Author Archives: coreyrossgolf

May Southland

Southland: Drought-Busting Winter Rains A Boon For SoCal Golf

May Southland

You can find the digital version of the story at Southland’s site here.

The winter rains may have been a wet blanket for tee sheets to start 2017 in Southern California, but the weather windfall since is the end of the drought and summer-quality course conditions months early.

The lush landscapes golfers are enjoying are helping courses recover from the drought, and the wet winter, in more ways than just through increased rounds.

Torrey Pines Golf Operations Director Mark Marney said the course scored a fiscal birdie in Feb. via a water savings of $75,000.

“It’s definitely going to help us from a budget standpoint,” Marney said. “But overall the rains have been really beneficial. The course is looking much crisper than it normally would at this time of year.”

Other course general managers across Southern California are echoing similar sentiments, saying spring course conditions are the best they’ve seen in years if not unprecedented.

Arroyo 18

Arroyo Trabuco

At Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo not only the course but the surrounding hillsides are so green one could almost confuse Orange County with Ireland. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club Director of Golf Geoff Cram said the verdant coincidence is uncommon but very welcome.

“It never got cool this winter so our turf never really went dormant,” Cram said. “And then you had fresh water on top of it, so it’s incredibly green. Usually our turf ramps up slowly, but here it is the middle of March and it looks like the end of May.”

Colin Radchenko, General Manager at Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, is witnessing similar surrounds at his course and is amazed by what he sees at courses throughout the county.

“It’s amazing what the water has done not just for us but for every golf course throughout San Diego,” he said. “It’s incredible, and our golfers are loving it.”

Radchenko reports strong play this spring after a winter that was solid as well despite the heavy rain events.

But the best news of all, of course, is that what’s largely regarded as the wettest winter in Southern California since 1983-84 busted the drought. Mike Huck, a water management in San Juan Capistrano who monitors usage by the state’s course, said he never expected a seven-year deficit to be caught up in one wet winter wallop, but it’s blessing that it did, especially for golf courses.

It’s assumed the state will lift some water restrictions of previous years, and if so, courses are indeed looking at a big boost to their budget for one of their largest expenses, Huck said. Various common sense restrictions will remain in place and become permanent such as bans on hosing off sidewalks, washing cars without a positive shutoff hose nozzle and irrigating narrow street medians with pop-up sprinklers.

“There’s probably a 10 percent savings or so that they can look forward to,” he said. “Courses may be able to prolong their savings when they begin heavily irrigating this spring due to the deeply wetted soils.”

There could be an additional savings through continued smart management practices that were born of the drought. While the drought was a painful maintenance circumstance, Huck said Southern California superintendents might now be better resource managers because of it.

“They learned they can live on a little less water than they had in the past and still have acceptable course conditions,” he said. “It forced them into using less, but it might not be a bad thing that it changed their approach a little bit.”

Some practices born of the drought, such as painting fairways and driving ranges, Huck expects to now be common practice regardless of future rains.

“I don’t think you’ll see people over seeding like you did in the past,” he said, “and that’s definitely a good thing.

“During the drought, they made great use of paints and dyes that helped them save on water. And it gives the course just enough color to keep it looking good. There’s no reason that shouldn’t continue.”

The upsides to the end of the drought are obvious for courses, but for some it came at a price. The sometimes severe storms of 2017 took down trees at some courses and caused other on-course damage through localized events, such as flooding.

16 TP North

Torrey North

Marney said course officials at Torrey in particular were holding their breath during storms after a re-designed North Course was still taking hold. It re-opened in Nov. and hosted the Farmers Insurance Open in Jan. Marney said Torrey’s courses mostly weathered the storms, but on occasion grounds crews were sent racing.

“We had some drains on the North that still need to be touched up and fixed, but it was a good test, and it passed,” he said.

Marney in particular noted the bunker maintenance disparity between the North and South Courses in preparation for the Farmers during the rains.

“It would take us two or three days to get the bunkers on the South back in play and on the North, we had no issues at all,” he said. “So in that respect, re-doing the North course really paid off in terms of reduction of time it took to get the course playable again.”

While Torrey was working feverishly last summer to get the project completed, it was also battling an infestation of bark beetles that were threatening its precious Torrey Pines. The lack of rains had sapped of the trees of their natural defense – sap – and the beetles were at one point killing four or five trees a month before Torrey’s maintenance crew introduced better methods to help the trees cope.

The beetles are always around, but Marney said the drought gave them the edge they needed to do great damage.

“You’d see a few trees in severe decline and then they’d quickly move onto another tree,” he said. “It was just moving much faster than it had in the past.”

Thanks to maintenance assist and the return of the rains, however, Marney said the remaining Torreys are recovering and the beetles are at bay for now.

“We’ve learned more and we’re in a different climate condition,” he said. “Both things are helping us out on this one.”

Huck said a handful of other courses faced beetles issues but for most the common fight is the toll years of continuous drought have taken on their trees, many of which Huck says won’t recover.

“Even with the rains, some of them are so far gone that they probably won’t come back,” he said. “It just depends how far into the cycle of death they are at this point.

“When you go through a dry spell like that, it puts real pressure on the trees.”

California’s groundwater reserves have been similarly stressed, which Huck said will be a decade-long recovery process because gains accrue so slowly. But he notes that, for some courses, the droughts did bring previously dry wells back into use.

One of other maintenance practices several courses in SoCal turned to during the drought was turf reduction. They removed turf to make the course more sustainable and replaced the turf with drought-tolerant plants.

vineyard course

Steele Canyon

Steele Canyon was one course that made a unique use of the reduced area by planting grapevines and establishing vineyards. This spring marks year two of the project and Radchenko is pleased to report buds forming on the still nearly virgin vines.

“It hasn’t really been warm yet, but when it heats up, we expect them to really take off,” he said. “But the water started things popping in the spring and definitely gave them a boost.”

The vines won’t produce a wine-grade grape until next year, but they did produce sporadic fruit a year ago that Radchenko hopes will be followed by lots of rain-fueled bunches and clusters this year.

“We won’t have our first real harvest until 2018, but it’s still great to see,” he said.

The drought ending is a happy ending for courses and hopefully the dawn of a new fruitful year after being hampered by a lack of water, and high water costs, for much of the decade.

The return of business as usual is certainly welcome by staffs at all California courses and Radchenko said golfers are celebrating it as well.

“Our rounds up and people are excited to get out and play,” he said. “But mostly it’s just nice to look at all the surrounding areas and see everything green after years of brown, brown, brown.”

Torrey

Southland: New-Found Status For The New North At Torrey

Torrey

You can find the digital link to this story in the print issue here – it’s at the bottom.

The North Course at Torrey Pines has long lived in the shadow of the more prestigious South Course, but fresh off its renovation the new North is finally enjoying a bit of its own celebrity status.

Torrey Pines Golf Operations Director Mark Marney said requests to play the North have risen dramatically.

“The demand for the North Course is off the charts right now,” he said.

Rounds have not risen in kind partly because the course is still rationing them on the North while the course grows in and a bit of remaining maintenance from the renovation is completed.

When it re-opened in November, the course only hosted play for four hours a day. That was later bumped to eight hours, but twilight rounds were withheld. The course will finally be open for play all day in the middle of May, Marney said, after Torrey completes its spring maintenance.

Restricting play has been done to protect the course, Marney said: “We’re trying not to love it to death.”
But Marney said the renovations and updates made by course architect Tom Weiskopf have been received positives reviews from locals and visitors alike.

“Players at all level have been pretty happy with their now being five sets of tee options so there’s a little better variety there for folks,” he said. “The greens are also 20 percent bigger on average, and are there are still approach where you can run the ball up to the green. All in all, it’s worked out pretty well.”

And the difficulty of the course didn’t increase, which was a primary concern of residents. The South Course, host to the U.S. Open and the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, remains by far the tougher test and a destination course for tourists.

However, after the renovation, it’s now the North’s time to shine and Marney said he hopes see an increase in the appeal of playing 36 at Torrey.

Historically, Marney said there’s been about a 20 percent disparity favoring the South for non-resident rounds.

“We’d like to get more people playing both courses,” he said, “and right now, the interest in the North is certainly there.”

right 2

Photo Post: America’s Most Scenic Ballpark – Point Loma Nazarene

right 2

By pure happenstance, on Thursday I discovered America’s Most Scenic Ballpark, which resides at Point Loma Nazarene University in Point Loma. See and judge for yourself.

most scenic

Strangely, I didn’t even notice the sign at first. I must’ve been distracted by something – something blue, maybe? Just maybe?

home plate

Anybody else ready to catch a game here?

I swear there was a sailboat playing deep left.

point

… home of the Sea Lions!

field view

Field view, blissfully above sea level.

deep right

And deep right ain’t bad either.

And we close with a video view of the Most Scenic Ballpark. Anyone disagree? Go Sea Lions!

managed solution

Charity Golf Opportunity: Support Managed Solution On April 21st At Arrowood

managed solution

Please join me at Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside on April 21st for the Third Annual Managed Solution Charity Golf Tournament to support the American Cancer Society. There’s as 12:30 p.m. shotgun start and a helicopter ball drop after that provides you a chance to win up to $2,500 without having to attend! You can purchase $10 tickets here in advance!

For $150 per player, golfers receive 18 holes of golf (including cart), lunch, raffles, exciting awards and a cocktail reception, including dinner. They can also participate in a silent auction.

Follow the link to learn more about the tournament and to register. I hope to see you on the 21st!

awood

Photo: www.visitoceanside.com

masters-4k[1]

2017 Masters Preview

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Photo: www.techagesite.com

The golf world entered last year’s Masters buzzing about the looming rise of a youthful Big Four. A year later, there’s mostly only talk of an emerging Big One – and it isn’t that guy.

DJ, not TW, is turning into the Tour Goliath that his tremendous talent suggested possible but hadn’t been realized. His breakthrough win at the 2016 U.S. Open appears to have changed all that.

After being named Player of the Year in 2016, DJ has only built on that momentum by rising to world No. 1 and flattening the field on the way to three straight victories coming into Augusta.

Will DJ continue his Tour dominance with a win at Augusta National, a place where he doesn’t have a great track record? Or will players with a better history and feel for the place (Spieth, Mickelson, etc.) stem the tide and deny him the green jacket?

The question: Can DJ’s greatly improved short game and putting stand up to the staunch test at Augusta?

We ponder that and four other storylines coming into what many regard as the best week in golf. Here’s a look at our top five.

Will DJ continue to dominate? – His nearly unrivaled length has always made him a fearsome force on the Tour, but it’s his newfound touch on and around the greens that has changed his game and has him lifting more trophies.

DJ finished a very quiet T-4 last year, which is best finish at Augusta and followed a T-6 in 2016. If he’s stealthily been stalking the jacket, then the new DJ might be ready.

The Golf Channel shared a story about all the work Johnson has put in honing his game inside the scoring zone (125 yards and in) in the past year, and his second major and a fourth straight victory will likely be riding on it. But most critical, will his recently steady putting touch stand up to the test of the slick Augusta greens?

Will Jordan rebound? – We would likely be talking about a two-time defending champion going for a third straight green jacket had Jordan Spieth not gotten two consecutive tee shots wet on the par-3 12th a year ago. That turned what looked to be a runaway into an open door for underdog Danny Willett to sneak in and claim the championship.

Spieth claims not to be haunted by No. 12, having returned to Augusta last Dec. and played the hole without issue. Still, you can be sure the replays of his meltdown will roll when Jordan steps to the 12 tee on Thursday.

Spieth seemed to burn out a bit a year ago after playing a hectic schedule. He’s dialed that back this year and seems to have rediscovered much of the form that had him chasing the Grand Slam two years ago.

We know Spieth can putt the notorious greens of Augusta, but will his ball striking hold up under what are expected to be challenging conditions on Thurs. and Fri.? But if Spieth gets into the weekend around the lead, it’ll be hard not like his chances. With a T2, 1, T2 history at Augusta, would you bet against him?

He’ll certainly be seeking redemption on No. 12 and savoring another chance to win back the green jacket.

Is Rory ready to go Grand? – The Masters is the only gap in Rory’s major resume. Is this the year he completes the career Grand Slam? He seems to have found his form again after being briefly sidelined with a rib injury.

As one of the few on Tour who can challenge DJ off the tee, that’d be a power pairing if it happened on the weekend. Is Rory ready to end his major drought? It’d certainly put some juice into the Augusta gallery if he’s contending going into Sunday.

Can Lefty be right one more time? – Though he’s played some of the most consistent golf of his career and been around the lead often (see the British last year), Phil hasn’t won since he won the British in 2013. Can he pull out one more major surprise with that famous Augusta-friendly short game?

If he’s steady off the tee, the decider for Phil will likely be that claw putting grip he remains committed to. Can he roll it for four rounds again like he did at the British last year? If so, look out for Lefty.

Will it be a favorite or will it be someone like Willett? – More than the course, the weather may be the wildcard to answering this question.

With windy and possible wet weather on tap for the first two days, it could open the door for some underdogs to secure some previous landscape near the top of the weekend leaderboard.

The forecasted cool conditions are being likened to 2007, when Zach Johnson used some clutch and calculated wedge play to surgically conquer Augusta National and the field. Will a similar approach prevail this year?

The Tour saw four first-timers last year claim all the majors a year ago. Will that trend continue or will a favorite emerge victorious? We’ll soon find out during one of the best weeks in golf.

Masters coozy

yogis

19th Hole Media: A Q & A About Yoga And Golf And Riverwalk’s Upcoming Yoga Event

yogis

Riverwalk will be hosting its first-ever yoga class on April 12th when we hold Yogis & Bogeys at 5:30 p.m. Erin Hanson of Live + Breathe will conduct the class, which will introduce golfers to the benefits of yoga. In this Q & A, Erin talks about the benefits of yoga to golfers and how it can improve your health and game.
 
Q: For those who do not currently do yoga, which is widely practiced in San Diego and SoCal, how do you explain it?

A: Yoga is a multi-faceted practice that works to integrate both the mind and body. The form of yoga that is most familiar is the physical version with poses that are put together in a special “sequence” designed for a particular style. Each style is developed to emphasize what the participant wants to gain from class (i.e., restorative yoga, hot power yoga). Yoga is a skill set that can translate to many activities and can simultaneously provide energizing and calming effects.  
 
Follow the link to read the rest of my Q & A with Erin and register for the event. We hope to see you!

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Photo: www.collegeofgolf.keiseruniversity.edu.

Arroyo Adjusted

19th Hole Media: Five Reasons Why Spring Of 2017 Is Prime Time For Your Golf Course’s Social Media

Arroyo Adjusted

The start to the 2017 golf season in California has been – pardon the pun – a water hazard.

A deluge unlike any seen in decades has washed away the drought but also plenty of tee times along with it. The windfall of a wet winter, however, will be paid forward in the spring when courses can boast impeccable course conditions and can look forward to significant savings on water costs.

Are you ready to capitalize and make a quick recovery from your lost rounds? Then look toward your social media.
Here are five reasons why spring of 2017 is prime time to leverage your social media and reap the benefits.

Green Equals Green –
A tour of courses in February showed course conditions the likes of which haven’t been seen in years in California due to the drought. It’s a perfect time to be updating your course photos and videos and let them work for you on social media.

Don’t tell golfers you have great course conditions – show them! Between Facebook, Instagram and your web site, you’ve got the tools to impress golfers and lure them to your course. You might even want to consider a drone shoot. Drone video footage is gold and plays very nicely with the changes to Facebook’s algorithm to help golfers discover your course.

If you rarely or infrequently post photos of your course, you’ll want to up your game this spring and help golfers visualize playing at your course under the best of conditions.

No. 13 collage

Tourism Traffic – We’re not out of the winter tourism window, especially when an otherwise mild winter is just starting to play the back nine in most of the country. And usually a winter reprieve means a prolonged ending that drags into spring.

If that pattern repeats, there’s still a chance for you to coax golfers to the coast … but they have to be able to find you! Your web site will do some of that work for you, but social media is the BEST way to reach to the golf world and show them what you have to offer.

Much of the rest of country’s courses don’t become truly playable until around May, thus giving you March and April to still re-capture some of that lost tourism traffic from the winter.

If you get active on social there’s still time to catch the eye of that buddy’s trip or other groups that might be looking to escape the winter doldrums for a few rounds under the California sun. There’s still time, partly because …

The Time’s A Changin’ – The time change kicks in on March 12, giving courses back those lost precious hours. If you want sure to keep your course stays busy til sundown, social is your ticket, especially if you plan to lean on discounted rounds, specials, etc. You’ll want to be aggressively communicating those to your golf audience, and social is the ideal way to do it.

Pent-up demand – After a few months of California cabin fever, your golfers are itching to get back to golf as usual, which means making up for lost rounds. You want to make sure that’s happening at your course.

Again, put your course out there to coax them – and it’s also a perfect time to dangle membership specials, lessons offers, etc. to help them get back in the swing of things. Help your golfers get back in the game by convincing them your course is the place to do it – and then engage them with online interactions that make it more likely to happen.

Every time you create a post, you create an opportunity for a conversation and an increased awareness of your course and the potential to book a tee time. But you’ve got be willing to invest the time and resources. That’s where 19th Hole Media is here to help. We specialize in engaging golfers and driving interest in your course.

If you don’t have time for your social media, guess what? We do! Because that’s all we do! Let us do it for you!

masters-4k[1]

The Masters – The first major will be here before you know it, and in a way it already is. The TV commercial blitz has been going for some time now, stirring the hibernating hearts of golfers who live for April and Augusta, which ushers in the new golf season for much of the country.

Interest, enthusiasm and exposure for golf piques up to and during The Masters. You can play off that sentiment by talking about the Tour on your social channels, promoting The Masters countdown and maybe even by planning a Masters contest or promotion for your course.

Social media is the perfect platform for all of it. If your course is behind on its social media, it’s a prime time to catch up – and there’s still time, but you have to start now! Followers and engagement don’t happen overnight, but they can happen more quickly when you’re putting out the right messages and images.

I’ll close by saying, Congratulations! Your course has likely never looked better! Now you need to make sure golfers know about it. 19th Hole Media is here to help. Are you ready for a conversation and free consultation?

Contact me at corey.ross@yahoo.com to set an appointment and put your course on a path to spring social media success.

March Southland

Southland: REALiTEE Golf To Become A Reality In 2017

Southland spread

REALiTEE Golf will become a reality in 2017.

The indoor golf concept created by Dave Shultz of Anaheim found a venture partner the Lummi Nation Indian tribe in Washington and is developing a plan to open its first location at the Silver Reef Hotel Casino and Spa in Ferndale, Wash., before the end of the year.

Shultz had been shopping his concept since launching the company vision in Feb. 2016 at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego and considered a number of possible starting locations. The fit with Lummi Nation came before the new year and was what Shultz said he was looking for in a partner all along.

“They had been interested in the golf entertainment world and took the step of hiring a business development resource to look for emerging opportunities like this,” Shultz said. “When they saw we were doing something this innovative, they jumped on it. It really resonated with them. They had even considered buying an actual golf course, but chose this because of its unique approach as an entertainment and real golf solution.”

Follow the link to read the rest of this piece.

March Southland

Boxed in

Southland Golf: Chris Mayson Lesson Series

Feb. South

I thoroughly enjoyed producing these lesson pieces for the Feb. issue of Southland Golf with elite instructor Chris Mayson and photographer Joey Cobbs. February is the instruction issue of Southland and these pieces were part of the cover story. Enjoy.

tee shot - page one

tee up - page 2

Boxed in

Clock method

Final Rock Star (2)

Moving On

Final Rock Star (2)

Career update: I’ve left Maderas. I had a great experience there, but it was time to stop dividing my time and energies to focus entirely on growing my opportunity with Zeb Welborn and 19th Hole Media. I joined Zeb in June and we’ve had great success growing our golf social media marketing business. My time at Maderas was extremely valuable for discovering social media solutions for golf courses to support their various marketing and business objectives. I take all of those strategies forward, and continue to search for new ones, as we serve our current client base and seek to recruit more courses.

A huge thank to everyone who has supported my career and growth up to this point and has watched it grow into EXACTLY what I decided I wanted it to be four years ago. I’m there today because of your encouragement, belief and support. It feels great! I’ve never felt better about where things are going and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Ready for a conversation? Please contact me to find out what social media can do for your golf course in 2017!