC there,” he said.

“We feel GolfTec complements our current instruction and exposes our players to their brand. And having them there also brings new players to Encinitas Ranch. It’s very mutually beneficial.”

Questions about the event and new facility can be directed to GolfTEC Encinitas Ranch at 760.208.1400.

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The Good Stuff

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One of the first pieces of writing advice I ever received remains one of the best, and I’ve practiced it daily ever since I was told it as a junior in high school: “You read the good stuff to write the good stuff.”

I practice it daily by trying not to start my writing day until I’ve read something good. Good might seem a bit of a nebulous goal, but I know it when I read it. The good stuff originally came from Sports Illustrated and mainstream print but has now migrated to blogs and websites I have in my reading rotation, which still largely consists of sportswriting.

Annually, the good stuff arrives in The Best American Sports Writing anthology, a compilation that, as the title says, consists of the best work from the previous year. Having your work included is like winning the Heisman or an Emmy for a sportswriter.

This series started the year I graduated high school – 1991 – and I’ve literally grown up with it as a writer. I just picked up the most recent edition as plane reading for my upcoming trip to Hawaii. Past volumes have been my travel books for years. I’d simply grab a few years at random and toss them in my bag and then later re-discover a great read and get engrossed all over again.

And that’s what these books do for writers: they suck you in. They always arrive before Christmas and are always my most anticipated read of the year. My ritual used to find the book at the bookstore, thumb through to see how many selected stories were familiar to me and then immediately rush home to retire to the couch and fall in love with writing all over again. It was always a great escape from the start of winter.

I read ever story and every page, but I never read the book cover to cover. I hop around looking for treasure buried in subjects where I don’t usually tread as a reader: mountain climbing, bowling, chess, etc. These in fact are the stories I usually learn the most from because they’re making me going somewhere I really don’t want to go as a reader, but the storytelling is so compelling, I have to finish.

And I just used the word “learn” and that’s the other things you do with these books a writer. You learn what works, the tricks of the trade and, perhaps mostly important, where the bar is, i.e., what the good stuff really looks like. You know because you’ve just been handed 300-some pages of it.

I could go on and on about favorite stories from these volumes over the years, which would be a fun list to do, but instead I’d like to focus on the other great read you can count on from these books – the foreword.

The foreword is written by the series editor, Glenn Stout, and I liken it to a coach’s pep talk before the big game. Glenn annually uses this space to pontificate on the state of the craft or offer some industry insight before commenting on the compilation of this year’s volume.

His letter gets you excited about writing and even more stoked to read that year’s volume than you already are. Mostly they make you want to get your stuff in next year’s volume.

His foreword this year is particularly great because it reflects on the history of the series. He talks about his experiences with it over the years and how it has now influenced an entire generation of writers – including me and mostly certainly many of my colleagues.

Before his annual solicitation for submissions, he closes with an anecdote that kind of says it all about what this series means to writers. He talks about a sportswriter reading the book on the bus and an aspiring writer noticing and inquiring how to get started in sportswriting. The writer hanfs his him the book and says, “Just read this.” Yep.

In his foreword this year, Glenn also acknowledges the words of appreciation he has received from writers about the series over the years. Mr. Stout, consider this the letter or email I’ve always been meaning to write and have never sent. Probably the highlight of my Twitter experience was finding you on there and being able to follow my unmet mentor in my chosen craft.

I try not to tell people things they already know, but, Glenn, you truly have a dream job, and thanks for fostering the dreams of us writers over the years and reminding us annually what the good stuff really looks like.

Editor’s note: My post-script to this post is that my current collection of these books regrettably stands at one. When I moved to California, I left the majority of my collection behind. I looked at my books and limited myself to one box given that otherwise I moved out here with only my clothes, a TV, my golf clubs and my car.

Parting with those books was tough. They really are your textbooks and you come to cherish them like children. My only solace was I figured they were retrievable in a Kindle world or via a used book store. But while I’ve made the leap to digital with books, I have a feeling I’ll always prefer this book in print. There’s just something about that ability to pick it up, open it at random and be carried away in the dreamy way I wish all writing worked.


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Looking for gift ideas for that golfer on your list? This helpful TaylorMade gift guide offers something for everyone and segments golfers by level of interest so you can easily shop for the casual golfer as well as the avid.

Happy holidays. Happy shopping.


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Product Review: ClubCrown Stripe – Take Your School Spirit to the Course

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With the college football season headed to the home stretch and bowl season and college basketball tipping off, this is the height of the college sports year.

If you want to take your college spirit to the course, ClubCrown has an easy way to do it with a product that allows you to customize your clubs in the design of your favorite school.

For $19.99, you can purchase the ClubCrown Stripe, a stylish decal and alignment aid that is easily self-applied to your woods.

I was offered one to review and rather than my alma mater, Iowa State, I chose the school of my most spirited California golfer friends, a Texas A & M alum.

We took her Callaway Big Bertha and customized it quite quickly after watching the following video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xbT8hOun54.

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Your kit comes with the actual stripe and a practice stripe, but we didn’t find the practice stripe necessary. After watching the video, the application was quite simple.

The key is proper alignment of the stripe using the sweet spot sticker you put on your club. As long as you properly align the stripe and take the time to smooth out the stripe so as to eliminate any bubbles or wrinkles, you should be home free.

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The string you pull to cut the decal works quickly and cleanly, leaving you only to discard the unused portion of the stripe before you’re finished.

The final product is quite impressive and now comes in the colors of some 70 schools. It can be applied to every wood, from driver to rescue and is available at Roger Dunn.

It aids alignment not only being in the center of the club, but also by being the exact width as the ball.

And the product can also be removed without causing any damage to the club’s finish.

To order, or learn more about the product, go to www.clubcrownstripe.com.

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JC Golf: Carmel Mountain Ranch Closed, Being Transformed By Turf Reduction

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Update: Carmel Mountain Ranch will re-open Dec. 20. Go to www.jcgolf.com to book your tee time.

Brown is the new green in golf. You started hearing that adage at the U.S. Open, played on the native areas and sandy soils of the renovated Pinehurst No. 2.

Largely in response to the state’s severe drought, that turf reduction movement is now coming to California, and JC Golf’s Carmel Mountain Ranch is to be amongst the state’s first courses to be transformed by the process and reduce its footprint.

Roughly 50 acres of turf have been targeted for removal at Carmel Mountain Ranch, which will be closed until nearly the end of December during its $4.4 million renovation.

When the course re-opens, Carmel Mountain Ranch General Manager Kevin Hwang, says it will be lower-maintenance and therefore help conserve community water resources.

“We’re looking at saving nearly 30 million gallons a year by removing turf and replacing it with native plant material and ground cover,” he says. “After three or four years, that number will go up to 40 million gallons because the plants will be established and no longer need water except in cases of extreme drought.

“The water we’re saving goes back to the people and the community so they can use the water and it can stay in the reservoirs.”

Hwang used a comparison to put into perspective how aggressive a 50-acre removal is.

“The average golf course in Arizona is 60 or 70 acres total,” he says.

Hwang says every hole on the course was touched by the process, with much of the reduction coming between the tee boxes and the fairway.

“You’re going to see native material in the first 40 to 50 yards leading up to every fairway, and that’s a theme you’ll see on every hole,” he says.

Tee boxes are also being moved around as a part of the renovation process, which Hwang says is going to impact levels of players differently.

“The course will be equally challenging, if not more challenging, from the back tees,” he says. “As you move to the forward tees, the course should become more playable once we’re done with the renovations.”

Higher handicap players in particular will benefit for more generous landing areas, Hwang says.

In 2015, Hwang says golfers can anticipate an enhanced playing experience and a greater value for their rounds at Carmel Mountain Ranch.

“We want to establish a new level of service and make the experience for golfers that much better,” he says. “Also what we’re doing is very community-centric and we’re hoping to have more involvement with the community.”


Maderas: John Ashworth Q & A Part 2 – For the Love of Goat Hill and Wooden Clubs

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Editor’s note: This is the second part of a Q & A with Linksoul founder John Ashworth. You can find part 1, where he talks about the launch, success and future of his new clothing brand, here: http://www.maderasgolf.com/maderas-q-and-a-with-john-ashworth.blog

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We now present Part 2 …

Earlier this year, John Ashworth, founder of Linksoul clothing company, purchased the lease to Goat Hill Park, a neglected long-time Oceanside public course that had been targeted for redevelopment.

When he submitted his bid, Ashworth says, half-jokingly, he was simply trying to protect his weekly golf round, but now he find himself as golf’s version of Bob Villa playing “This Old Course” and trying to resurrect the place, which is close to the I-5, with a new vision. At the moment, it’s the Charlie Brown tree of golf courses.
Goat Hill will be the home of the North County Junior Golf Association and, Ashworth hopes, a savior for kids in the area.

Right now, the course is a mix of bare fairways and crab grass, but as we walked nine recently, Ashworth saw beauty where others would only see blight.

To play on a phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the titleholder,” but the more you listen to Ashworth, the more you realize how determined he is to make a go of restoring and preserving the course.

Q. What’s your original connection to Goat Hill?

A. I played it in high school nine-hole matches in the mid 70′s when it was a nine-hole regulation par 36. Then my golf buddies and I started playing there about four or five years ago, and we watched the decline. We heard the city put out an RFP and we we’re afraid they were going to mess with our golf rounds. (Laughing.)
We put together a plan almost as a lark and our proposal was granted. I didn’t think we’d get it, then it was like, “Now what are we going to do?”

Q. What do you see here that others are missing?

It’s a cool spot that just needs a little love. It’s got a lot of great views, and it’s a challenging little course. If we had grass, we wouldn’t be able to keep people away.

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Left: One of the course’s tough-to-hit par 3s. Right: An ocean view overlooking I-5.

Q. But going back to the mission of your company, you were dismayed as a golfer that the course might close. Something about that troubled you.

A. It’s sad to see golf courses like this going away across the country. It’s a big loss, and I don’t think people even realize it. We need to have courses for kids and beginners, and that’s what this is.

Q. Beyond making the course playable again, what’s the bigger mission you see for Goat Hill?

A. We have to get to the course right, but the part I get fired up about is to have a safe haven for the kids in the neighborhood. It’s a tough neighborhood, and we want to have after-school programs and a caddy academy. We want to be a positive influence. We want to keep 13- and 14-year-olds out of gangs and off the streets.
That part is going to be really rewarding. Already is.

Q. What else do you want to see?

A. I want to have leagues, lots of leagues, and get the game back to what it’s supposed to be, which is great social outdoor recreation. I want to have couples leagues and senior’s leagues. I just want to get people out there together.

Q. And a persimmon league, correct? Why do you still play wooden clubs? Have you always?

A. I played woods growing up and in college and then changed after. I went back to woods about four or five years ago.

When you hit them good, it’s just so much better. It resonates in your body. I think there’s more of an art to it. You’ve got to swing a little slower, be a little more precise. But the reward is great when you hit it right. It actually feels better than metal.

Q. Your schedule shifts daily between the clothing company and the course now. You’ve got a lot going. Are you the type person who’s only happy when he’s crazy busy?

I didn’t think I was, but maybe I am. But the days are crazy. No day is typical. But what else am I going to do? It’s a challenge. And if it saves a couple kids, it’s totally worth it.

For everything the game of golf has given me, I have to give something back.

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No. 18 at Goat Hill Park


SKLZ: Rick Smith Demonstrates Gold Flex

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Photos courtesy of SKLZ

This post is part of an occasional series featuring elite PGA teaching pro Rick Smith taken from a clinic he did at SKLZ in Carlsbad. These posts will be a mix of golf drills and training aid demos. In this installment, Rick demonstrates Gold Flex, a training aid that has gained huge popularity on Tour. Rick explains why and provides a guide for using Gold Flex.

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Rick’s explainer: A lot of pros are using this. It’s got a very soft, rubbery shaft with a heavy weight on the end. The objective is to get into a rhythm where you’re feeling the sequence of your swing.

You start by swinging it back and forth to loosen up. Then you want to focus on sequence – arms, hands, wrists and body in unison.

If you cast, like 90 percent of golfers, and disrupt the downswing flow, your mistake will be amplified. It will make you feel like you’ve casted more than ever before.

You want to feel the weight of the head and the softness of the shaft. You want it to cock and uncock smoothly, without any violent action. You feel a lot of power with this when you load and unload it properly. It feels good. It’s a crack-the-whip feeling.

You can use this at home, on the range, anywhere. But one thing about using it on the range: If you warm up with it and then hit some bad shots on the range, go back to it. It’ll help you rediscover your sequence.

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JC Golf: A Basket Drill To Check Your Swing Path

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Photos courtesy of Southland Golf Magazine

Editor’s Note: This is a re-post of an instruction piece that ran in the Nov. issue of Southland Golf Magazine. It appears here with an additional photo.

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By Paul Miernicki of Twin Oaks as told to Corey Ross

Owning the first 16 inches of your swing is paramount to a good swing path and is the basis for this easy takeaway drill involving two range balls and a range basket.

Simply put on ball in front of the club (an iron) and one ball behind. Place a tipped bucket about 4 to 5 feet back with the opening facing you. This is your target.

The object of the drill is to take the back and roll the ball into the basket. This is an indicator of a proper takeaway, meaning on plane. If the ball goes to the inside or the outside of the basket, your club is too inside or outside as well.

This is a great drill because it gives all players a visual cue. And it’s especially practical for better players because it promotes a wide swing arc. In short, this drill lets you know your club is going back on the perfect path.

To book a lesson with Paul, call 760.591.4700.

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Maderas: A Q & A With John Ashworth, The Soul Behind Linksoul – Part 1

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Left: Photo by theaposition.com

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As golf souls go, John Ashworth is decidedly an old one. He favors persimmon clubs, relishes golf history books, is renovating an old Oceanside golf course (more on that later) and prefers walk to riding.

He relates to the game this way because it speaks to his soul, and the embodiment of those belief is his new clothing brand, Linksoul.

Launched three years ago, Linksoul speaks to golf culture and surf culture and creates common ground in a clothing line that has quickly populated pro shops in Southern California, including Maderas Golf Club, and nationwide and recently went international.

Linksoul is the third evolution of Ashworth’s apparel career, the most notable being the clothing line of his namesake now owned by TaylorMade-Adidas.

After a brief break from the corporate world, Ashworth decided to spin a new line off of the Linksoul name he had trademarked years earlier and set out on his own.

Ashworth set up shop in Oceanside and has been happily re-conquering the world of golf apparel in a new way ever since. These days Ashworth seem to enjoy designing for the game as much as he does playing it.

“We’re very lucky to design for the golf market. It feels like we’re off the grid from the real world,” he says. “It’s great when coming to work feels like getting away with something.”

At age 55 and at a time when his career could be winding down, Ashworth is perhaps busier than ever. Besides launching his clothing brand, Ashworth is restoring Oceanside’s neglected Goat Hill Park golf course, which is just a mile from his office.

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The goals of Ashworth’s twin passion projects are to get ahead and give back. He recently took some time to talk about both.

Q. What’s the history of the Linksoul name?

A. I used it on t-shirts with Ashworth and trademarked it. I always liked the name and what it stood for. I thought if I ever did another brand that’s what it’d be because it has a real deep meaning to me. It’s true and it’s real, and that’s what you want in a brand.

The timing was right three years ago to make it a brand with its own personality, culture and thumbprint.

Q. What is the origin and meaning?

A. I came up with it when I was playing a lot of links golf in Scotland. I was also reading Michael Murphy’s, “The Kingdom of Shivas Irons,” in which he wrote, “Golf is what links the flesh to the soul.” I always liked that. And that’s how it started.

Q. How does that apply to the brand?

A. The true definition of links is, “The sandy dunes land that links the land to the sea,” and we’re trying to link the land to the sea by linking the golf culture and the surf culture.

From that point of view, it’s perfect for what we’re trying to do from a clothing and culture standpoint. And “soul” is the spiritual essence of the human body. And golf has a spiritual competent.

Four guys from different parts of the world can show up on a tee box and have their souls linked through golf.

Q. How much do surfing and golf have in common?

A. A lot. You can surf with a group, but ultimate you’re in charge of your own game, just like golf. And they’ve both tough to learn.

They are very similar in a lot of ways, and both very soulful.

Q. Growing up in California (Escondido), did you golf or surf more as a kid?

A. I was a range rat as a kid. My parents would drop me off at the course and I’d be there all day. But I had buddies who were surfers.

Q. When and why did you take up surfing?

A. I surfed a little as a kid, but didn’t really get into again until my 30s when I lived right near the beach. I had just had my first kid, and I wanted to learn how to surf because I wanted my kids to surf.”

It’s a tough sport. There’s a huge learning curve.

It took me a least a month to feel like I could go surfing and actually catch a wave. And that was after going every day.

Q. Which is tougher: Golf or surfing?

A. Well, land doesn’t move. (Laughing.)

Q. Three years in, how do you feel about the growth of the company?

A. I like where we’re positioned. I like the quality of our clothing and our look. We’ve got a full line, but we do a lot of cool graphic t-shirts. And we’ve got a board walker short that is a board short you can swim in. Guys love it. It’s super comfortable.

In our golf shirts, we use mostly natural fabrics with some very special treatments so they don’t shrink, fade and are very soft and comfortable with easy care finish for and no ironing needed. Guys love them.

We mostly want to come into the golf industry and give people a choice. And a lot of people are choosing us.

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Q. Geographically, where has the brand had its best success?

A. Obviously, California, but we’ve done well in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. We’re better on the coasts, though we’ve gotten a great response in places like Denver.

We’ve had requests from all over the word, back when we didn’t ship internationally. We’ve just now started that, which is awesome.

But we have fans called Linksouldiers – they call themselves that. They’re really into it. They like the clothing and what we stand for.

Q. That includes Geoff Ogilvy, John Merrick and Lucas Glover, the guys who wear your gear on Tour. How did those relationships start?

A. They all came to us so we sent them some stuff, and that’s how it started. It’s nice to have somebody wearing it unpaid and just because they like it. They’ve become good friends and are really behind what we’re doing.

It does help (to have Tour presence). We’re so lucky, because we couldn’t pay to get that. But the way the world is now, you’ve got to have a presence to have that credibility in the golf world.

Q. How is the business challenge most different for you this time?

A. The interesting thing about this go-around is the Web. That really wasn’t a factor starting in starting my businesses before. This time around, it’s crazy how everything has changed. We decided from the beginning we had to have our own web store and to make that our own TV station so to speak.

Q. Do you feel like you’re at the top of your game professionally?

A. I’m 10,000 hours in (editor’s note: reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of a professional) and I finally feel like I kinda know what I’m doing. But you still can’t take anything for granted because the business changes every day.

In part II of our conversation, Ashworth will talk about his Goat Hill project and his affinity for wooden golf clubs.

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San Diego Tourism: SD’s Five Best Courses for Kids

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Left: Oaks North. Right: Reidy Creek.

This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority. You can find this post on their site at http://www.sandiego.org/articles/golf/5-kid-friendly-golf-courses.aspx

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Golf is a game for all ages, but it’s now more kid-friendly than ever in San Diego thanks to a new way to play the game.

In late summer of 2014, two courses in San Diego installed 15-inch cups, making the hole about the size of a large pizza, as a part of TaylorMade Golf initiative termed “Hack Golf” designed to draw new players to the game by making scoring easier.

Oaks North in Rancho Bernardo and Lomas St. Fe, both executive courses, were among the first adapters. Oaks North dedicated its nine-hole east course to the new game while Lomas St. Fe committed all 18 holes, hosting a 15-inch cup and a regulation hole on each green.

The new game has especially been a hit with kids, juniors and couples, say course managers in the area.

“The holes are here to stay,” says Lloyd Porter, Head Professional at Oaks North. “This is for the next generation of golfers.”
Players on the “hack” courses also get the benefit of forward tees.

The following list of top courses for kids in San Diego starts with those two courses and includes others known for being particularly hospitable to kids, juniors and beginners.

1. Lomas Santa Fe Executive Course – Course architect William Bell is best known for designing Torrey Pines, but he also built this 2,431-yard gem in Solona Beach. Lomas has been named one of America’s “Top Short Courses” by Golf Range Magazine the past two years and consists of all par 3s, save two 4s, and has an ocean view from the eighth tee box. Lomas is also the only course in the county currently offering the 15-inch cups on 18 holes. The holes are all placed in the backs of the greens so as not to be obtrusive to regulation play. Lomas also offers Glow Ball night golf on a semi-monthly basis, giving beginners, kids and juniors another way to enjoy the game.

2. Oaks North - Nine of Oaks North’s 27 holes are set up for “hack” rounds, but all three executive nines are terrific for beginners.

The east course hosts the 15-inch cups, but even played with the forward tees, the new game hardly reduces the course to pitch and putt. Three of the tee shots are more than 200 yards, giving younger players ample room to swing away and hit clubs all the way through their bag.

The 15-inch holes are donated by flags with the number “15” and orange balls with the same number on the tee boxes.

JC Golf originally had an introductory offer of nine holes for $15 for the east course (cart not included), but visitors will find all three nines affordable, playable and walkable and the practice facility, which includes a 15-inch cup as well, a great place to learn and be taught.

3. St. Mark Golf Club/Lake San Marcos – These two courses in San Marcos are a doubly good destination for kids because they pair a playable regulation course (St. Mark’s) and an executive course in the same community complex.
St. Mark’s hosts a number of junior tournament. Its largely flat topography and manageable yardage (6,398 yards/par 71) make it ideal for juniors and beginners, though a long par-5 on the back and a severely elevated par-4 on the back provide a test.
Lake San Marcos’ recent renovation included new cart paths, but the course is plenty walkable and a pleasurable stroll while honing your iron and short-game play. A new clubhouse is also in the works.

4. Reidy Creek – Even if you’ve experienced a number of executive courses, chances are you haven’t played one like Reidy Creek in Escondido.
Two things in particular make Reidy Creek unique: the setting and its sophisticated greens.
The course winds through a wooded area in the shadow of the Escondido mountains, making it more like a miniature version of a regulation course than what people largely associate with executive courses.
Sometimes-severe bunkering and heavily sloping greens make scoring a challenging even though the course is played entirely with irons.
Reidy Creek is an aesthetically enjoyable and challenging way to learn the game.

5. Mission Bay – Located just minutes from downtown, Mission Bay is an executive course owned and run by the City of San Diego.
Speaking of setting, how do ocean breezes and night lighting work for you? You can enjoy both on this par 58 that includes four par 4s.
Unlike some executive courses, Mission Bay also has a driving range.
And if you like a little history with your golf, Tiger Woods won a Junior World title here once.

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