Have a safe and happy holiday. The blog will resume posting regularly after Dec. 1.
Aviara Golf Club at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad has joined the Troon Golf global network of more than 200 courses.
Currently the annual host of the LPGA’s KIA Classic, Aviara is routinely rated one of California’s top resort courses and is the only Arnold Palmer design in San Diego. Impeccable landscaping and being situated next to the Batiquitos Lagoon define the property, which also features dramatic elevation changes on the front nine.
Each hole is truly a unique experience at Aviara.
“Aviara Golf Club at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort is a spectacular property, and we are excited to be involved,” stated John Easterbrook, executive vice president of operations at Troon. “Located in an ideal golf destination, we are confident that our services and expertise will contribute positively to the facility’s success.”
The property’s amenities include: a two-story, 32,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial clubhouse and the adjoining Argyle Steakhouse with indoor and outdoor balcony seating; showers, locker rooms; an upscale golf shop, driving range and an oversized practice putting green.
Troon players, including Maderas members, can now enjoy playing privileges at Aviara.
For those Troon members unfamiliar with Aviara, we provide the following five highlights of the course and overall playing experience.
1. Immaculate landscape – On the first tee, the starter welcomes you to an 18-hole botanical garden, and that’s exactly what Aviara is. An amazing array of plants and flowers accent every hole. The course is truly a visual treat. There’s always something in bloom at Aviara.
2. Oversized greens – Aviara is known for having greens the size of helipads. Get ready to stroke some of the longest putts you’ve ever hit if you can’t knock it close.
The greens are the course’s defining characteristic, which is funny considering they were originally a construction mistake. The construction crew doubled the size of the greens on the front nine. Rather than tear up the greens, course officials chose to double the size of the greens on the back to match.
The result is what you might term a happy accident, as players now look forward to the sizable undulating greens at Aviara.
3. Outstanding par 3s – The strength of the course is its par 3s, which many consider as a group to be the best in San Diego. Three of the four feature carries over water and are, again, impeccably landscaped. No. 3, a short par 3 with ponds in front and right, is considered the course’s signature hole. No. 6, the only one without water, is the toughest of the bunch. It’s a long uphill, a nearly 200-yard carry, to a blind green. An ocean crosswind can complicate matters even more here. The two par 3s on the back are all carry over water, with No. 14 being from an elevated tee box. You will want an iron and a camera phone on the par 3s because they are truly beautiful golf holes.
4. Sweet Treats – Aviara loves to tempt your sweet tooth. There are fresh-baked cookies available next to the putting green and a special treat waiting for you on the course. The course marshal usually greets you on the 8th green with a bucket of Tootsie Pops. Hopefully you’re walking off the green with birdie, but if not, you’ve at least go a consolation prize.
5. No. 18, a beauty and a beast – Besides having the best par 3s, Aviara may also boast the toughest closing hole in the county. This dogleg right offers a beautiful view of the Batiquitos Lagoon from the tee. Savor the view because you might not like what happens next. There’s water right, OB left and likely an ocean breeze in your face. Ideally, you want to place you tee shot just inside the fairway bunker on the left and we recommend clubbing down to a 3-wood if necessary to do it.
You just want to be in the fairway here and not the water. Then you’ve got a long, narrow approach into a green where water is still in play on the left, cascading down a gorgeous waterfall. Par is a great score here, but here’s guessing it’ll take you a few rounds to card one. After playing this course nearly a dozen times, I’m still waiting.
No. 18 at Aviara during the KIA Classic
To book a tee time at Aviara, call 760.603.6900. You can learn more about the course at www.golfaviara.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Current equipment specials
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
No. 18 at Goat Hill Park
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.
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.
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.
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.