Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Southland: UVO

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Sun protection for golfers and others on the golf course can be a messy proposition.

Sunscreen that’s good for your health isn’t always so good for your golf grips and shirts. Laguna Beach dermatologist Dr. Bobby Awadalla has a cleaner alternative – UVO, a sun-protection supplement you drink.

This year, UVO has been available at a few Orange County courses, but Awadalla is hoping the product will be more widely available, and possibly national, a year from now.

The product is more prominent in the beach- and ocean-sport communities right now, but Awadalla says UVO is just as much a fit for golf.

“Golf is very right for this product,” he said. “The normal round takes between 3-5 hours, and golfers don’t like to get sunscreen on their hands and gloves so they can drink UVO to provide supplemental protection for the entirety of their game. Golf is an ideal sport for it.”

Monarch Beach Golf Links, Tijeras Creek and Marbella Country Club are some of the courses where the product has been available thus far. The product is best served chilled, so it’s been hosted on beverage carts and snack areas rather than in the pro shop.

The flavor is billed as Orange Peach, but it tastes more like a tangerine-flavored Gatorade.

The idea for a supplement solution for sun protection came to Awadalla after years of seeing people with preventable skin cancer pass through his office due to inconsistent, or lack of, use of sunscreen.

“It just boggled by mind that this was still happening,” he said. “I did some research of the use of topical medicine to treat skin conditions, include psoriasis. I found that people didn’t use it very consistently, even if they had skin disease.

“I thought, maybe we need to rethink this. What we do every day is drink and eat, regardless of what’s happening in our lives, and there’s a lot of evidence that shows vitamins, anti-inflammatories and phytonutrients protect us from the sun.

“After five years of formulation, I came up with scientifically based formula to provide skin protection, and that’s now UVO.”

In essence, Awadalla said, a sun burn is an inflammation, something the body’s immune system can fight. UVO’s special formula bolsters that ability.

In its first test among 15 people, Awadalla said UVO proved to increase sun protection, measured in the amount of UV radiation required to burn, by 40 percent 30 minutes after consumption. Then came a positive result Awadalla hadn’t expected.

“We discovered UVO worked retroactively to stop a burn from happening and worked to heal the burn, so it works proactively and retroactively,” he said.

That made UVO a much more versatile and beneficial product than Awadalla ever expected and give it a major differentiator for sunscreen.

“You can compare sunscreen and UVO this way: Sunscreen does one thing well; UVO does many things well,” he said. “It also stops DNA damage, collagen damage and protects and repairs cell membranes. It also stops free radicals.”

While the drink has many benefits, it also has limits. For instance, it can’t match the maximum protection of a sunscreen.

“UVO will probably never get to the level of a 50 SPF, but even an SPF 5 provides 80 percent UV blockage so having baseline protection makes a difference,” he said. “Overall most people who drink UVO should have a good experience and will receive different levels of protection from it. We encourage people to be conservative in the trial phase while finding out exactly how it works for them.

“We all have different skin types and we all absorb and utilize supplements differently, so there will be variation. That’s why we say 3-5 hours of protection on the bottle.”

You can find more information about UVO, including an FAQ, at drinkuvo.com.

SCGA: The Comeback At Callaway

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Without even taking a swing, Chip Brewer knew one of the first clubs to cross his desk as CEO of Callaway Golf was a miss.

Looking at the prototype, a 3-wood, Brewer shook his head. As the new President and CEO, just a few weeks into his tenure in the spring of 2012, he was unimpressed. Perhaps worse, as a golfer, he was bored.

The club, just by its look and feel, was … ordinary.

This is what Callaway had become, which was not what it had been and certainly not what Brewer envisioned it would be again.

His play? “Send it back.”

Unaccustomed to rejection, a stunned R &D team’s response could best be summed up as: “He said what?”

“You’ve got to do better,” Brewer commanded.

Ultimately, that rejection changed the trajectory of Callaway Golf and started what has it soaring today.

You can find the rest of this article at: editiondigital.net/publication/?i=276926&p=44

Ranch No. 1

The Ranch LB: 9 for 9 – Nine Films That Capture A Day At The Ranch At Laguna Beach

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Taking a bit of inspiration from ESPN’s popular 30 for 30 documentary series, we present 9 for 9 – nine short videos that capture the experience of playing the nine holes at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. As you’ll see there’s much to see, do and discover during your day at The Ranch – and after. Have we mentioned the course is a quarter mile from the ocean?

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The Mini & Me

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About two years ago, I put a club in my bag that was at first a curiosity and has now become a necessity. It’s the original SLDR Mini Driver from TaylorMade.

For those unfamiliar, the Mini is a 3-wood made for the tee, a driving 3-wood if you will. It has an oversized head and fairway-friendly lofts of 12, 14 and 16 degrees (I play the 14). At launch, the club was touted to have a greater accuracy off the tee at the sacrifice of a few from your driver – and that’s exactly what it does. Mine plays to about 260-280, which is about 20 yards less than my driver, and hits probably twice as many fairways.

After two years of playing this club, I’m still finding uses for it, as I was reminded this week when I played the quirky par 4 7th at Encinitas Ranch. Those who play it know the tee shot is blind and played to a funky landing area to set up your approach. You need about 220-250 yards to get a clear look at the enormous green, which is usually a hybrid or long iron play off the tee. Taking anything longer (3-wood or driver) involves a more accurate tee shot that normally just invites trouble (canyon on the left, hillside rough or OB on the right).

On Thursday, I pulled the Mini and striped it down the right side into Position A. That notches another hole where I’ll play this club off the tee forever.

I’m prompted to write this post by a series of experiences I’ve had with this club over the past month and a couple conversations that made me realize how few people are playing it, or have even heard of it, that probably should be.

My club is the original version. TaylorMade has since updated it in the Aeroburner line and Callaway has its own, which I’m told has some real pop. So the club has obviously caught on or they wouldn’t be making more, but strangely I’ve never encountered another on the course. I always feel like I’m holding demo day when I play and always get questions about it.

Every time I have success with the club, I recall the early skepticism from a local pro – “Just what everybody wants – a shorter driver.”

And that’s just it. Maybe they should. As long as they gain accuracy.

At my peak, I could hit my driver 310-320, and while I miss those extra yards on occasion, the Mini proves adequate more often than not used as my main driver. That said, I’m not trying to play the long par 4s at Torrey with it.

I ended up playing all five Oregon courses with the Mini because my regular driver, the Cobra Fly-Z is an inch over standard, which I discovered is an inch too long for my travel bag. D’oh!

I thought about finding it as a rental, but opted to play the Mini and my Rocketballz 3-wood, which is driver long, instead. Both proved plenty adequate, though playing at elevation didn’t hurt for picking up a few more yards off the tee.

Before I left, I played a warm-up nine at Maderas – and again found another ideal Mini hole. For the unfamiliar, the hole is a par 4 with a creek carry. People take everything from driver to long iron here. I pulled the Mini and hit the perfect tee shot. The fairway runs out at about 280-290. My ball was sitting perfectly at the end, my longest tee shot ever on the hole, and made for an easy opening par. I’ll never play the hole any other way now.

I mentioned my shot and club choice on Twitter and it prompted a curious reply and how I play it and why, calling it an “unusual” club choice. That made me mentally connect to a round I played in Washington the week of the U.S. Open. None of my playing partners had even heard of the club much less hit it.

That made me realize what a low profile this club has after two years on the market. I can’t recall ever seeing a commercial for it and I may have never heard of it if I didn’t cover the equipment industry.

Among other things, it’s a great club for beginners. I had a novice player hit it during a round in Laguna and find immediate comfort with it, so much so that she bought one the next week. Anymore, that’s an easy purchase. You can find one used for $50-$75, far less than your average driver.

My original post about the Mini mentioned the opening holes at Twin Oaks, a tight stretch, being a perfect shot scenario for the club. And, indeed, hitting the Mini is the only time I’ve ever hit every fairway and green in regulation over that stretch.

In Oregon, I was pin-high on a drivable 280-yard par 4 and got up and down for a birdie. Threes are rare with the Mini, but so are 5s and 6s. It keeps me playable more often than not.

I’ve often called the Mini my “safety driver,” meaning I default to it when I’m hitting my main driver poorly, as I was a year ago. But I think that sells the club short now. I continue to find strategic uses for it, as I did Thursday.

So before you buy your next driver in the search for more yards, you might consider a Mini and opt for more fairways. I have, and it has changed my game for the better.

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Maderas: Five Impressions Of The Playing Experience At Pronghorn Golf Club (Nicklaus Course)

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The most highly anticipated round of my five-day central Oregon golf trip in Sept. was getting to play Pronghorn Golf Club’s Nicklaus Course, ranked No. 33 in the Golf Digest Top 100.

In its course summary, Golf Digest praised the back nine as possibly “the most delightful Jack (Nicklaus) has ever designed.” ”Delightful” may hinge on the state of your game, but memorable is certainly in play. You won’t forget the signature hole on the side, the grand par 4 13th, nor likely the finishing tee shot.

The course conditions at Pronghorn and the facilities are first rate. Pronghorn’s location is indeed remote, but it’s a journey to a place unlike any I’ve been before. I simply don’t have a comparison for this course.

Which bring us to the first of my impressions about playing Pronghorn …

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Now For Something Totally Different … & Completely Unique – If you’ve never visited the Pacific Northwest’s high desert, this terrain will seem alien to you. In fact, only the tees, greens, fairways and mountains might be familiar.

Your image of golf in Oregon is likely fairways lined and defined by towering pine trees with shots occasionally played over meandering streams. That applied to two of the courses I played (Crosswater and Meadows, both at Sunriver). That’s not Pronghorn.

Built in a juniper forest, this desert scape is similar to the terrain of other courses in the area, but definitely notches above anything else I played in design and overall experience. The course is actually quite wide open, but looks can be deceiving here. Nicklaus is visually always throwing something at you (we’ll talk more about this in a second).

My round included a few interesting shot scenarios, but none more than finding my ball in a juniper bush short left of the green after my second shot on a par 4. I hit out of the juniper bush (my ball was 6 inches off the ground), into a juniper tree and, like Plinko on “The Price Is Right,” my ball trickled down and made a satisfying thud on the green. Knowing the green sloped toward the hole, I was hopeful. Yep. Three feet from the pin. I saved par for the up and down of the trip by far.

You need a little luck and a dose of local knowledge to play Pronghorn well if you have only once chance. But regardless of your card, the course is a joy to discover with unique designs greeting you on every hole.

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Golf XXXL – Golf at Pronghorn is done on a grand scale. Big greens. Big sandtraps. Big rock walls. Big knotty, twisted trees. Big vistas (all the way to the Cascades). And big fairways on many holes. And a huge collection area to one elevated par 3.

And this design grandeur even moreso applies to the Fazio side, which is the 18-hole private course. (I’ve linked a photo tour at the end of this.)

Visually there’s always something coming at you to dazzle you. It truly is a feast for the senses. There’s nothing predictable about the layout – and there’s a big surprise waiting for you on the back. And the cool part is you get to preview it from the front nine.

You pass by tee on No. 13 while playing the front and you can’t help but overhear the oohs, aahs and banter (“Can I just build a house here?”). Your curiosity beckons you to stop and take a peak. This is what you see …

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No. 13 – No. 13 is a short dogleg-right par 4 played to a green guarded by a pond on the right and a massive sand trap in the back. Truth be told, the sand trap is mostly scenery (you shouldn’t be in there) but it adds a visual access to the hole akin to how the beach complements the ocean. In fact, that’s what it looks like: Pronghorn Beach.

The tee shot, with tail wind, is played over the pond to a generous fairway with a fly-over pot bunker in the middle. The approach is the type of shot golfers live for.

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With likely a wedge in hand, you’re looking at a sizeable green in front of a massive rockwall with two waterfalls to the right filling a pond that should mostly be taken out of play with a decent drive. You’ve got ample room to make a safe landing in regulation and set up a shot at a cherished birdie or par. (One caveat: We had perfect weather; local rumor is that the wind can really blow here.)

This is hardly the toughest hole on the course but it’s one you’ll never forget. And you get a third glimpse of it on No. 18.

On the 18th tee box, you get an overview of the green and can see the creek that feeds the waterfalls. The entire hole is a magnificent shrine to the central Oregon golf experience – and you get a 360 appreciation of it. So cool.

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Speaking of cool …

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Ghost trees are cool – One high desert phenomenon that quickly captured my attention is the ghost desert.

“Aim at the ghost tree” was my first reference, given to me by a caddie. I deduced that the ghostly white deceased juniper tree in front of me was the intended target.

These trees are everywhere in central Oregon and used mostly effectively in the design of Pronghorn. (There’s even a Ghost Tree Drive in the development.)

They’re just one more geographic marker that will leave you with an indelible impression of Pronghorn.

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Risk And … Reward? – As I was warming up in the short-game area, a fellow golfer dropped a sack of balls and advised, “Hit plenty of these.”

He meant chips off thin lies. And I did as recommended, which came in handy. It ended up later setting up the only birdie putt I sank.

Looking back from the elevated green on that short par 4, we noticed two tee shots driven to within close range – a tough chipping distance. These are the plays and club choices that are tough to make in one round here. The course likes to tempt you … and you don’t know enough yet to resist.

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Similarly, on an elevated and crowned par 3, three of use took great runs at the flag … only to watch our approaches trickle off into a massive collection area, which did make for a quite fun uphill recovery putt.

Playing it for the first time, the course allows you to get your shots in, but know that it has ways of taking them back. Overall, it’s an experience that transports you to what is a very different place for most of us, but you’ll be glad you made the journey.

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For a photo tour of the Fazio course, go to socalgolfblog.com/2015/10/05/photo-post-touring-the-fazio-course-at-pronghorn-golf-club/

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Four Observations About The Playing Experience At Tetherow

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My five-day golf-athon in central Oregon began at Tetherow in Bend, which, unbeknownst to me in advance, was like being thrown in the deep end of the pool on your first swimming lesson.

I learned later that this notoriously tough Scottish links course was dubbed Death Row by locals after it opened in 2008 but has since been softened by eliminating some of the more troublesome fairway bunkers. But the challenge on the greens remains – and it’s a doozy. It was even more so for me coming from California and its slower summer green speeds. The slick greens at Tetherow felt like they were rolling like a 16 to me.

But, with the help of a caddie, I eventually settled in and began to embrace the challenges of the course while enjoying the mountain surrounds and uniqueness of the layout.

And that’s the real takeaway here. This is a gorgeous golf course that dazzles you and challenges you and calls on you to tap into your creativity to conjure up plays you’re likely not making elsewhere – putting from 50 feet off the green, for instance.

If you’re open to your short game being pushed to the limit, then you’ll enjoy playing here. My short game is my strength and it shined on the back nine, salvaging a scorecard that left me wondering if I’d score at all after a messy front nine.

The bogeys I’ll forget; the layout I’ll remember, especially the stunning 17th, a par 3 that might alone be reason enough to play here.
What follows are my first impressions and a few tips for playing Tetherow.

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Love Links Golf, Even When It Doesn’t Love You – If you haven’t played links golf much, or recently, Tetherow might be a jarring experience for you.

As I’ve said, the style of play takes some getting used to and will test you in the transition. I drove it in some gnarly rough with my opening tee shot and then, despite hitting it exactly where caddie told me, found my tee ball in grassy side-hill lie on the second, depriving me at least 50 yards in a fairway that was a mere two yards away. Those are the breaks of links golf.

And those breaks have broken some of the best.

“Players who are single digits come out here and shoot 90,” our caddie revealed.

To avoid that sort of scorecard whiplash, you’ve got to be smart around the greens and know what pins to attack and what pins only invite misery.

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On most courses, the tee shot is half the battle. It feels more like 25 percent here. Saddle up your short game and get ready for a wild ride.

A True Caddy Course – We were fortunate to have a caddie, and I can’t imagine playing this course for the first time without one.

Besides guiding your play, they help you appreciate the intricacies of the course and the myriad of shot options.

I had what looked to be a fairly straightforward chip on one of the first greens until the caddie started to consult. He proposed one alternate chip to back the ball into the hole and then, pointing behind me and to my right, said, “Or you can use the mound and hit it back here.” Or I could putt.

Personally, I love that variety, and how much fun would a scramble be here?

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Even with his assistance, however, there was no saving our group on No. 9, an uphill par 4 with a distinctive split pine tree in the fairway. My drive found the fairway, but my approach to a back pin bounded over the green. When I talk about leaving certain pins alone, this is what I mean. The play was leaving it out right or short, but not long.

The hole was cut just above the slope of the green. My pitch back ended up 50 yards down the fairway. I wasn’t alone. I took a six on what initially looked to be my first par of the round.

Fortunately, I bounced back with a birdie on the short par 4 10th to kick start a solid back nine.

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Bandon In Bend – I’ve yet to play Bandon Dunes, but from the photos and first-hand accounts, Tetherow had that feel to me. I asked our caddie about the comparison.

“We’re the closest thing to it in central Oregon,” he said. “We just don’t have the ocean.”

No, but they do have ponds, mountain views and a layout that delivers one unique hole after the next in a setting that seems older than it is. It’s so natural that it’s like the course has always been there.

The short par 4s, such as the 10th, in particular are a blast here and tempt you to grab driver when that’s not always the smart play. You’ve got a lot of options off the tee here on most holes. You can play to your strengths and stay playable and then take your chances on the greens.

You’ll have fun discovering this course, but don’t pick a favorite hole until you’ve played …

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No. 17 – There are some holes, like the cliff-side par 3 at Kapalua’s Bay Course, that you’ll always remember the first time you played them. This is one of them.

We’ve posted about this hole already, but it bares repeating. Set in the backdrop of an old quarry, this hole simply amazes at first sight.
With a snow-capped mountain perfectly framed in the distance, you glimpse a gorgeous green with a wealth of sand and scrub between you and the hole. But you’re not thinking about the desert. You’re looking to conjure your swing of the day – even if takes two. If you’re only playing this hole once, you don’t want to walk up to anything less than a putt.

I pushed my first attempt into the canyon wall and watched it trickle into the sand. I flushed my second and found it sitting beautifully on the back fringe. A mulligan par sent me to 18 with a smile and little care about the next outcome. No. 17 made my round.

Here’s guessing it’ll make yours too.

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For more information on golf and tourism in the Bend/Redmond area, go to www.visitcentraloregon.com.

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Friday Photo Post: Paddleboarder At Sunset

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Posting this not just for the beauty of the sunset but also the paddleboarder in the foreground. I’ve had them pass through before, but never had one stay in the frame so long. This will always be known as the Paddleboarder Sunset to me. He truly stars in the sunset video at the end. He took a great sunset and made it something even more unique.

Thank you, Mr. Anonymous Paddleboarder.

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X-Golf X-Plained: A Q & A With X-Golf Founder Chris Mayson

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With the advent of swing-analysis technology and video, the teaching of golf has changed greatly in the last decade, but practice, at least for amateurs, largely has not. For many, it still consists largely of solitary swings on the range with indefinite results and a random regimen.

This is the learning experience Chris Mayson is looking to change with X- Golf. X-Golf incorporates teaching and practice in a group setting in hour-long sessions with a single-skill focus and a competition at the end to increase intensity and engagement.

Mayson conducted a successful pilot of the program two years ago at Maderas Golf Club, but he held off on the launch until an optimal web site – x-golf.net – and compatible app. could be developed since X-Golf is a technology-driven and tracked experience.

“We wanted to make it as good an experience as possible when we launched and the app. really (improved the program),” Mayson says.

X-Golf will debut at Maderas on Oct. 19th. Mayson will conduct four classes daily during the week and a two a day on the weekend. Class attendance is unlimited and costs $150 a month.

Mayson is the Director of Instruction at the Maderas Golf Academy and coaches players on the PGA and LPGA tours. X-Golf is a concept gleaned from his nine years of instruction and wanting to see more players experience meaningful and successful practice.

He shares more about the X-Golf experience in the following Q & A.

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What was it in your instructing experience that led to this concept?

I wanted to get people more engaged and involved in their practice. Too often a lot of people get bored with their practice and don’t know what to work on or how to get better.

(As an instructor), even when I’d give people really detailed practice advice after a lesson, I’d still rely on them going away and doing what I asked them to do, sometimes for weeks or months at time. Some would do (what I instructed), but many wouldn’t.

I wanted to create something with simple skills to learn that culminated in a competition at the end to keep people engaged.

And what’s the benefit of buying sessions vs. individual lessons?

This way, the player can see the instructor as much as they want – they can come every day – and really work on improving and making sure they’re on the right track every day.

How did you structure the pilot, and what made it successful?

We did mornings and evenings in groups of eight to 10, with different ages and levels of ability. Everyone loved it.

They got a very structured, detailed practice for an hour but there was also a social element to it. It makes it more fun when you can meet people and develop friendships. And that’s the culture we want to develop – and that culture helps keep people engaged and focused.
We did for two weeks, covering putting, short game and the swing, and ended each with a competition.

The feedback was very encouraging. I sent out a survey and everyone loved it so much that I knew I was on to something.

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What do you like about the app., and what role does it play?

It’s really clean and simple. You book your classes on there, view your instruction videos and it shows your personal records. All your results get graphed so it tracks your progress and there’s a leaderboard to show how you did against your peers.

And some of the instruction videos are quite creative. Here’s one with the “Happy Gilmore” swing.

X-Golf will have you doing the Happy Gilmore to improve your power, sequencing and swing speed. For more out of the box, fun practice like this, join X-Golf.

We’ll also do a little training Big Break style. I will have a flop shot wall, six-foot circles, goal posts, SKLZ training aids, etc.


What level of golfer are you targeting?

It’s good for anybody from beginners to Tour players, but I think it’s really going to be perfect for people who play golf and love golf but don’t have time to play a lot or practice much – and maybe they don’t have a lot of money for instruction.

This provides them focused practice in a short amount of time – and it’s fun and affordable.

What benefits as an instructor have you seen from focused practice?

I think in a typical practice someone grabs a driver or 7-iron and starts hitting balls without any real rationale, so it lacks engagement.

With X-Golf, there’s a single skill every day – whether it’s bunker shots, flop shots or short putts – and you get the entire hour to work on that discipline. So by the end of the hour, you’ve had a focused, engaged practice and the competition simulates the competitive aspect of the golf course and gives you that intensity you need.

What’s the ideal class size?

Between eight and 16.

How long to does it to take to complete the full course in X Golf?

Every day is an hour, but it’s randomized practice. You might repeat a practice, but that could be three months out. There’s not really an end to the program because there’s always something to learn or work on.

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How are fundamentals addressed in the program, like grip, aim and set up? What if I have a fundamental flaw hampering my progress?

We’re going to discover those things organically. If someone can’t hit a draw, then the coach will look at why they can’t and correct what’s limiting them. That’s where the individualization comes in.

I think you actually see that a lot in professional golf these days. Jordan Spieth doesn’t have a textbook golf swing, but it’s very effective. Phil Mickelson is another one. There are a lot of different golf swings out there, but they all know how to play the game and compete.

That’s what matters.

Classes will be mixed?

In the beginning, yes, but I can see cultures developing that give the classes identity. For instance, I can see hosting a young executives group in the morning. And maybe juniors in the afternoon. We’re going to do four sessions a day during the week and two a day on the weekend, so I think those things will just develop.

What’s the overall intent of X Golf?

Fun. Social. Focused. Quick. Competitive. That’s X Golf.

You can register for classes and download the app at www.x-golf.net. Media inquiries can be sent to socalgolfblog@yahoo.com. Questions for Chris Mayson can be sent to chrismayson@hotmail.com.

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Photo post: Touring The Fazio Course At Pronghorn Golf Club

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You’ll be reading more about Pronghorn later this week on the site but thought I’d start with this. This is a photo tour of the Fazio Course, the country club (private) side of Pronghorn. I didn’t get to play it, but touring it was a treat unto itself. Everything at Pronghorn is done on a grand scale, and the Fazio Course is certainly no exception. The photo above is of the signature par 3, the 13th, built above a giant lava tube. You’ll find better photos of it than mine online, but you get the idea. The use of the natural landscape at Pronghorn is masterful, and if you truly appreciate course design, this is the candy store of course design quirks and twists – water flowing over cart paths, an awesome stone footbridge, split greens (yes, played to two different greens) on the par 3 17th, etc.

Here’s some of what you find on the Fazio side of the golf played through a Juniper forest.

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Fazio 1

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fazio ghost tree

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Southland: Warner Springs Ranch Overview

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The digital draft on the Southland Golf site is available here: www.southlandgolf.com/articles/let-225-cousin-time.html

If you’ve ever seen a golf course that’s been let go, you know it’s not a pretty sight.

Well-maintained grass and greens revert to a pasture/prairie state quickly as the course becomes an unkempt cousin of its former self.

Re-taming what the wild has taken back takes time. How much time?

“In the golf business, for about every year you let a course go, it takes you three years to get it back,” said Byron Casper, Corporate Golf Director and Golf Professional recently re-opened Warner Springs Ranch Golf Club. “This course was let go for the better part of almost three years. I think we’re ahead of the game by getting it in this condition this early.”

Using Casper’s calculation, that’d be nine years of regression for Warner Springs, which closed in 2012 amid bankruptcy proceedings for the course and adjoining resort and hot springs. Pacific Hospitality Group, led by Chairman, William H. McWethy, Jr. and President Fred Grand, claimed the property and hired Casper to oversee the course renovation.

The course is now open three days a week while under renovation and is being targeted for a grand opening around November.

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While the course remains rough around the edges, Casper said the progress made in 18 months, especially amid the state’s prevailing drought, is rather remarkable.

“This course was let go for the better part of almost three years. I think we’re ahead of the game by getting it in this condition this early,” Casper said.

During a September visit, several cart paths remained to be laid and the course had more than its share of bare spots, but the sizeable greens were rounding into shape and most of the par 3s played as fairly finished golf holes.
Casper said the detail work that would catch up the rest of the course was just ahead.

“If it’s 80 percent ready (right now), that remaining 20 percent is the most important part,” he said. “That 20 percent is the aesthetic beauty that people want. That’s what everybody sees. It’s the part that makes a course look like a proper golf course. And we’re at that level of detail right now.”

“When I open this course for the grand opening, I don’t expect a weed to be out of place or a pond to be unfilled, etc. All of that will be taken care of.”

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That would complete a most remarkable transformation of a course that Casper said was in a dilapidated state when he first toured it, presenting him a challenge unprecedented in his career.

“I’ve opened golf courses from scratch, but I’ve never taken one over. This was a huge challenge, and that appealed to me,” he said. “But I liked the ownership group and wanted to take this on.”

Amidst the neglect, the thing that gave Casper hope were the course’s many stands of old-growth trees, which were still healthy and had given the course its character since it opened in 1984.

“The infrastructure was absolutely perfect. I thought we could have a pristine, desert-type course that looked like we just naturally dropped it in. That’s what this looks like.”

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Casper and the ownership team have taken a classic parkland-style layout and added bunkers and, on the par-4 8th, even a pond on the right side that stretches from the fairway and to near the green. Casper says that’s now one of his favorite holes.

“I love No. 8 since we added the lake,” he said. “It’s a great risk-reward hole. If you rip it, you’re looking at having a wedge in your hand into a green that’s front to back. But if you fade your drive, you’re in the lake. In a tournament scenario, you’re probably taking a 3-wood, hybrid or long iron there. It becomes a placement hole.”

While it puts some teeth into the hole, Casper said the intent remains within the guidelines of those handed down to him by his famous father and mentor, Tour Hall of Famer Billy Casper.

“He always said that you don’t make a course for Tour players. You make it for the average golfer. That’s a 17-handicap.”

The course is open three days a week during its renovation partly so Casper can capture the play and opinions of those players whom he sees as vital to returning the course to its place as a recreational and social hub for the community.

“I wanted something people could respond to, and I’m getting some great comments and feedback,” he said. “But when you’re letting people play a course at this stage, you’ve got to be in constant communication about the things you’re still working on.”

Casper’s father passed shortly after he took on the project, but he gave his blessing to his son’s involvement and commended him for continuing the family legacy of maintaining and preserving the game.

Like most teenagers, Byron Casper and his father didn’t always see eye to eye; however, as the two grew older, they found a mutual appreciation for each other and worked closely for several years before his father passed. Casper said striking out on his own and working overseas, including a stint as the head pro at St. Andrews, earned his father’s respect.

“It changed the dynamic,” Casper said. “The last seven years, he became so much more than a father to me – a coach, a friend, religious advisor, etc. – as well as my dad.”

In that regard, Casper said Warner Springs has unintentionally turned into a legacy project, which only bolsters his dedication to the outcome.

The course – and actually any golf course – is a constant reminder of his father’s memory and influence, one that is unavoidable for Casper.

In some ways, Casper said that’s forced him to face and quickly reconcile his feelings for his father.

“My dad thought I was good enough for the Tour and good enough to teach. He sent all his friends to me,” said Casper, who intends to make Warner Springs a destination for coaching and teaching.

“At the end, you either feel like you had enough time or you didn’t. I felt I had enough. I would’ve loved more, but I felt like we had enough.”

“I don’t have any regrets. When my father died, I knew he was proud of me and he knew how much I loved him. And he knew I’d do the job he’d wanted it terms of the family legacy.”

Warner Springs Ranch Golf Club By The Numbers

3 – Number of years the course was closed

8 – The hole undergoing the biggest change. A lake has been added.

2012 – Year the course closed

2014 – Year Pacific Hospitality Group claimed the course and resort out of bankruptcy

18 – Months of renovation put into the course since then

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