Monthly Archives: July 2017

Final Southland

19th Media: RIP Southland Golf – And What It Means For Your Golf Course

Final Southland

Southland Golf published its final issue in July. The outcome is one I’d anticipated for years and unsurprising given the decline of print media but sad nonetheless.

Southland gave me my start five years ago and I owe much of my success today and the direction of my career to those beginnings. My first Southland assignments helped further familiarize me with Southern California golf and also helped me identify the opportunity that existed in social media marketing for golf courses that is now the basis for my business today.

Additionally, I have many connections and clients that were formed from those assignments that have been invaluable in the growth and development of my career. For that especially I will always be grateful to Southland and Editor Al Petersen, who became a great colleague and friend during my days writing for the magazine. I’ll always remember Al for being relentlessly reliable to answer his phone and always taking the time for any story idea or inquiry and being eager to share in kind. Al and I discovered quickly in a our first phone call that we grew up close to each other in the Midwest and we got along swimmingly ever after.

The eulogy, however, stops here and turns to the narrative I’ve been preaching to courses for years. If this isn’t a wake-up call that it’s time to start telling your own story, I don’t know what is. Similar resources are only going to become fewer going forward as publishing continues to find success elusive in a digital environment. The majority of these publications are eventually going the way hickory clubs.

Social media is your new titanium. While the print world declines, the social media world only creates more and more tools to help you tell your story if you choose to seize the opportunity. With Facebook recently topping 2 BILLION users and Instagram on pace to hit a billion users in 2018, it’s time to face facts about where eyeballs are at these days. They’re on the Internet and particularly in their phone – and their coming directly to you. How good are you at telling your story in the digital age?

In the early days of writing for Southland, I gained interviews and appointments easily as course officials relished a visit from the “story fairy.” I appreciated the time and access as I often conducted two interviews: the first was for the story; the second was about the state of their marketing, particularly social media. Those insights proved invaluable.

Many of the first posts you read here were companion pieces to my Southland articles. They were written in part to help courses see the opportunity in creating their own content and narrative. Guess what? I worked. And it still does.

The mentality of the magazine, especially a lifestyle magazine, is the mindset required for successful social media. You have to become introspective and take yourself on as your own beat and be your course’s biggest fan. If you’re not the one MOST excited one about your course, how many can you expect anyone else to be? Lead and content creative with passion and your golfers WILL follow.

Take your club on as your own “beat,” in magazine parlance. Scour the course, the kitchen, the golf shop and your wedding, events, tournaments, members and visitors for stories and insights into your club. That’s the “magazine” every course should be seeking to create to gain readers/followers.

Golf courses will long outlast modern publishing. How successful they will be, however, depends on how well they connect to their audience in the way magazines/newspapers, etc. once did. Are you ready for your social media to read like hot-off-the-press and go to work for you? Let 19th Hole Media help you discover you inner Southland Golf and thrive.

claret

2017 British Open Preview

claret

As the pros travel overseas to Royal Birkdale for the year’s third major, the name of the championship seems particularly fitting – The Open.

In a year lacking a dominate player, parity has become the norm on a wide-open Tour. That’s best illustrated by the majors, where we’ve now seen eight straight first-time major champions after Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open.

Will a former champion step forward to claim the Claret Jug or will first-timers continue to break through? And if so, who? Rickie Fowler? John Rahm? Tommy Fleetwood? Hideki Matsuyama?

Last year, it was Henrik Stenson’s turn after an epic duel with Phil Mickelson, who opened the tournament with a 63 and lost to Stenson’s 63 on Sunday. Conditions don’t seem so conducive for scoring this year. Blustery weather is in the forecast.

Who will weather the weather and the unique tests of links golf? We’ll start to find out on Thurs. Here’s a look at the top storylines going into the week.

Major Parity – Rookies rule right now when it comes to major championships. But rather than celebrate the depth of the Tour, the media has instead clamored for someone to seize the season.

A year ago, Dustin Johnson began a run of dominance after a win at the U.S. Open that led to him being named Player of the Year. If you had to vote right now, who’d it be? Rookie John Rahm? He’s one of the few to have multiple victories and consistent strong showings on Tour. Otherwise, many of the Tour’s best have either been hampered by injuries or inconsistency.

Stenson is among those having a ho-hum season. If he can get his game together, he has a chance to be the first repeat Open champion since Padraig Harrington in 2008-09.

But eyes will also be on last year’s runner-up because of …

bonesphil

www.cbssports.com

Phil’s Major Change – Mickelson stunned the golf world after the U.S. Open (he didn’t play because of his daughter’s graduation) when he announced the end of his relationship with long-time caddy Jim “Bones” MacKay, who was on the bag when Phil won his last major at the British in 2013.

This time, Mickelson’s brother Tim will be on the bag and MacKay will be in the booth working for the Golf Channel. Having listened to MacKay on a few Callaway Golf podcasts, I for one am excited to hear his unique take on the game and insights from 25 years of touring with Mickelson. (What’s the over/under on Phil stories told during the tournament?)

Will the change help Mickelson rediscover his winning ways? He hasn’t won any Tour event since that victory in 2013, even though he’s played some of the most consistent golf of his career.

After skipping the U.S. Open, will Mickelson be rested or rusty? He’s professed a new-found love of links golf. Will it love him back again this week?

Can Rickie Shake His Case Of The Sundays? – Fowler was in contention on Sunday at the Masters and the U.S. Open – and never made a charge. Similarly, he failed to make a move Sunday at the Scottish Open.

A few analysts criticized Fowler for overly conservative play on Sunday at the U.S. Open. Will he find the formula to finally contend and close at Royal Birkdale?

At just age 28, Fowler finds himself carrying the mantle of best player to have never won a major. Will he change that at the Open or carry the title onto the PGA Championship and maybe into 2018? Sunday will be the key if Fowler contends again. Will he muster the effort to finally conquer a major?

courseart

www.royalbirkdale.com

When It’s Breezy … – It hardly seems like an Open without a spot of weather. This year, the forecast is dry but high winds are predicted.

Will that forecast favor the Europeans, who are used to these conditions, or possible a Texan (Jordan Spieth?) also accustomed to playing in the wind?

Given the usual penchant for parity that comes with the bounces and breaks of links golf, a windy forecast makes a wildcard winner seem an even more likely outcome.

Where’s The Beef? – Heavily bearded Brit Andrew “Beef” Johnston became a cult hero during last year’s Open and a running subplot amidst the Mickelson/Stenson duel.

Playing on home soil, Johnston seems likely to have a sizeable and vocal gallery this week. That actually seems the only safe prediction coming into a week where the Tour and trophy are there for the taking if someone can rise to the occasion like Stenson did a year ago. As always, it’ll be great fun to watch it all start to unfold across the pond on Thurs.

St. Mark clubhouse

Four Observations About The Playing Experience At St. Mark Golf Club

St. Mark clubhouse

I started playing St. Mark Golf Club in San Marcos about five years ago when I was a student at the Golf Academy of America. To be honest, though being close by, it wasn’t one of my preferred tracks, largely due to spotty course conditions after years of neglect, including hard greens that often wouldn’t hold approach shots.

I recently returned to St. Mark for the first time in more than two years and am happy to report a greatly improved experience after a major investment in the main course and clubhouse as well an impressive renovation, and really re-invention, of the executive course.

The playing conditions on the main course, including an aesthetic upgrade to the tee boxes, were on par with some of the best in the county and made for a most enjoyable experience re-discovering St. Mark. Kudos to the new management for their vision and execution and for breathing new life into the place. For those who’ve never been, here’s an overview of the playing experience at St. Mark.

No. 1

1. A short course – or is it? – At 6,398 yards from the back tees, I don’t think of St. Mark as a long course – by comparison, that’s the yardage at Maderas Golf Club, one of the long courses in SD, from the white tees. Yet St. Mark has one of the longest holes in the county – the 606-yard par 5 12th – and two long par 4s – the 447-yard 4th and 460-yard 10th – that seem to play longer. A lot of holes here are practically dead straight so they play to their full distance.

You definitely need to hit driver well to score here, but the course is wide open enough that accuracy isn’t an absolute must. In the review world, we call this a course that will test your entire bag, which frankly you don’t see coming from the opening holes. This is where St. Mark throws you enough surprises to keep you on your toes.

2. My Nemesis – Excuse the personal aside here, but I’d be less than forthcoming if I didn’t disclose my struggles with the par 4 4th – and I know I’m not alone. This hole is a 447-yard downhill slight dogleg left that often plays into a Pacific Ocean breeze. This is the classic draw hole where my draw won’t draw and I end up with some sort of crazy recovery behind a tree, from an awkward lie, etc.

And when I do hit the fairway, I always seem to have more golf hole left than I should. Forget birdie or par. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve hit the green in regulation here. If I had, that’d be a victory. I certainly didn’t during my last round, where I revisited my classic struggle and scuffled to a six, the first real blemish on my card.

If you get through 4 and 5 – another downhill par 4 – mostly unscathed you’ve got a real chance to get through the front in good shape. The scoring opportunities are there if you avoid the bogey potholes.

14 tee St. Mark

No. 14

3. 12, 13, 14 – These holes are the heart of the playing experience at St. Mark and frankly a stretch you never see coming given the previous 11 holes. The aforementioned 606-yard par 5 12th, a gradual dogleg left with a tricky green, starts this stretch and I’ve seen the mere sight of a “6” on the yardage sign cause people to come undone on the tee. It has psyched more than a few golfers into a snowman. Duff a drive here and you’ll be playing catch up the whole way – and likely never will.

Then a relatively flat course makes a surprise elevation change to an elevated par 3 with a partially blind approach before the course comes to the figurative and literal apex of your round – the elevated 369-yard par-4 14th. With a pond sitting out there dead ahead at around 260 yards, this hole is the ultimate risk and reward. You’re either going for it or you’re not.

In another state and another climate, this hole make a fine ski slope, but it’ll play like a black diamond to you if you can’t make the carry. If you can, you could almost putt your way to par.

There are a lot of great elevated par 4s in San Diego but I can’t imagine a more unexpected one than 14 at St. Mark because it so deviates from the rest of the course. But in that way, it also makes it a tee shot you anticipate and a thrill if you crush it. There’s something to be said for that. Overall, brute distance and a little local knowledge goes a long way in this stretch.

No. 13

No. 13

4. Nemesis Two – If you get through 12/13/14 in good shape, you’ve got a serious chance to post a number on the back. After that stretch, the course reverts back to more of what you expect.

If you don’t trip on the par 3 17th, which is 210 yards but provides room to miss and recover, you come to No. 18, which is another hole where I have a troubled history.

I’ve had a few good scorecards turn bad here trying to do too much here. This par 5 plays to 480 yards, which is a tempting enough number to get you dreaming about a big finish – which can be a big mistake.

The tee shot is straight and sets you up for approach that teases you go for it, despite that gigantic bunker on the left, which is really the only trouble on the hole. The other trouble is all in your head, which again is trying to do too much.

The oddest outcome I ever had here was ripping a 3-wood right at the green – and never finding the ball. (I think we mentioned earlier that the greens previously didn’t always hold shots.)

The smarter play is to try to set yourself up with ideal wedge distance for your third – but where’s the fun in that, right?

And there’s the real trick to mastering St. Mark – knowing when to go for it and knowing when to humbly bag the hero shot and play for par or bogey.

The course is at a length that tempts you, but it has a way of taking strokes back that leaves you sometimes feeling you left a better score out there. Thankfully now that you won’t be feeling like the course conditions cheated you and you’ll admire and appreciate the hard work that has gone into recovering and re-creating a great playing and social experience.

tee marker