Category Archives: California History

house 1

Memorial Day Preview: California Classic Home Coming To Market Soon In Point Loma. See It Here First!

house 1

The blog is turning over a bit of a new leaf and dabbling in real estate this Memorial Day weekend to offer this preview of a California classic home coming to market soon as a FSBO.

This spacious four-bed, 3.5-bath home with a pool offers spectacular views of downtown and the Coronado Bridge from its unique hilltop location. The curb appeal of this home extends far into the San Diego horizon. We promise the first look will wow you.

Once you get inside, you’ll find an inviting home that provides two stories of generous and versatile living spaces. It is complemented by two side yards, including an exquisite main backyard with a pool and impeccable landscaping that creates a lush, secluded sanctuary to enjoy our sensational San Diego weather.

Built in 1938, this 3,621-foot structure has recently been updated with solar panels and includes a garage and a pool house.

To view this property, please contact Christi at 858.270.0860. If you’re home shopping this holiday week, this is one to put on your list. The views will amaze and the home will delight. Could this home be the right fit for you?

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master bath


wine fridge


side 2

No. 5

Maderas: Maderas’ 2016 Farmers Insurance Open Preview W/Chris Mayson Pick and Predictions

No. 5

When the PGA Tour arrived at Torrey Pines a year ago, it was a Tour in transition. A year later, there’s raging debate about whether golf is being led by a Big Three or a full-fledged foursome.

Two of the players in golf’s most prestige pack – Rickie Fowler and Jason Day – are in the Farmers Insurance Open Field this week. Fowler is fresh off a win in Abu Dhabi over major winners Jordan Spieth and Rory McIroy. Day is the defending champion at Torrey, but reportedly battling the flu.

This is set to be Day’s 2016 Tour debut and first chance to make a statement against his peers. He ended the 2015 major season by capturing the title at the PGA Championship by shooting 25-under to set a major championship scoring record. He briefly thereafter vaulted to No. 1 in the world.

Day’s win a year ago at Torrey started to set the Tour on a new course during a week that began with Tiger Woods withdrawing with a back injury. This week Day and Fowler have a chance to contribute to golf’s great debate. Will they deliver? We’ll start finding out on Thurs.

Torrey sun

palm sun

Photo/Video Post: A Brilliant Sunset At Tourmaline Surf Beach

palm sun

As residents know, California is a winter wonderland not only for its balmy temps but also its sunsets, which tend to be more colorful than the summer variety. Thursday was a prime example. I’ve included a few photos and a video of Thursday’s display. The photo at the end shows you this one’s humble beginnings, but the key was a cloud layer that became an awesome canvas for a natural lightshow after the sun went down. Fascinating stuff.

And would you believe it came from this humble beginning?


Lighthouse and arch

SD Day Trip: The Channel Islands

Lighthouse and arch

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

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

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

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

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

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


This is what awaited us when we boarded in Oxnard.


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

seals harbor

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

leaving harbor

The beautiful, tranquil backdrop we left behind …

open ocean

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

first glimpse

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

And then you get to the arch.

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

Including my diver ..

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

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

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

The Grand Monarch: New Luxury Living Arrives At Monarch Beach


The new Grand Monarch luxury residences in Monarch Beach take elite golf course and ocean-view living to a whole new level.

And by that, of course, we mean you can see Monarch Beach Golf Links and the Pacific Ocean from your bathtub. This is not a joke. We repeat: This is a not a joke.

A square cutout above the bathtub makes the previously mentioned views viewable provided the patio doors of the main bedroom have been left open.

The blog has seen a lot of things in its day, but this is a first.


That unique design twist by William Lyon Signature Home is executed in two of three models that debuted last weekend and will eventually become 37 luxury residences. Twelve residences are slated to be ready for move in by this fall. Price point is $3 million and up.

What do you get for such a lofty rate? A whole lot of unique living – and exquisite golf course views.

golf patio

One model has a courtyard that smells like a walk-in herb garden, another a wine cellar we conservatively estimate at 300-bottle capacity.


Besides the benefits in living in such post accommodations, residents are also afforded the member benefits of the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, the Monarch Bay Club private bar, restaurant and “stunning” private beach as well as, naturally, the access to lush Monarch Beach Links.

You can find out more about the Dana Point project at or by calling 949.218.1855. We’ll close with a brief photo tour.

grand monarch




home art






Southland: Balboa Park Golf Course Turns 100

southland july

It may seem hard to be believe that a course sitting in view of San Diego’s city skyline could qualify as a hiding gem, but, alas, that’s the fate of Balboa Park.

The oldest course in San Diego, opened in 1915, is a local favorite yet may barely register regionally or to tourists due to little promotion as one of three city courses run by the city of San Diego.

If outsiders have heard of it, it’s likely in reference to Phil Mickelson playing his formative rounds there – or him still joining his kids for an occasional loop.

Another possibility is catching word of Sam Snead’s course record of 60 shot in 1943, a mark that still carries a magical aura due to the legend attached.

no. 1

Beyond that, Balboa exists as a humble home to loyal range of local golfers looking to catch a round downtown. But others who don’t experience the place are indeed missing something.

The course is narrow, a bit quirky in places, but it provides unmatched golf course views of downtown and a great walk to boot.

“It’s a cherished treasure in San Diego,” says Paul Cushing, the Assistant Deputy Director for the City of San Diego’s courses. “It has an incredible local following.”

With both an 18-hole and 9-hole course on property, Balboa is a golf venue for all ages – and at a value.

“For $14, you can get out and play nine holes,” Cushing says of the executive course for residents. “You can’t find that hardly anywhere anymore.”


The 18-hole hosts 60,000 rounds a year, the nine-hole 50,000. That’s an impressive amount of play for a game that’s supposedly on the decline.

Cushing says rounds are actually on the rise at Balboa, partly due to recent improvements, such as a new irrigation system and new cart paths along with tweaks to a few holes.

The next steps to increase the lure of Balboa are plans to renovate and update the clubhouse, restaurant and pro shop.

There isn’t a definitive start date, but there is a definitive intent: To attract more non-golfers.

“We’re looking to attract more non-golfers through an upgraded restaurant and more attractive clubhouse experience,” Cushing says. “People in the community really like coming out to Balboa to eat and we’re looking to improve their experience.”

Maximizing the clubhouse view of downtown, which is spectacular, is part of that plan, including adding a patio space.

Expanding a limited pro shop space will similarly expand the options for golfers, many of whom, Cushing says, cherish the exec. course as much as the 18.

“It’s a great, fun golf course with a good variety of par 3s and 4s,” he says. “You can hit every club in the bag, and it’s a very easy walk with trees and rolling hills. People just love it, and it’s very affordable.”

When you play the 18-hole course, aside from the opening tee shot, which is elevated and gives you the first glimpse of downtown, you’re likely to remember the similarly scenic closing stretch. A brief tour:

balboa 16

No. 16, par 5, 555 yards – The fairway bottlenecks, making for a tight tee shot, but if you avoid OB, you’ve got a great chance to score here. Regardless of birdie or bogey, the view from the green here offers the peak view of downtown.

17 balboa

No. 17, par 3, 198 yards – This skyline remains in view from the tee of this elevated par 3. The last of a strong group of par 3s, club down and don’t go long here and you’ll keep par in play.


No. 18, par 4, 316 yards –
Nicknamed “Cardiac Hill,” this tight closing par 4 is dead uphill, thus the moniker for walkers. Avoid the trees on the left and a walk-off birdie in the shadow of the Balboa clubhouse could still be yours.

After being treated to a fun round and a unique view of the city, it’s hard to imagine a round on San Diego’s oldest golf course ever getting old.


Balboa Park By the Numbers

1915 – The year Balboa opened, making it the oldest course in San Diego

1943 – The year Sam Snead carded the course record (60)

28 –
Snead’s score on the front nine of his record round

27 – Holes at Balboa (an 18 and 9-hole exec.)

110,000 – Annual rounds played at Balboa’s two courses

$14/10 – Rate to walk the executive course for residents and seniors

For more information about Balboa Park, or to book a round, go to

Southland: SoCal Golf and the Drought

Southland June

For the worst-case scenario, look up 1977, a year when drought conditions resulted in courses on the Monterrey Peninsula having water usage cut in half or more, causing many to struggle for survival.

Mike Huck, a California water management and recycled water expert with Irrigation & Turfgrass Services in San Juan Capistrano, remembers photos of Pebble Beach from that period.

“It looked like this carpet,” Huck said, pointing to the brownish-yellow material beneath his feet at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. “Except for the greens and tees.”

Follow the link to the rest of my cover story in the June issue.


Southland: La Costa Celebrates 50 Years

Valley Promenade cropped

Editor’s note: This is an expanded version of my piece in the June issue of Southland Golf.

Tiger Woods won here. Gary Adams tested some of the first TaylorMade clubs here – and the metalwood made its PGA Tour debut here. Richard Nixon and Jackie Kennedy stayed here.

Yes, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa has packed a lot into its first 50 years. As it celebrates its milestone anniversary this year, the challenge now is to balance a prestigious past with a progressive future.

The first steps toward that future were actually taken 10 years ago when La Costa embarked on a $50 million renovation that included a new spa, two new restaurants and layout tweaks to its two championship golf courses.

The renovation was completed two years ago when the Legends (South) Course re-opened. New Director of Golf Pat Miller arrived shortly after and discovered a resort with a balance of new sparkle and classic charm.

“A lot of times new owners want to change things, but I give a lot of credit to past owners that so much has stayed the same,” he says. “La Costa has largely stood the test of time. There’s a nice balance now been what has worked in the past and what’s new.”

On the golf side, what’s most recently new is an experience now weighted more toward player/game development and improvement. Among other things, a Cobra Golf Tour truck – nicknamed The Snake Pit – is on the range to provide custom fittings, and La Costa has established The Golf Performance Institute (GPI), a comprehensive training center meant to enhance the golf lifestyle.

“It’s now more of an overall experience here than just a place where you show up and tee off,” Miller says.

And the experience after you tee off has significantly evolved with the re-designs of both 18s and continues to, Miller says. He says the Legends Course is still settling into its new greens but is starting to discover its peak shape.

“There’s been a little of a learning curve from a maintenance stand point,” he says. “The greens started out very hard on the Legends, but we’re working to soften them. That side isn’t as its peak yet, but it’s still very good.”

Legends Course [15]

The Legends plays as the tougher of the two sides, especially when an ocean wind is whipping, making the home stretch, the famed “Longest Mile in Golf,” even longer.

“We do get the ocean breeze, and it can make as much as two-clubs difference,” Miller says. “I played it like that the other day and it’ll make you work to get it to the green in regulation.”

LaCosta_Champions Course Hole 11 Wide cropped

The Champions side tends to be a little more welcoming to first-timers and higher handicaps, Miller says, largely because of its wider fairways.

“It’s easier to hit the fairways, but the greens are more protected with bunkers. You’ve got to make a lot of carries,” he says. “Both courses are challenging in their own right.”

In its heyday, professionals from Snead and Nicklaus to Mickelson and Woods competed at La Costa, most notably in the PGA’s annual match play. That relationship ended in 2006.

Miller says La Costa is seeking to re-raise its competitive profile. The course held the SCGA’s state amateur last year and will hold the Gifford Collegiate, a top-tier men’s event hosted by UCLA, this fall.

The course also hosted an industry cup for staffers at Southern California’s major equipment companies.

“We’re always looking for ways to showcase the facility,” Miller says.

And for ways to correct a common misconception about La Costa: That it’s members only.

The course is actually a resort course that rotates member and guest play between the two courses on alternating days.

“We want outside guests, hotel guests and people traveling for business to see what La Costa has to offer,” he says.

What they’ll find, Miller says, are a couple of still classically great golf courses, a whole host of new amenities and an all-encompassing golf experience.

In its 50th anniversary year, Miller still finds the nostalgia factor for La Costa to be a strong one and would like to do more to capitalize on that.

“I love the history of the game and hearing about the great stories of the past and seeing the old photos,” he says. “This is where a lot of golf history happened, and I want to do more with that. That’s part of what makes golf here meaningful and memorable.”

Coastal Events Center fountain 240dpi 6x4

La Costa By The Numbers:

1963 –
The year two future owners and developers discovered the property while riding equestrian

1965 – The year La Costa opened as a golf, tennis and resort facility

1969 –
The inaugural year of PGA match play at La Costa

2006 –
The final year of PGA match play at La Costa

$50 million – Cost of La Costa’s extensive recent renovation

$1.5 million – The cost to build the original golf course in 1964

La_Costa Champions 18 at 8x6 200dpi