Category Archives: California History

Big News: SoCal PGA Honors Blog W/2014 Media Award

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Here’s a great way to start a week: Announcing you won something.

I was informed last week that I’ve been chosen as the 2014 Media Person of the Year by the Southern California PGA’s San Diego Chapter. It’s obviously gratifying and always an honor to win something like this, but I’m particularly appreciative of this award since I’m living in a new area and it comes from a group of people (the PGA pros) that I respect and really enjoy working with.

In particular, I have Mark Hayden, General Manager of Eagle Crest and member of the PGA board, to thank for this. He’s been a supporter of mine from the beginning and nominated me back when I didn’t even there was something to be nominated for.

Anyway, this is the endorsement Mark wrote for my LinkedIn after nominating me:

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Corey Ross for over three years now, beginning with him being a student in my class at the Golf Academy of America. The enthusiasm and passion he showed for the game then he now expresses in his writings.

“His regular blog posts and magazine articles have been a great a promoter of the Southern California golf experience, as well as promoting the SDPGA, Junior Golf, PGA professionals and the game as a whole. He work has been well received in the golfing community.

“That’s why, though he’s only been doing this in San Diego for barely more than year, I felt he was worthy of nomination as the SDPGA’s 2014 Media Person of the Year. This annual award given by the SDPGA and its more than 400 members recognizes the media person who contributes the most to golf in the greater San Diego area. This honor can only be awarded to someone who has shown dedication to promoting the game and who has many supporting contributions, but Corey’s work has quickly met this criteria as his professionalism has earned him an impressive roster of golf clients, including TaylorMade Golf, JC Golf and Maderas Golf Club.

“I wish him well in future endeavors and know he’ll continue to diligently and creatively work to spread the word about the golfing good life we all enjoy in Southern California.”

There really isn’t any more that I could want someone to say about my work than that. There are plenty of others who’ve been supportive along the way, but I’d be quite remiss if I didn’t mention my editor at Southland Golf, Al Petersen, who gave the first assignment that got the ball rolling on all of this and gave me my new professional life in California.

Then I started the blog and started blogging for JC Golf and 160-some posts later socalgolfblog.com is now award-winning. I’d like to thank all my clients, but in particular Maderas General Manager Bill O’Brien who had a hand in pointing me in the right direction from the beginning in terms of marketing needs for golf courses. His openness, honesty and friendship have been invaluable while I’ve been figuring out a direction for my work.

I’m hopeful that other courses and course groups will see the content need the way JC Golf and Maderas do and that I can help more of them promote the incredible playing experiences Southern California golf has to offer.

Beyond that, I hope my readers have similarly appreciated what they find here. It’s been fun to watch the readership grow and I hope for only more of the same in 2015.

Finally, thank you to the Southern California PGA members and board for validating all the work that has been done here. I’m looking forward to meeting as many of you possible at the awards breakfast in December. Thank you for the honor.


October 2014 Southland Golf

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The October issue of Southland Golf was my busiest issue ever. Follow the link to the digital issue and you will find stories as listed.

The Grape Escape: Temecula wine country travel piece – page 9

Lasting Impact: Titleist 915 driver Q & A – page 24

Stick Around: A look at the Lodge at Torrey Pines – page 47

Bucket List: A lesson about lessons – tips for maximizing your golf lesson – page 57

Q & A W/Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed – page 86

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SD Tourism: The U.S. Open Returns To Torrey Pines in 2021

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Left: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and USGA Vice President Dan Burton at the March press event to announce the Open’s return to Torrey. Photo courtesy of the USGA.

Editor’s Note: The following is the first post of an occasional series I’m doing for the San Diego Tourism Authority to promote golf in San Diego. You can also find this post at http://www.sandiego.org/articles/golf/us-open-2021-torrey-pines.aspx

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An iconic champion at the height of his game. A saavy veteran challenger having the week of his life. A major championship golf event, the first in San Diego, played at recently renovated Torrey Pines.

A clutch putt. An 18-hole Monday playoff. A victory for the ages to add to the sports record chase of our lifetimes, secured on what we’d find out later was a broken leg, only enhancing the legacy of perhaps Tiger Woods’ greatest major championship performance.

Yes, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines had it all. And now it will have a sequel. The United States Golf Association awarded Torrey Pines its long-awaited second U.S. Open, slated for 2021.

We’ll continue to update this information as it becomes available but for now is just a future reminder of the return of one of the PGA Tour’s four major championships to the sunny shores of San Diego.

Total attendance for the 2008 Open was 295,000. The 2021 event should see similar attendance so plan your trip to the Open early.

“Just as San Diego served as home to one of the greatest championships in golf history in 2008, we’re confident that we will once again provide and exciting and dynamic venue for 2021,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer said at the press event to announce the tournament’s return.

Woods will be 45 when the U.S. Open returns to Torrey. His win in 2008 turned Torrey Pines into hallowed ground for golfers. Thousands now annually make the trek to San Diego to play the South Course and experience the mystique of walking in the footsteps of greatness.

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Torrey Pines Head Pro Joe DeBock says the boost the 2008 Open gave the course’s legacy and reputation can’t be overstated.

“You can actually play the course where they played the U.S. Open,” DeBock says. “Torrey Pines became very popular just for that fact. The course brings back those memories in a way that just going back to a stadium doesn’t.

“And it was one of the greatest championships ever.”

City officials used words like “passion,” “excitement” and “electricity” to describe the atmosphere they’re hoping to recapture in 2021. That’s a tall order but certainly fun to think about not only for San Diego golfers, but golf fans worldwide.

As is standard for Opens, the course will be closed during the tournament and the week of preparation prior. Fortunately for visiting golfers who want to squeeze in a few rounds during those two weeks, San Diego has abundant options, with nearly 90 courses in the county.

Golfers staying downtown are likely to gravitate to Riverwalk and its 27 holes, harbor-side Coronado Golf Course on Coronado Island, or Balboa Park Golf Course, one of Torrey Pines’ sister San Diego public courses.

Those willing to drive a little can discover Maderas Golf Club in Poway, one of the country’s two courses rated top 100 by Golf Digest, or Barona Creek in Lakeside, another course consistently rated among California’s best as is the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

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Until 2021, we have the annual Farmers Insurance Open to look forward to and Phil Mickelson’s renovation of the North Course at Torrey Pines in 2015. Yes, golfers have it good in San Diego.


Happy Birthday To the Blog!

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Photo courtesy of www.thehackersparadise.com

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This should’ve dawned on me yesterday, but it just hit me now: The blog turned one today.

Arnold Palmer’s birthday, which was yesterday, was the subject of my first post – the day after his birthday. I wrote about my appreciation for him and in particular cited his ESPN commercial and his Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial – “Swing your swing” – as two of my favorite things ever on TV.

Wow. That was about 150 posts ago.

Well, the blog, appropriately, is celebrating on the golf course tomorrow.

Now pass the cake …

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JC Golf: LA Kings Bring Stanley Cup to Encinitas Ranch

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Encinitas Ranch hosted a private event on Friday for the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings that gathered about 100 fans and friends of the team and a few players to celebrate the title in the company of the Stanley Cup.

The cup arrived about an hour before event to much curiosity and was treated like a celebrity. Guests and golf staff all clamored for a photo with one of sport’s most cherished, and well-traveled, trophies. Prior to coming to Encinitas Ranch the cup appeared at Rady Children’s Hospital was taken to Coronado to spend the afternoon with the Navy SEALS. Two days prior, the cup made the rounds in Catalina.

The following is a photo post from the cup’s evening at Encinitas Ranch.

To book your private event at Encinitas Ranch, please contact Catering/Food and Beverage Manager Kylie Herman at 760.944.1936, ext. 112, or kherman@jcresorts.com.

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Tyler Wells and Tracy Taylor of Encinitas Ranch greet the cup, which is being carried by Jeff Solomon, LA Kings Senior Vice President for Hockey Operations and Legal Affairs.

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The engraving to celebrate the 2012 title (2014 hasn’t been added yet).

Inside of Cup

There’s actually an inscription inside the bowl on top of the cup. It’s the engraving honoring the 1907 Montreal Wanderers. That year, according to Wikipedia, the cup ran out of room to record the winning roster on the outer bands.

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Encinitas Ranch 1st Assistant/Golf Professional Brandon Delgado has his picture taken with the cup.

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Outside Services Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has some fun with the cup. Many creative poses were employed in cup photos.

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Catering/Food and Beverage Manager Kylie Herman took this selfie with the cup.


Celebrating My Hole-In-One-Aversary: Two Years & Counting

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The two-year anniversary of my only hole-in-one is Labor Day, but I’m not envisioning a holiday as a big blog traffic day so I’m celebrating on the blog a week early. (Hey, it’s my blog, so I can do these things.)

I achieved the Holy Grail of golf shots quite unexpectedly three years ago, on Sept. 3, 2012, my first year in California.

That day I ventured out mid-afternoon only looking to get a few swings in on what normally would’ve been a tournament day (Monday) while I was attending the Golf Academy of America.

My original intent was just to hit range balls that day but my request to use my school-arranged range was denied, no kidding, because I wasn’t wearing long pants and thus in non-compliance with the most ridiculous element of the school’s dress code. (Long pants even for practice? Really?)

Anyway, the closest course to the range was the Vineyard in Escondido, so I decided to walk on and see how many holes I could squeeze in before sundown.

Well, on the third hole, a tranquil short par-3 played over a pond, I had the golf shock of my life: my first hole-in-one.

Playing a mere 125 yards from the blue tees, I pulled pitching wedge and watched my shot land about a foot in front of the hole and then hop into the cup.

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The hole

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It took me about five seconds to realize what had happened. The silence of the moment was broken by my three playing partners breaking out a celebratory golf clap.

After driving up to the hole, which I’d never played before, I walked up to the cup with camera phone in hand. I plucked the ball from the cup and struck a celebratory pose under the pin flag as one of my planning partner’s snapped the photo you see up top.

That brought the moment full circle and made me really realize I’d finally accomplished something had eluded me at least six times on the golf course, including once when my foursome slapped my back and high-fiving me on the tee only to find the ball 2 inches away from the cup, stopping on a downslope of all things.

Yes, these shots are part skill and part luck, thus the odds of making one being roughly 1 in 12,000.

I considered it to be my greatest golf moment since I won my first real set of irons (Titleist AP 1s) in a raffle for $20 at a charity golf tournament.

When I reported my ace at the clubhouse, they handed me a photo of the hole, which became the centerpiece of a shrine to the moment that I kept in my closet. The display consisted of the photo, the ball and my scorecard (38 on the front, thank you). I later, as a present, received a wooden “1” that would host the historic ball.

As best I could tell, that’s how you were supposed to properly celebrate what most regard as golf’s ultimate lifetime achievement award (a double eagle – a two on a par-5 – is actually more rare, but so much so that it’s beyond the wildest dreams of most who play).

A couple of the fringe benefits going forward were:

1) Every time I played the hole, I got to tell me story of my hole-in-one and re-live the moment a bit. (And, yes, I can still see and hear the ball going in.)

2) In any conversation about hole-in-ones, I could say I had one, and there are really only two camps of golfers: those who’ve had one and those who haven’t. You celebrate with the ones who have and commiserate with the ones who haven’t. My eye doctor looked at me with particular disdain when I told what I’d accomplished. “Thirty years of playing this game and I haven’t had one,” he said, shaking his head.
The game can be cruel that way, but my doc seemed to be in a particularly bitter group who could probably use a support group.

For me, it’s just fun to remember the day and the circumstances. Among others, I’d only been attending golf school for a week when I had my ace. When I announced my ace at school the next day, I told my instructor, “I had no idea school would work that fast.”

It’d be great to make another one some day – and, in fact, I had one round at Monarch Beach last summer where I nearly made two – but it’s mostly in the old business file. My new business is making and breaking par for a round.

Somewhat strangely, I think of my moment when the “This is SportsCenter” comes on where there’s velvet rope in a hallway at ESPN and seemingly bass bumping behind the door of what looks like a service closet, guarded by a doorman with “the list.” The bass turns out to be a bass drum from a marching band, one of the “club” members for ESPN’s Plays of the Week.

I’m not a member of many clubs, but I am a member of the hole-in-one club. When you make yours, I look forward to quoting the commercial and saying, or mostly likely texting: “Welcome to the club.”

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Friday Photo Post: Huge Waves in Cbad/Oside

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After more than two years of living here now, one of my self-styled favorite California credos has become: When in doubt, walk the beach.

Given my recent travels, I was away from the beach for a week and thus suffering dreaded beach withdrawal. After sending out a virtual blizzard of post-PGA Show emails on Thursday, I needed to rest my fried creative brain. So I closed my laptop around 3 p.m. and pointed by sandaled toes westward.

What I witnessed on the beach over the next three hours reinforces what I tell people about CA: Its ability to wow you in an instant is part of what makes it such an incredible and, for me, inspiring place. Seemingly mundane can turn magical in a California heartbeat. And that’s what happened Thursday.

I walked out to an ocean that at first glance appeared normal. It was doing its usual rhythmic, splashy, beautiful thing … until it turned into something else: a performance.

The more I walked north, from Carlsbad’s beach to Oceanside’s, the more I noticed that the frequency of the waves was becoming more intense. The waves were literally coming in waves – in sets of four or five.

Then the size of the waves became noticeably larger, which is something I might’ve missed two years ago (Note: the blog neither surfs nor swims).

The noticeably agitated state of the ocean was doubly confirmed to me when a tank-topped California blonde male passerby and I had the following conversation:

Him: “Dude, where’s the beach?”

To translate Californian, he wasn’t asking where the beach was, because that question is just silly. We all know where the beach is.

He was asking, “Where did the beach go?” Moreover, “What’s the deal with the ocean?”

I related to him something a surfer told me near the Oceanside pier minutes earlier. Apparently hurricanes near Hawaii are sending us massive surf. The surfer was reporting 8-foot waves and said his surfer buddies were abandoning the water.

“It’s getting rough out there,” he said.

And it was. I watched the surfers for a good 10 minutes and it was like witnessing an amateur bull-riding competition. No one was staying up for more than three seconds.

You have to understand that this is really aggressive surf for Carlsbad/Oceanside.

Anyway, I tried to capture this event in pics – and nearly lost my iPhone doing it (more on that shortly).

Land-locked photogs won’t appreciate this, but taking interesting photos of the ocean isn’t that easy. You can’t just point your camera phone at the water and get great pics, which I know sounds absurd, but it’s true.

To get something not mundane of the ocean, you need two things: perspective or scale. Or both. Perspective defined: elevation (a lifeguard tower, a cliff, etc.). Scale defined: boats, rocks, people – something other than water compared to water.

Again, I know this sounds totally ridiculous, but I’m going to spare you posting about 50 boring ocean photos from yesterday that completely failed to capture what was happening to make my point.

Instead, I’ll post these, which are my amateur best. Trust me, it was a rad day to be on the beach. And, yes, that’s the first time I’ve ever used rad in a blog post. I was saving it. And today is supposed to be a rad ocean day as well. Now to the swell swells …

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This is the one of the entrances to Carlsbad beach. As the cops say, “There’s nothing to see here.” Well, nothing except normal, beautiful, awesome. This is what it looks like nearly every day.

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This photo probably looks like nothing, but trust me, it’s something. This was the first indication of more frequent waves than usual.

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This is what a pier getting pounded looks like. And it took the perspective of the pier to really properly capture what was going on.

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See?

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And this is what it looks like when you nearly lose your iPhone in the ocean. I had waded out into the water a bit to try to get a closer perspective on the pier. In that instant, a ropey strand of kelp washed up and wrapped around my ankles like a python. I briefly couldn’t move and then a wave hit me waist high and nearly took me out.

I immediately retreated to the beach. I have no business being in a turbid Pacific Ocean.

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Some of us stopped to appreciate what was going on. But many others just kept on doing their California thing, meaning …

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Running.

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Reading.

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And walking where you’d normally walk despite the fact that normally dry area is now engulfed in waves. This isn’t the best photo to show that, but it’s my best pic of the horizon. Photo editors have to make these sorts of tough calls. That’s what the blog pays me for. Or, more accurately, doesn’t pay me for.

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And this concludes our virtual day at the beach. If I get something good later, I’ll update and, as always, keep you posted.

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SD Day Trip: Temecula Wine Country

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My relationship with southern SoCal (meaning not LA) began in Temecula. That’s where I was hosted three years ago on what I like to call my new-life shopping trip.

Those are the three weeks I spent in SoCal planning the life I have now. Temecula wine country was a big part of those dreamy days. In particular, I had a couple social Sundays in the wineries meeting locals and gaining valuable advice on the plan for my new life.

But more than that, simply experiencing wine country sold me on SoCal. Where cornfields used to be my vista, now it was vineyards stretching endlessly into the horizon. Talk about a change of scenery.

My wine experience in the Midwest was mostly at the social functions I covered. I gained an appreciation for wine, but never a love. When I told that to people who moved to Omaha for the West Coast, I was assured I wasn’t drinking the good stuff.
Standing in a Temecula tasting room, swirling chardonnay in my glass, I knew this was the good stuff. And this was the good life.

In that respect, Temecula wine country will always be a special place because it helped me dream big dreams. Now it helps me realize them.

With every trip to wine country, my fascination grows as I learn more about the history and the people who gave birth to this magical place and soak in more of the culture and the ambience. Ah, the ambience.

This blog post hopes to capture a little of all the above, but, like the sips your wine card gets you, it’s only a taste of the Temecula experience, which amazingly continues to grow and evolve 40 years after Ely Callaway opened the first winery in 1974.

And fittingly our virtual tour begins at Callaway Winery. This is the recounting of my recent experience, but it’s only one. With nearly 50 wineries now, the ways to experience wine country are vast and growing every day. Not to be the Temecula Chamber of Commerce, but if you haven’t been, you need to go. It really is a magical place.

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One of the ways to experience wine country is via the Grapeline, a wine country shuttle service. Besides eliminating driving, the Grapeline provides a guided tour and plans your itinerary. Ours included stops at five wineries and lunch, which we’ll get to a minute. We were a band of 10, but the Grapeline can shut as many as groups of 30 or 40.

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Our tour began at Callaway with a wine tour, which is a tour of the winery that takes you through the process of wine making. Many of the wineries offer these and if you ask around, you’ll find out which are some of the better ones. As a far kid, I like to know where things come from so this is fascinating stuff for me. You learn what climates produce certain grapes, what the process is and then all sort of fun wine facts such as how many bottles of wine are in a barrel (300). I highly recommend a tour if you are a first-timer.

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About those grapes … We were told Temecula grows 24 varietals, nearly twice as many of most wine-making regions. Which means you really can experience it all here, and each winery has its own specialty or niche. That’s part of the joy of discovery of getting to know each one.

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This is the enterance to Callaway’s restaurant, but you can also see the vineyards in the background. Each property has a different make up. Some just make wine. Many have tasting rooms. Some have restaurants. Increasingly some have hotels. And many hosting weddings. Temecula is a very popular destination for that, and the wedding pics are phenomenal.

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The Callaway restaurant. How would you like that view for lunch? Stunning.

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You learn on the that roses serve as guardian plants for the grape vines. If there’s disease, it’ll show up on the roses first. Again, stuff like this speaks to my inner farm boy. These are the vines are Lorimar.

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What can you make out of wine corks? Temecula makes you realize seemingly infinite possibilities. And they repurpose wine barrels like crazy too. If you’re a huge home décor person, you’ll be in heaven here.

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This was lunch, staged in the barrel room of Cougar Vineyard and Winery. After a club sandwich, a fresh salad and a delicious brown with chocolate chunks inside, we were primed to continue tasting, which we, of course, also did with lunch.

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This is the view at Cougar. Like looking at the ocean, these views just never get old.

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Our last stop was at Temecula’s newest tasting room, Robert Renzoni Vineyards. This is a stunning property with a spacious tasting room and incredible views in every direction. I was a bit bummed we only had 30 minutes here. I wanted to stay and experience it much longer. Looks like I’m going back.

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The view at Renzoni. Tired of looking at these yet? I didn’t think so. Well, in the insert of blog brevity, I’m going to end the post here, but it could go on and on, and I re-do this post with different wineries and experiences every day for the rest of the experience. But this at least gives you a glimpse of what’s there to discover and do, especially at this time of year. Harvest is a festive time in wine country, and harvest started early this year due to the drought.
But if you’re planning in a trip in the next few months, know the wineries plan concerts and other events, such as grape stomping, around harvest. I have yet to experience that, but I want to this year.

And if I do, well, I expect to keep you “posted.” Cheers.


JC Golf: Drive, Chip and Putt at Encinitas Ranch Q & A

 

 

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   A year ago, the PGA instituted its answer to the NFL’s long-standing “Punt, Pass and Kick” youth skills competition with “Drive, Chip & Putt.”

          The competition culminated in the finals being held at Augusta National the week of the Masters, which got the attention of youth golfers everywhere – and their parents.

          Seeing the finalists on television at the Masters, including 11-year-old Lucy Li, who played in last week’s LPGA U.S. Open, has already sparked a rise in this year’s turnout. To handle the anticipated increase, the Southern California PGA has expanded the number of Southern California local qualifiers from 10 to 14, including one for the first time at Encinitas Ranch on July 7th.

          Finalists in the four age divisions for boys and girls at Encinitas Ranch will advance to a sub-regional on Aug. 18th at La Costa Resort and Spa and then on to Torrey Pines on Sept. 13th to compete for the trip to Augusta.

          Matt Gilson, Player Development Manager at the Southern California PGA, took a few minutes recently to answer some questions about this year’s competition.

Q. Southern California had two winners at last year’s inaugural competition at Augusta. What was their experience like?

A. Everybody had a blast. They got to meet (past champion) Adam Scott and (current champion) Bubba Watson. Going to the Master is every golfer’s dream come true. And they got everything covered for them and one parent, including tickets to the practice round on Monday. The whole package was really good.”

Q. How much has seeing all that one TV stirred interest this time around?

Sign-ups were a little slow because we were competing with school, but they’re starting to pick up. We’re definitely seeing an increase in participation. And I’ve seen kids who’ve never picked up a club before now going to the range the week before. There’s definitely motivation there with kids realizing they could end up on TV.

Q. Besides the increased number of qualifiers, how has the competition changed in year two? And what are the age categories?

Last year, we maxed out our qualifiers at 120 participants and this year it’s 200. The age ranges are 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15 with both boys and girls division. And those ages are determined by how old they would be on April 5th, 2015, which is the date of the national championship, so the youngest age to enter would be 6 if they would but 7 on or by April 5th, 2015.

Q. How does the competition work?

It’s a nine-shot competition that starts with putting. There’s a 6-foot putt, a 15 foot and a 30 foot. The hole is surrounded by scoring rings that provide points for how close they get. The max is 25 points for a holed putt.

They then have three chip shots, from about 12-15 yards, to a hole with scoring rings out to 10 feet and a make, again, is worth 25 points.

Then they have three swings on a 40-by-300-yard grid on a driving range. Beyond 300 yards is 25 points.

The highest total score wins and the top three in each age division advances from that age group’s qualifier to the next round. The top two in the sub-regional advance to Torrey Pines and the boy and girl winner in each division advances to the championship at Augusta.

Q. How do players or parents register, and how much does it cost?

Registration is free, and players sign up at www.drivechipandputt.com.

Q. What’s the atmosphere like at these events?

It’s competitive, but we still want kids to have fun. That’s the most important thing.

 

MARCH 2014 SOUTHLAND GOLF