On a serene Saturday in Balboa Park, I captured beauty in bloom on top of the water and a playful fish below. Do koi know when they’re on camera? The video at the end might make you wonder.
Earlier this year, Maderas Golf Club unveiled La Casa, a renovated bridal ready room and private luxury suite for the bride and her party of her special day. What follows are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about La Casa. Photos courtesy of Brian Kent from ABM Photography.
What is La Casa?
La Casa is a dedicated, detached house that is owned by Maderas Golf Club. It was specifically designed in its interior to be used by brides and bridesmaids the day of the wedding.
What are the amenities?
La Casa offers a make-up table and mirror, a hair chair and a dress-fitting form; a dining area; indoor and outdoor luxury seating; a fire pit with a canyon view; a private dressing room; a large restroom; and a kitchenette that has a Keurig coffee maker. The suite is air-conditioned, and a wood-burning fire can be started to keep guests comfortable if a rare chilly day arrives in Southern California.
What food and refreshments does Maderas provide on wedding day?
There’s bottled, filtered water and fresh fruit and champagne are delivered from the Club upon arrival.
The average stay is between four and seven hours. Maderas is happy to accommodate outside caterers during this time and works with a number of vendors. During this time, the groom is accommodated by a groom’s man ready room at the Club, which offers locker-room facilities.
How large is La Casa, and where is it?
La Casa is a spacious 1,100 square feet and is used by only one bride on her special day. It’s located one mile from the Maderas clubhouse and is one of the largest bridal ready rooms in San Diego.
Is the bridal party able to park at La Casa?
Yes. There’s ample parking that can accommodate up to 12 cars. Parking at La Casa and the club is free.
When are tours of La Casa offered?
Tours are Tues. through Sat. and can be arranged by contacting Laura Magid at email@example.com or 858.217.2564. You can also find more information about weddings at Maderas at www.maderasweddings.com. La Casa is reserved at the time of the wedding reservation.
You can also now find Maderas weddings on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pages/Maderas-Golf-Club-Weddings/1686710988215872?fref=ts
Editor’s note: This got dropped from the printed draft, but I wanted to mention it because I think it’s a telling detail about playing Pala Mesa for the first time. My playing partner, Tony Starks, with me caddying him in his first round there, struck the ball fairly flawlessly tee to green on most of the front nine – and didn’t make a birdie (though he did hole out for par on No. 9 and gave a club flip for the ages). The greens here are notoriously touchy and tough to master. If you don’t end up shaking your head over putts here, your last name just might end in Spieth. But the putts, and course, are fun to get to learn. Just don’t expect to get it the first time.)
You can find Southland Golf’s online version at: www.southlandgolf.com/articles/golf-185-california-remains.html
When it opened in 1964 in Fallbrook, Pala Mesa set the standard for golf in the area and along the I-15 corridor.
More than 50 years later, its classic California layout remains untouched, but that’s about to change.
To offset the distance gains in club and ball technology, and to stay relevant on the tournament circuit, Pala Mesa is looking to extend the tees on eight holes of the 6,500-yard layout to push it past 7,000, a target distance for tournaments.
Pala Mesa General Manager Kevin Poorbaugh says the course is fortunate to have the room to grow.
“We want to put in some tournament black tees – like on 9; take that back about 50 yards (to 468 from the tips),” he says, referring to the straight away par 4 adjacent to the driving range. “And we’ll build some new tees boxes on the other holes.”
Pala Mesa Golf Sales Manager Mark Mittlehauser says the course is being proactive with the move to maintain a strong tournament business.
“The tournaments haven’t specifically asked for that, but we can broaden our opportunity if we do,” he says. “We’re going to stretch it as much as can. Every little bit will help.”
Four holes on each side have been targeted for extension on a course that has a mix of driving holes and tight strategy holes.
The added distance will add challenge to Pala Mesa, but the true challenge – its signature slippery greens – will be unchanged.
The day I played, my playing partner hit the ball flawlessly tee to green on the front nine in his first round ever at Pala Mesa … and didn’t make a birdie.
Time and again, he watched short- and medium-range putts dodge the hole.
That’s the classic Pala Mesa experience and one of two reasons people who judge the course by its scorecard underestimate it, Mittlehauser says.
“The course isn’t super long but it plays longer due to some uphill shots. But the real test is on the greens, no doubt.”
Nos. 4 and No. 7, both par 3s
The course’s strength is its par 3s, each of which prove a par 3 doesn’t have to be 200-yard behemoth to be challenging. The longest is only 166 yards from the blues. But finding the green off the tee on a par 3 at Pala Mesa is no guarantee of anything.
Undulating greens and strategically defensive pin placements have coaxed many a three-putt on the par 3s. But they are fun to play nonetheless and score-able with solid iron play and a steady putter.
Overall, course management is a premium to score well at Pala Mesa, Poorbaugh says.
“It’s a very favorable course,” he says. “It rewards goods shots. A But the ones that aren’t as good will penalize you.”
With the closing of San Luis Rey Downs in nearby Bonsall, Pala Mesa is experiencing something of a renaissance by inheriting many of those players. Its weekly men’s league has more than doubled to 80 players.
A course that normally hosts around 47,000 rounds already surpassed that mark in July.
That patronage and the drilling of a second well all bode well for the future of Pala Mesa as does the opening of college residences for Palomar College nearby in three years.
“It’ll be great because we’ll be able to introduce a bunch of college kids to golf,” Poorbaugh says.
That’s already happening of a junior level at Pala Mesa, which hosted the Future Champions tour in July as part of the Junior Worlds.
By the time the college students arrive, Pala Mesa will have undergone a management change and a renovation to its course and resort. The property is in the process of becoming a Hilton Doubletree.
The resort has 133 rooms, which at 400-square feet are large by industry standards, but out of date.
The rooms will be refreshened, Poorbaugh says, which will only increase the lure of the property and boost its already thriving wedding business.
The property currently hosts 70 to 80 weddings a year.
Besides golf and weddings, Pala Mesa has found additional ways to utilize its space and introduce people to the property.
The course hosts an annual vintage car show which draws around 20,000 people and a country music festival.
Even with golf and weddings thriving, Poorbaugh says the staff is constantly considering innovative ways to introduce people to the Pala Mesa experience.
“It all gives us exposure.”
Pala By The Numbers
8 – Number of holes to be lengthened for tournament play
50 – Number of yards to be added to the par 4 9th, which currently plays to 418 from the tips
80 – Golfers in its men’s club, more than double from a year ago
47,000 – Past annual rounds for Pala Mesa, a number it has already surpassed in 2015
1964 – Year the course opened
Editor’s note: I originally posted this to LinkedIn. It will be part of an occasional series talking about content marketing for golf courses, including blogging and social media. You can find the Maderas Golf Club blog here.
When I tell people what I do for a living – golf and travel writing – they tell me I have a dream gig. And they’re right.
But it gets better.
For two years now, I’ve done golf and travel writing in the traditional sense – for magazines, web sites, etc. – but the unique part of my business is that I actually write FOR golf courses, meaning doing content marketing, social media and blogging. And that order is actually inverted because blogging drives the bus – or golf cart, if you will.
This part of my business came about shortly after I relaunched my career and immediately realized a par 5 of opportunity pertaining to how courses marketed themselves. They were still largely doing it through fliers and static web sites – and, by and large, still are.
Here’s why what we’re doing at Maderas Golf Club, a Golf Digest top-100 course in San Diego, is changing the game and why your course should consider blogging.
I started working with Maderas on its blog a year ago now after previous experience with a course group in San Diego that gave me my first chance to realize the potential of aligning content with the overall marketing and business objectives of a golf course.
My first paid blog work came from courses I’d written about in print who were thrilled with the coverage. Usually you’d had that experience and move on, but I told them the relationship could continue if they invested in a blog. And they did.
I’ll now fast-forward to Maderas because they’re my model and, at present, the ultimate manifestation of the concept. Blogging at Maderas began with us doing one post a week with content that fed into each of its overall business entities: the course, instruction, tournaments, food and beverage and weddings (much more on weddings in a second, btw.).
I also encouraged Maderas, since it has a partial tourist clientele by being located 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, to be a little bit regional in its mentality and basically be the golf magazine San Diego doesn’t have.
That thinking led to the first blog post – the then-recent opening of the PGA Tour Grill in the San Diego airport, something that had been covered rather quietly locally. The GM at the time and I had lunch there. He was impressed with the venue and service and we wrote a post endorsing the experience to our golfer “friends” at Maderas. Their previous posts had gotten around 50 views; this one got 500.
And that’s how a beautiful partnership began that led to posts about Maderas’ caddie services, its course, its staff and a host of other content opportunities. In the first six months, the blog generated around 10,000 impressions. That’s not 100,000, but it’s not 1,000 either. Mostly, it was a start.
We now post twice weekly. We post a video lesson from the Maderas’ Director of Instruction, Chris Mayson, on Monday and come back with something from Maderas’ content rotation later in the week.
One change we’ve made to the content rotation came after a survey of those first six months. I ran the numbers and realized our one weddings post (“The Top Five Reasons To Host A San Diego Wedding At Maderas”) outperformed every golf post in the same time frame. In a record year for weddings at Maderas, the general manager, Michael Flickinger, said, “Let’s make it a monthly.” And we did. And those posts now prove to be popular month after month.
That shows you how blogging allows you to truly take control of your marketing dollars if you embrace the mentality and realize the opportunities – which are everywhere on a daily basis, by the way.
There are many great outcomes and success stories I could share, but I want to cut the point of this post, which is to spin it forward for you and tell why blogging/content marketing/media is smart marketing for golf courses at a time when the industry needs to be embracing change more than ever.
Customer service/relationship building
The mentality of the Maderas blog planning process is this: “How are we being a friend to our golfers this week?” In short, a few answers: We’re helping you improve your game; we’re talking to you about the PGA Tour (we preview all the majors, btw.); we’re helping you host a great wedding with us; we’re recommending new entree from our kitchen or introducing you to the new fall menu; we’re telling you about the slick hat we just got in the pro shop; and we’re even telling you about that cool new restaurant that’s about to open in town.
In essence, what this is doing: We’re virtually recreating conversations you’d naturally be having on the tee box or in the clubhouse. We’re being their golf buddy. And who do golfers always want to golf with … their buddy.
You may have heard about the ongoing drought in SoCal. Those water cutbacks began to impact Maderas this spring – and it was starting to show. The driving range was being allowed to go brown; water was by request only, although the club hadn’t made table tents that told you that and why yet. But Maderas was also taking responsible conservation actions golfers couldn’t see – replacing sprinkler heads with more efficient ones; capturing ice bucket melt water and using it to irrigate flowers.
Rather than let the topic became an elephant in the room, I suggested to the Maderas GM a post giving people an answer about the drought before they asked the question. We wrote “Four Ways Maderas Is Conserving Water” and that got posted on the blog and in their newsletter. It also got picked up as part of an infographic a marketing agency did about California golf and the drought.
Maderas couldn’t make it rain, but it could at least make sure that an information drought didn’t make it worse.
Reduced print budget/increased exposure
Maderas has largely provided for blogging services by reducing its print advertising, but it hasn’t lost anything in terms of exposure. The blog does steady traffic and tells stories traditional media would never write about them … but stories print outlets find useful, and print-worthy, nonetheless.
In my 18 months of course blogging, I’ve now had 12 posts picked straight up as magazine pieces, including two for Maderas. So if you’re still someone who prefers traditional print exposure, there’s an outcome for you. You’re making it easy for the media by giving them something ready to go … and something you control 100 percent.
Sales can be a hard one-to-one to track in a day in age when we’re told we can track everything (FYI, we can’t), but the maturing of the blog relationship is indeed now begetting sales. I put a golf offer out on Twitter last month that at first was greeted with kind replies and retweets before, 45 minutes in, was snapped up for a foursome by an avid competitive golfer, new to San Diego, who follows the blog.
I only expect more of this type of thing to continue has Maderas’ network and its relationships grow and we become better at seizing the day in the new marketing world and leveraging great content with strong social media reach – and it takes both. Otherwise, it’s like playing top-of-the-line clubs without buying golf balls …. Or vice versa.
In sales parlance, content is a warm handshake and everything is a soft sell. So I ask golf course professionals and general managers, “How many hands are you shaking online? How are you being a friend to your golfers today?”
Are you ready to give blogging a try? Who knows? It might just become the best new club in your golf marketing bag.
So if you’re playing Pecto Park as a par 3 from the elevated tee – the Altitude Sky Lounge – you’d split the Ps in SUPPLY and play the wind, right? I’m thinking an aggressive line. That sand doesn’t worry me. Looks like you’d get a fairly friend lie.
But who am I kidding? I’d probably end up playing a recovery from the concession stands.
It’s Only Nine Holes! – At a time when time is the reason so many cite for not having enough time for golf, The RanchLB provides the perfect golf antidote. It just takes just over two hours to play the nine holes at Ben Brown’s Golf Course. Even the busiest lives can find time for that, right?
And it’s nine holes that will require you to hit most of the clubs in your bag, which makes it great for your overall game improvement whether you’re a beginner or you’re a veteran looking for a tune up.
What follows are eight more reasons the Ranch is the coolest nine-hole course in the country.
A Good Walk – Always – Good walking courses are hard to find in SoCal. Well, you just found one – and it’s one of the best.
Laid out through a canyon, walking the course is a tranquil golf stroll that provides an evolving view of the landscape. Every hole reveals a new facet and adds to your appreciation of the truly unique setting, which is a combination of national park and a tropical island. The RanchLB really is its own little golf ecosystem.
Discovering it on foot provides great exercise and adds a natural pacing to your game, which is how the game was meant to be played.
To Discover Our “Wild” Side – Did you know there are deer in Laguna Beach? At least three families live on the course and are often seen grazing around the fourth green and fifth tee. You’ll find wildlife on the ground, in the sky and swimming in our streams at The RanchLB, something that only adds to the ambience of our little golf nirvana.
Now On The No. 1 Tee: Breakfast/Lunch – You can enjoy breakfast or lunch on our patio overlooking the course before or after your round. At no other course in SoCal can you sit this close to the action. Our “gallery” is growing as more and more people discover, among other things, one of the best breakfasts in Orange County. And dinner will soon be added to the menu. Our restaurant, Harvest, opens in 2016.
Stay and Play – Also in 2016, you’ll be able stay and play once our 97 hotel rooms, some of which overlook the course, come online. A stay at The Ranch will include free 15-min. lesson/swing analysis (by appointment) to make sure you get the most out of your round. We have a golf course culture we want you to be able to participate in to the fullest.
Stay and Swim – But if you stay, and do or don’t play, there’s always the ocean. We’re a quarter-mile – a quick golf cart ride – from the wonders of the Pacific Ocean. And if you do venture to the beach, we suggest you stick around for sunset: Laguna Beach has some of the best.
Life In Laguna – The RanchLB celebrates the good life in Laguna Beach and wants you to partake. The city’s many restaurants and shops are nearby and allow you to experience the unique culture of our quaint beach community. Many artists make their homes here, and you can sample their work in many galleries and other venues. The Laguna nightlife is equally artistically alive with musical acts performing throughout town.
Thirsty Thursday – Our popular local happy hour is just one of several themed nights at the course, which also hosts musical guests and movie nights. We aim to provide a complete entertainment experience during your escape to The RanchLB, whether it’s for a day or an extended stay.
You Don’t Have To Stop At Nine – There’s no stop sign posted after the ninth green. You’re welcome to keep going. In fact, if you’re playing it for the first time, you might want to try again. Clubbing the pars 3 in particular can take two or three rounds to get right and varies due to the ocean breeze that sails through the canyon.
And if you didn’t see the deer on your first go-round, a second nine might be mandatory. A birdie, a deer and then maybe a beer … now that sounds like the perfect round at The RanchLB.
This is also known as the chip putt, a stroke to add to your short-game arsenal.
Here’s my piece about The Ranch at Laguna Beach in the digital edition of the Southern California Golf Association Magazine. Again, thrilled with how this turned out.
If you haven’t discovered The Ranch yet, I highly recommend. It truly is the coolest nine-hole golf course in the country.
This was taken last Saturday in Laguna Beach, near Montage, not far from the beach entrance off PCH for The Ranch at Laguna Beach.
I’ve been sharing this photo during my travels around SoCal this week and it has inspired awe and glowing reviews from a populace used to seeing beautiful sunsets.
I believe it’s one of the five best I’ve ever seen. What makes it special is the thin cloud layer hanging just above the ocean that split the sunset in two before. I’ve seen this awesome effect before – in fact, my first sunset living in CA was one of these – but I’ve never seen it so close to the water. I’m calling this the snowman sunset.
I took these photos and video perched atop a rock in the ocean, which also helped get the shots. Sometimes you sense a sunset scenario early that has the makings of true greatness. This was one of those. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
If you’re staying at The Ranch, know this beach location is just a short golf cart ride and brief beach walk away. How much more awesomely close to awesome can you get? Enjoy and don’t forget to share your photo at @theranchlb.
A truly historic season for the PGA Tour hits the home stretch by returning to Whistling Straits for the PGA Championship – and Rory McIlroy’s surprise return from injury to defend his title and his No. 1 ranking only adds to the intrigue.
Here are four storylines teed high for the PGA, including Rory’s risky decision, followed by Chris Mayson’s picks to end what’s been an MVP prediction season (including the Farmers, he’s three for four picking the winners). He’s got a Masters champion pegged for the PGA (Hint: Not Tiger). It’s a doubly special week for Chris because he has a student, Brendan Steele, in the field.
Why Is Rory Risking It? – I’m going to cede the floor early to Mr. Mayson to address the week’s hot topic: Why would Rory McIroy return from the Achilles injury that cost him a spot in the British Open to play such a tough golf course and risk re-injury? Is it simply the ego of being world’s No. 1 and the PGA defending champ?
Chris: “I am not sure why Rory McIlroy is playing and risking his health. The only reason behind his quick recovery and entry into this week is surely because he covets majors more than the Fed Ex Cup.
“It would have made much more sense to take another two weeks off and comeback for the playoffs, but I can only assume that he wants another major that badly and it is worth the risk. It would be great to see a McIlroy and Spieth duel this week, but I think he is going to be way too rusty to compete at that level.”
And this is the same player who once WD’d over a toothache. Obviously, Rory has found a new pain tolerance, but the gain may only negligible or worse.
No Grand Slam But A Historic Hat Trick? – The Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee wasted no time predicting a third major for Jordan Spieth this week after his near-miss at the British Open. While he’s running away with Player of the Year, will he tote home a trophy for his mantel to go along with The Masters and U.S. Open?
It would surprise no one if he did to cap The Summer Spieth, and it would certainly send a message to the Tour that it might be more of the same in 2016.
Spieth and McIlroy are paired on Thursday and Friday. Two men enter, one man makes the weekend? If it’s two, we might get a preview of 2016 earlier than any of us expected. It would be a fitting finish to the year of Jordan, Rory and Rickie.
Or Spieth could find himself in a familiar scenario …
A Familiar Foe – And A Haunted One Here – We’re, of course, talking about Dustin Johnson here, whose name was first synonymous with “bunker ruling” at Whistling Straits before “three-putt” at Chambers Bay.
Will poetic justice arrive at a place where DJ has all the usual DJ advantages, or will he be felled again by his familiar fails in majors?
But you can be sure DJ will check his rulebook once and twice to determine which bunkers are naughty (traps) and which ones are nice (waste areas) for grounding your club.
Will the rulebook blindside anyone else this week, or did DJ teach an eternal lesson?
Straits or Straights? – The early feedback from the practice rounds has been about how tough the rough is, particularly off the tee. Finding fairways will be especially critical this week in a PGA that sounds like the traditional U.S. Open instead of what we got at Chamber Bay this year.
Chamblee on tee shots: “Big misses here have big consequences.”
He was, naturally, talking about Tiger, whose resurgence is in debate but there’s no debate that he has a tame track record here. In 2010, he’d just switched swing coaches and spent the week tinkering. Is he still tinkering again in 2015 or he has finally tamed his new swing?
Chris Mayson has another Masters champ in mind this week, and he’s about to tell you why.
The final major of the year is upon us and it seems that golf season has only just begun. The first two majors were won by the best player in the world this year, Jordan Spieth. St. Andrews was too much of a weather pot luck to produce the best player, but Spieth’s run at three consecutive major victories was extremely admirable. You would have to assume that he will be in contention again this week.
My pick this week is one of the longest players on the PGA Tour, Bubba Watson. I always go by the belief that if you want to know who is going to win this week, look no further than who finished second last week – and that was Bubba at Bridgestone. He is clearly playing well and he loves to shape the ball, which you have to do on all Pete Dye golf courses, and his prodigious length will allow him to cut off some of the dog legs.
My other sleeper pick is my own student, Brendan Steele. Brendan hits is very long and straight, can move the ball both ways and is coming off a strong seventh-place finish last week on the PGA Tour. I know I am biased, but I think Whistling Straights is going to be a great course for him.
No matter the contenders, I’m sure that Whistling Straights will produce some drama, the same way it did last time.
Go to www.maderasgolf.com.