Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Maderas: The Perfect Pairing – Kona Kai Resort and Spa & Maderas Golf Club

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Maderas Golf Club has entered into an exciting new partnership with the newly renovated Kona Kai Resort & Spa on Shelter Island to be the member golf benefit for San Diego’s “club of clubs.”

Kona Kai members will receive a special rate on green fees at Maderas that will allow them to experience both the best of the coast and the course in San Diego.

In May, the 129-room Kona Kai Club unveiled the results of a $25 million renovation designed to restore its status as San Diego’s most exclusive and acclaimed private club.

After a brief closure, the club has returned with revamped interiors, a transformed Vessel restaurant and dining experience, and an all-new, lavish spa. Touting luxurious amenities and impeccable service, the Kona Kai Club is primed to once again be “the crème de la crème of San Diego private clubs.”

Maderas General Manager Michael Flickinger says the partnership is a natural since the two clubs provide complimentary San Diego experiences.

“Maderas Golf Club is proud to have partnered with the newly renovated Kona Kai Resort Club,” he said. “Members of the exclusive Club are entitled to discounted green fees seven days a week when not relaxing, exercising, sailing or enjoying the private beach at Kona Kai.”

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For more information on Kona Kai, go to To inquire about membership, contact Hollan McBride at or 619.819.8176.

To book a tee time at Maderas, a two-time top 100 United States public course honoree by Golf Digest, call 858.451.8100.

new Maderas 18

The following is a look at the club’s impressive renovation:

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Southland: Salt Creek Golf Club Course Overview


Aug. Southland

Thanks to the U.S. Open being played at Chambers Bay, links golf has enjoyed an unusual amount of time in the spotlight in 2015.

One course hoping to capitalize is Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista, the most links-like course in San Diego.

Located 15 minutes south of downtown, Salt Creek arrives at its 15th anniversary in the wake of changes in ownership, its clubhouse and its course setup.

The Salt Creek staff is hoping those changes and a month of promotion of links golf turn more people on to the experience. But General Manager Armando Najera and Director of Golf Marco Ochoa know links golf will never be for everyone.

“We have a lot of people who really love it, and then there are some people who it’s just not their thing,” Najera says. “But the people who love it like that it’s a different golf course every day. You can hit the same spot in the fairway two straights days and end up in two different spots because of the wind.”

Getting people to that second round can be tricky, Ochoa says, on a course with multiple blind tee shots and layout quirks to master.

“You get a feel for the golf course after about three to five rounds,” Ochoa says. “But the problem is that a lot of people don’t give it that second chance because it’s not what they’re used to.”

That said, Salt Creek has tried to use exposure of the U.S. and British opens as teachable moments and founder players, especially younger ones, receptive.

“We had our biggest summer attendance ever this summer at our (five-day) golf camps,” Ochoa says. “We’re doing our part to grow the game.”

course view

The learning curve with links golf is something you saw play out in real time at Chambers Bay as the pros played it for the first time.

“When you fight links golf, you only get in more trouble,” Najera says. “You’ve got to adapt to the style of the golf course.”

That means good shots won’t always have good outcomes, but bad ones can also get good breaks.
“The course is firm and quick with rolling and sloping hills,” Ochoa says.

salt gren

But that terrain also for creative play, Ochoa says, especially in the short game.

“It’s bump and run, or we’ll have people putt from 50 yards out,” he says. “You can do that here.”
It takes a similar mix of creativity and club selection off the tee.

“You’ve got to play from the fairway here and sometimes that means taking iron or hybrid or 3-wood off the tee,” Najera says. “It’s not a course where you want to take driver every hole.”

The course is 6,900 yards from the tips, but usually plays shorter due to the terrain, depending on the wind.

“There’s a breeze every day,” Ochoa says, “but when we have Santa Anas, the course can play 500 yards longer.”

salt clubhouse

To enhance to the links look and feel of Salt Creek, the new ownership group, Pacific Hospitality Group, gave the clubhouse a faux finish resembling the clubhouses in Scotland.

It also added a deck that can accommodate 80 people and now overlooks the 18th hole, which used to be No. 2. Swapping the par 5s has improved aesthetics and demeanors, Najera says.

“It gives the course a more traditional feel,” he says, “and it’s an easier par 5 so more people leave the course smiling now.”

Keeping locals coming back and attractive new players from players such as Arizona and Canada is crucial to Salt Creek’s success, but Ochoa says the added exposure and appreciation for links golf in 2015 can only help.

“We’re a much different golf experience than anything you find in San Diego,” he says. “It’s what sets us apart.”

Salt Creek By The Numbers


2 – Meals you can get out of the BLT, the par 5 of BLTs

14 – The hole closest to Mexico, which you can see from the green

15 – Time in minutes south from downtown San Diego

2000 – Year the course opened

2012 – Year the course came under new ownership

90 – Drive in minutes between Salt Creek and its sister course, Warner Springs

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6 tee

Video Post: No. 6 At Journey At Pechanga, A Tee Shot Unlike Any Other in SoCal

6 tee

Those who’ve played it never forget it. Those who return always look forward it.

The tee shot on the par 4 6th at Journey at Pechanga is simply unlike any other in SoCal. In a region with elevated tee shots in spades, this is the grand daddy of sky balls and dramatic drops to the fairway.

The hole plays a daunting 488 yards from the tips, 458 from the blacks and 441 from the whites, but the elevation change and friendly breeze knock that number down a bit. I’ve birdied it from the blacks going driver/8 iron. That, however, was not my outcome from the tips recently. After my best drive of the day came the buzz-kill question: “Did you see it land?” I had not.

Monday lie

Ugh. I’m sure you can finish the story of that one.

But finding the fairway sets you up for a round-making birdie or a super satisfying par.

Here are a couple looks at a tee shot that makes golfers salivate.

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SCGA Fore Magazine: Rickie’s Rise

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Editor’s note: This post is a link to my piece in the summer issue of the SCGA’s Fore magazine. The story captures Cobra Puma golf on the day of Rickie Fowler’s win at The Players. It relates the business side of a win six years in the making. Timing couldn’t have been any better with this one and my thanks for CEO Bob Philion for sharing the story of the biggest day in company history.

When the mother of all victories for Rickie Fowler and Cobra Puma Golf started to unfold on Mother’s Day, Cobra Puma Golf President and CEO Bob Philion was riding bikes with his wife and two kids near La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad. When his phone let him know this was about to become a working Sunday – Rickie was making a run at The Players Championship – Philion was nowhere near a TV.

With Fowler climbing the leaderboard on the other side of the country, from the seat of his bike in San Diego, Philion made an executive decision.

“I decided it was time to break for lunch,” he says.

Follow the link to the rest of the story: (Page 56)


Maderas: Introducing Coasterra


Coasterra, San Diego’s hottest new restaurant concept, launched this week with a private party and is set to open mid-August on Harbor Island.

Coasterra offers a modern Mexican-themed menu and impeccable views of San Diego from across the harbor. A wrap-around patio offers dining ambiance unlike anywhere else in the city. It was nine years in the marking, but chef Deborah Scott and Cohen Restaurant group got it right. What an exciting new addition the local restaurant scene and wonderful complement to adjacent Island Prime.

Welcome to San Diego, on behalf of your partners at Sunroad Enterprises and Troon Golf. We look forward to dining with you very soon.

Here’s a look at Coasterra:






Creamed corn



The evening’s entertainment – the Electric Angels

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18 barritz

A Change To The 18th Green At Journey At Pechanga

18 barritznew 18

Above: Before and after

In response to player comments and criticism over the years, Journey at Pechanga has reworked its 18th green.

The severely undulating and taco-shaped Biarritz has been softened into a shape more resembling a curved potato chip, according to the Journey staff.

“It was a big decision,” Journey at Pechanga Director of Golf Scott Mallory said. “Ultimately we knew we had to listen to our guests. Before we softened the green, golfers may have been lucky to get off the green with a three- or four-putt. Now that it’s not so unforgiving, we have a phenomenal finishing hole. With two good shots, you can make birdie.”

Journey at Pechanga opened in 2008 after a lengthy planning and design process by Steve Forrest, Arthur Hills and the Pechanga Tribe. With Biarritz greens being an occasional calling card of Hills, Journey’s hole 18 was intended as a challenge of golfers’ forethought and skill. For pros like Mallory and others who golf often, the hole didn’t seem daunting. For weekend golfers and resort players who make up most of Journey’s customer base, however, the green became a frequent topic of contentious conversation.

“This change up makes the hole so much more fun and playable,” Mallory said.

The Journey staff points out to that the new green allows them up to eight possible pin placements, as opposed to only five before the reconstruction. Greenskeepers also like the change because it allows pin areas to recover better from foot traffic and ball marks.

St. Andrews Swilcan Bridge Old Course

Maderas: British Open Preview W/Chris Mayson Prediction

St. Andrews Swilcan Bridge Old Course

A season the Tour couldn’t have scripted any better to make a case for its next generation now collides with one of the game’s special venues to make for a potentially historically epic British Open at St. Andrews.

The possibility of a third straight major for phenom Jordan Spieth hovers over the home of golf, setting the stage for a possible Grand Slam at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

As Spieth’s hole out at 17 for eagle on Saturday at the John Deere shows, little is seeming beyond belief any more when it comes to the 21-year-old Texan. And him hoisting the Claret Judge became a little more likely when defending champion Rory McIlroy withdrew with an ankle injury.

Will history march on at St. Andrews or will it succumb to the quirks and breaks of links golf that Spieth survived at Chambers Bay?

The sure bet is the golf world will be tuning in early to find out. Here’s an overview of the week followed by a few thoughts and a prediction from Maderas Director of Instruction Chris Mayson.

Jordan Rules? – In a season where Spieth seems to be able to do no wrong, some are quibbling with his decision to play the John Deere the week prior instead of working on his links game playing the Scottish Open or prepping at St. Andrews. And then there’s jetlag.

Just as Spieth’s impeccable putting continues to defy all belief and reason, so may he again in prevailing over the skeptics of which there shall remain few, if any, if he wins this week.

The possible payoff not just for Spieth but for golf is huge. What’s already become the Summer of Spieth will drown out NFL training camp noise in August as the holy grail of a golf Grand Slam will dominate the headlines and discussion and give us something not even Tiger could deliver.

Given Spieth’s ability to thrive in pressure situations and elevate himself against the best, and seemingly not succumb to hype, a Sunday run at St. Andrews is the only way this story gets more incredible. And it takes no imagination to imagine that right now.

Rickie’s Run – Following a slip at the U.S. Open, Rickie Fowler regained his momentum from winning The Players to win the Scottish Open and put himself in the discussion at the British. The last five winners of the British have played the Scottish the week before. Will Rickie make it six?

Chambers aside, Rickie’s record in recent majors as good as anybody not named Rory or Jordan, and we know only one of those two is teeing it up this week.

A Tall Tiger Tale? – You have heard Tiger Woods is still playing golf and just did so reasonably well for the first time in a long time – but not a win, mind you.

This has led many, including head Tiger doubter Hank Haney, to predict a big week, and maybe even a win, for Woods – which would be consistent with Haney’s prediction in his book, by the way.

Even with Tiger’s pedigree at St. Andrews (two wins) that seems like an awful big leap after a lot of awful golf, but reviving golf’s most dormant story line is the only thing that could shake up the world more than a Spieth victory.

(By the way, just for fun, can we refer to him as Old Tiger Woods just for this week? Can we? Lord knows the dude has been playing this tournament long enough … )

Louie, Louie – Given his track record in links golf, strong play at Chambers Bay (three rounds in the 60s) and the fact he won the Open the last time it was at St. Andrews in 2010, Louie Oosthuizen is carrying contender status this week.

Will Oosthuizen be that saavy veteran (think Phil two years ago) to peak and get it done again?

Grab a Jacket – For the first time in a few years, it sounds like we’re going to have some real deal British Open weather. The Golf Channel analysts are already talking about scores soaring on Saturday as the winds as predicted to pick up considerably – up to 40 mph – after heavy rains on Friday.

That would make it an old-school Open where the champion is the one who best survives the conditions as much as the course. We haven’t seen one of those in a while, but that could be the story of 2015.

Can Spieth weather the storm, or will he just morph into Hurricane Jordan and whisk away the Claret Jug. Very soon we will begin to know. Happy Open week.


Now on to Chris Mayson’s prediction:

This British Open is tough to call. With the tournament being held at St Andrews it usually goes to a player that knows the intricacy of the course and has experience playing it.

With Tiger far from his best and Rory out through injury, it seems that the door is wide open for Jordan Spieth to get his third in a row but I don’t see that happening. There is so much pressure for him to do well, and he just came off a win that will certainly take some energy away. I will be so impressed if he is close to the lead, let alone win it.

I do think the course is ideal for Dustin Johnson to play well but the scars from the U.S. Open I believe will be too fresh. Typically he would be my pick.

The weather is going to be bad this week so someone is going to have to be mentally tough and know how to play in cold, wind and rain. That’s why I am going for Henrik Stenson. He’s played well the last month and even won in Sweden when it was cold and windy.

Lighthouse and arch

SD Day Trip: The Channel Islands

Lighthouse and arch

Catalina Island is one of the glaring incompletes in my list of visited California destinations, largely because it was on the list even before I moved here three years ago, but I took an adventure of a similar nautical nature recently to the Channel Islands.

A camping trip north of LA afford an opportunity to visit the closest islands to the California coast and was absolutely worth the three hours round trip on the ocean, bumpy day and all as it was in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Beyond that they existed, I knew little about the islands before hoping a boat on a whim, but our hosts, Island Packers out of Ventura and Oxnard, were only too happy to educate once we arrived at our destination across the open ocean.

Comprised of five main islands, the Channel Islands exist within a national park and provide sanctuary to a host of marine life and sea birds as well as a giant kelp bed that underpins the island’s ecosystem. (You can read all about the park’s history, geology, etc. at

If you’re new to California, a trip to the Channel Islands will be an exciting discovery and glimpse of the uniqueness and beauty of the state. If you live here, it’ll be a reminder of the sheer awesome we’re surrounded by in literally every direction on a daily basis.

Rather than a definitive tell-all, let this post rather be an introduction, as it was for me, through photos and video.


This is what awaited us when we boarded in Oxnard.


A this was our boat, which hosted about 30 of us and was manned by a crew of three, who took turns providing instruction and narration throughout the voyage.

seals harbor

And these were the “greeters” who loudly and enthusiastically called out to us as we were headed out to sea.

leaving harbor

The beautiful, tranquil backdrop we left behind …

open ocean

… before subjecting ourselves to the bumps and swells of the open ocean, especially in the transition zone, or shallow water as it was explained to us.

first glimpse

Aside from passing oil platforms that dot the seascape, capturing the natural gas and oil seeps that deposit tar on the beach, our ride out was largely uneventful and devoid of marine life, which was a bit of a bummer. If you’ve ever had a pod of dolphins make a beeline for your boat, you know why.

The islands linger shrouded in fog and haze in the distance until you get close and start to glimpse views like the one above.

This was our intro. to islands. You might be able to hear the narration.

Our cruise largely sailed around Anacapa, an island divided into thirds and home to some sheer cliffs and incredible geologic formations as well as scores of sea birds circling and landing overhead.


You quickly notice the giant patches of kelp in the water and realize where much of what’s on the beach comes from and why it’s sometimes attached to chunks of volcanic rock.

The only structures on the island are a lighthouse and lodging for the Coast Guard. The rest is raw, unspoiled open sanctuary for animals and birds, many of whom you see gathered in flocks in seemingly precarious perches up above.

Before you come to the lighthouse and the arch on one end of the island, you pass “The Gap,” a separation in two of the islands that you’re told can be traversed on foot when the tide is right. It’s quite an awesome sight.


The narration tells you some 170 shipwrecks have happened near the islands, some, naturally, spawning rumors of lost treasure.

And then you get to the arch.

The much-anticipated seals resided on just the other side …

Including my diver ..

Those were largely the highlights, but the trip left me with a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness and diversity of California and a desire to return and hike the island, as about a dozen people did that day.

For more information about the types of trips to The Channel Islands, and related ocean excursions, you can contact Island Packers at or 805.642.1393.

I’ve not had an experience like it in California and anticipate this won’t be my last.