Category Archives: Travel

vineyard course

Southland: Steele Canyon Renovation Includes Adding Vineyards

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A wave of tax-incentivized turf reduction projects swept over Southern California golf courses in 2015 in response to the drought.

Steele Canyon in Jamul was among the last to complete its work, but course management is banking it will be worth the wait.

“We looked at four other courses that did turf removal,” General Manager Colin Radchenko said. “They were all different, and we realized we had to make it fit what we wanted to do.”

What they did was use the opportunity to revamp and upgrade the course while adding a vineyard to a nine-hole stretch they were looking to rebrand. The concept works because grapes qualify as drought-resistant plants, one of the qualifications for receiving turf-reduction funding.

That’s why there are now grape vine shoots sprouting adjacent to tee boxes and greens on a nine Steele Canyon rebranded Vineyard from Meadow, the last of three nines to be built and the one always deemed to be the lesser of the course’s 27 holes by players, according to Steele Canyon CEO Larry Taylor.

“Nobody really wanted to play it,” Taylor said. “It wound through the homes, and it didn’t have the character of the other two nines.

“We wanted to make it on par with the two others.”

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The vineyards are situated on the reduced turf area around holes 2, 3 and 4. A stone bridge was added to No. 4, a par 4 that involves a creek carry on the second shot, to enhance the hole’s character.

The renovated nine that will eventually yield grapes is currently yielding compliments.

“People love it,” Radchenko said, with Taylor adding, “We accomplished our goal.”

The vineyards currently consist mostly of wire and shoots watered by a drip system. There are 1,200 vines that need nurturing that will eventually annually produce enough grapes to generate 2,400 to 3,600 bottles of syrah and sangiovese.

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Greg Maness, owner of Maness Vineyards in Jamul, is advising on the product, including educating the Steele Canyon maintenance staff on cultivating the grapes. His first task was to help the ownership determine that the land was suitable for growing grapes and then, along with vineyard design partner John Kelly, to assist in determining the angles of the vineyard plots to maximize sun exposure. Maness said the property is ideal for growing grapes largely because of favorable wind conditions.

“It has two real good airflow patterns that are just perfect,” he said. “One is the cool breeze off the Pacific and then the warm breezes from the desert. It’s a double whammy, versus all hot or cold.”

The soil composition was also ideal given 30 years of fertilization as a golf property.

Maness said he’s been approached by course owners over the years about growing grapes but hadn’t had any takers until the drought worsened.

“It’s a novel concept … one that the drought finally put into play,” he said. “It’s innovative thinking, and it increases the property value and gives you usable product at the end.”

The novelty factor and eventual aesthetics are ideal benefits too.

“It’s an elegant low-water plant and the beauty of looking at the vines is captivating to people,” he said.

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All that can be seen of the vines at present are a few green leaves peeking out the top of a plastic sleeve that protects them from pests (rabbits, gophers, etc.) and acts as a greenhouse to nurture the vine as well as gives the plant guidance to grow vertically.

“Those plants have to grow in; they’re just getting started,” Radchenko said. “We will for sure have grapes next year, but the real bounty is years three and four.”

The question now turns to what can the club become.

The course renovation came after ownership purchased Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, a private course. The two courses are now being cross promoted under a combined premier membership.

Taylor said the Bear Creek purchase also played into the decision to upgrade Steele Canyon.

“We’re trying to create a dual branding where the members here can play there and vice versa. And we wanted to elevate this course to be comparable to Bear Creek.”

The two courses are very different playing experiences. Bear Creek is wooded and tight, while Steele Canyon is much more open and offers dramatic elevation change.

One cool aspect of the pairing is that Bear Creek is a signature Jack Nicklaus course and Steele Canyon is a signature Gary Player design.

“Both courses cater to better players,” Taylor said, “and we consider ourselves very lucky to have two premier golf courses.”

Steele Canyon aspired to be a private club in 1991 when it opened, but it never quite achieve that status. But the renovated and rebranded club has renewed local interest, Taylor said, and memberships are again on the rise.

Radchenko said the club depends on local play, but also benefits from being just 20 minutes east of downtown San Diego.

“We have a strong relationship with the local business community downtown,” he said. “We do a lot of tournament rounds that are from convention business.”

The course’s most popular nine is the Canyon nine, which, as the name suggests, winds between two canyons. It features three stunning and challenging par 3s all involving elevation – up and down.

The Ranch nine also begins with elevation change and plays its way around a working ranch.

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Taylor said holes on both nines were renovated to elevate the playing experience even more. All 94 bunkers on the course were also refilled with Caltega white sand to enhance the visual impact.

The work began last May and was completed in Dec. Taylor said the money spent already has been worth it long before the first cork will pop from the new vineyard.

“On Canyon and Ranch, we took some of the tee boxes up another level. The tees we added really enhanced the visual experience,” he said. “We’re really pleased with what (the construction company) did.”

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Steele Canyon By The Numbers

1991 –
The year it opened as an 18-hole Gary Player signature course

1994 –
The year the third nine (Meadow) was added

35 – Acres of turf removed in 2015

1,200 – Wine vines planted in the reduced area

2,400-3,600 –
Expected eventual annual yield in bottles of wine

2 – Types of grapes being grown

9 – Number of new tees added during the renovation

3 – Number of par 3s on the Canyon nine

behind No. 3

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The RanchLB: Touring The Treehouse Suite

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The luxurious and secluded Treehouse suite at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is nested high above the grounds overlooking the No. 1 green and surrounded by windows – a perfect honeymoon stay, family vacation destination, or memorable couples resort solution.

The two-bedroom, three-bathroom, 1,600 square-foot suite offers an expansive wrap-around deck, full gourmet kitchen, living and dining space, and floor to ceiling windows. Also, included is the specialty Treehouse Gazebo for entertaining or personal enjoyment. Views from this perch are nothing short of dreamy!

Amenities:

master bed

– Master Bedroom – King Bed and Full Bathroom (Oversized walk-in shower and dual vanities)

– Guest Bedroom – Queen Bed and Full Bathroom (Shower/Tub combination)

kitchen

– Full gourmet kitchen, including: stove, oven, microwave, espresso machine and refrigerator

– Full bathroom with Shower (Downstairs)

– Dedicated Ranch Hand to assist with guest needs

– Exclusive use of a four-person personal Golf Cart

– Complimentary beach gear upon request, including chairs and umbrella

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– Access to adjoining Gazebo

– Personally monogrammed robe

– Signature Ranch bedding and Italian linens

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– Tuvalu-designed coastal ranch estate quality furnishings

– In-room coffee machine with a selection of coffee and tea

– State-of-the-art technology, including complimentary high speed Wi-Fi, 3 LCD TVs (49″ – 48″), universal charging station for phones and tablets

– Twice-daily housekeeping, including turndown service

– A refrigerator stocked with beverages and snacks daily

– Each guest receives a monogrammed robe to keep

patio

– A plush private patio that seats 4 to 6 comfortably

– Key Card Gate access to the Treehouse

– Complimentary valet/self-parking.

– No resort fee.

Go to www.theranchlb.com to reserve.

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The Treehouse at The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The story in Southland Golf: www.southlandgolf.com/articles/work-386-laguna-resort.html

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is on the back nine of its plan to become the coolest nine-hole resort course in the country.

More than two years of renovation and construction will finally come to an end this summer (May/June) when project opens its remaining guest rooms, spa and the building housing its Harvest restaurant, front desk and banquet and ballroom spaces. The de facto Presidential Suite, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Treehouse – the remodeled former course owners’ home overlooking the No. 1 green – come online in Feb.

The Ranch debuted its first 62 hotel rooms last summer. While operating with those rooms, a patio to host breakfast and lunch, a pool, a pantry, a golf shop and the course, the resort has rocketed up the local rankings on Trip Advisor, reports Jim Tolbert, The RanchLB’s Director of Sales Marketing.

“We up to No. 5 (out of 22 resorts/hotels) in Laguna on Trip Advisor,” Tolbert said, “and that’s with only half the resorted completed during our preview period. Everything we’ve opened has been very well received.”

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Tolbert said the original preview goal for The Ranch’s marketing was to expand its tourist draw to a 150-mile radius to complement its strong local following. He said the property has already exceeded that goal and gone global.

“We’re getting people from all over,” he said. “We’ve had people from Germany to Great Britain to Arizona, and we had many folks from the East Coast over the holidays.”

After making a turn off the Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna and taking a quarter-mile drive east from the ocean, guests are greeted by a vast expanse of canyon. That’s the scenic corridor that surrounds the winding nine-hole course.

Tolbert says guests are awed by the unexpected beauty of the canyon first and the rooms, decorated in a coastal ranch and beach cottage theme with a lot of local flavor, such as artwork of Laguna, complete the dazzling first impression.

“They walk into the room, their mouths open and their eyes get wide,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch peoples’ reaction to this place.”

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The final plan to renovate the former Laguna Beach country club was approved by city officials in April of 2014. The clean-up and restoration of the course, built in the 1950s and suffering from neglect, was the first priority.

The course has enjoyed a strong local golf following for decades and caterers to all levels of players – and couples. (The course held a Valentine’s tournament in February.)

To foster a golf culture at the property, free 15- and 30-minute lessons are offered.

One of the beauties of having a nine-hole course, Tolbert said, is that it’s inviting to first-timers and plays fast at a time when time (slow play) is an issue at many courses nationwide.

“Golf is part of the culture of the place and the guest experience,” he said. “Our course isn’t intimidating so people should feel comfortable giving golf a try.”

The course is among the most walkable anywhere and offers a mix of par 3s and 4s and the discovery of wildlife, including deer midway through your round, along the way.

Besides golf, the resort has become a big dining draw for the food as well as the canyon views, Tolbert said. He notes that a number of menu ingredients will be grown on site at the Harvest Garden.

“It’s American-style cuisine using fresh California ingredients. We supplement the menu with things grown in the garden here on property,” he said. “Every dish is full of flavor and the items themselves are relatively simple but technically perfect.”

Tolbert praised the talents and creativity of chefs Camron Woods and Mary Catherine Woods.

Tolbert said the opening of the Harvest restaurant will only boost The RanchLB’s reputation as a local dining and social destination and make the resort even more formidable in the competitive local market.

“It’s going to be the coolest resort in Orange County for sure.”

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View of the Treehouse from the course

March Southland

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Maderas: Golfers, Start Your Golfboards

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Maderas Golf Club is proud to announce it has reached an agreement with Golfboard to be one of the first to provide the surfboard-like scooters to golfers in San Diego and Southern California.

Golfboard premiered two years ago at the West Coast PGA Show as an alternate way for golfers to traverse and experience golf courses in a style similar to surfing, skating or snowboarding. It has steadily gained traction and now Maderas will be one of 150 courses nationwide, and the first Troon course in California, to host the boards.

Golfboard will be available by the end of February at a rental rate of $20. There will initially be four boards available. The battery-powered boards can be reserved at the time of with making a tee time reservation. For advance reservations, please call the golf shop at 858.451.8100. Renters will be required to sign a standard insurance waiver.

Maderas Golf Club General Manager Michael Flickinger said course officials are counting on the novelty factor of Golfboard to draw new golfers.

“Maderas is committed to growing the game of golf, and we believe this will bring more young people into golf, particularly in Southern California, because it’s a vehicle they’re comfortable with, and it makes the game faster and more fun,” he said. “We see this an exciting new way for golfers to experience the game.”

Golfboard Representative Brent Duclos said bringing Golfboard to a Golf Digest Top 100 public course only further validates the vehicle’s value to the sport.

“Golfboard is ecstatic to work with Maderas, which is continually one of the top-rated public courses in the country,” Duclos said. “Not only will Maderas be one of the best places to play golf in Southern California, it will also be one of the best places to Golfboard! The undulating fairways coupled with majestic canyon views provide for a perfect Golfboarding canvas.

“The decision to host Golfboarding shows that Maderas is committed to providing the best all-around golfing experience for their patrons.”

Maderas will be the second course in San Diego to host Golfboard, on which clubs are caddied on the front and secured by a strap, similar as on a golf cart.

The process for Golfboard being considered at Maderas began with Director of Golf Hale Kelly riding it around the entire course for a safety check. Then came the National Golf Course Owners Association annual meeting, which Maderas hosted and where Golfboard held a demo day on two holes of the course. The enthusiastic and complimentary response of fellow owners helped sway Maderas’ ownership that Golfboard’s time had arrived.

Flickinger said Golfboard will have a high profile at Maderas and will be demonstrated frequently and upon request. It also fits Maderas’ overall intention to represent the Southern California lifestyle, which it does all the way down to the locally sourced items on its menu.

Flickinger said of Golfboard, “It’s a great lifestyle fit for a lifestyle sport.”

Questions or interview requests about Golfboard at Maderas can be directed to Maderas Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media Corey Ross at cross@maderasgolf.com. You can find more information about Golfboard at www.golfboard.com. You can also find videos from the demo day at our Instagram account (@maderasgolf).

Southland: CrossCreek Course Overview

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The “hidden” part of being a hidden gem is literally true when it comes to CrossCreek Golf Club in Temecula.

Located west of Old Town Temecula and its mountain backdrop, one wouldn’t immediately deduce a golf course resides on the other side – but one does, and it’s a beaut.

The course occupies the lowlands between the mountain surrounds and provides a rolling prairie golf type experience, akin to something you might be see in the Midwest. The course winds in and out of a forest and provides a pleasant progression of holes.

While off the beaten path, it’s the type of that one that when golfers discover it, CrossCreek Director of Golf David Garner says, they tend to come back.

“It’s a unique location and a very unique golf course,” he says. “We got a lot of comments where people say they didn’t know we were out here, but they love it when they see it.”

The benefit of the remote location is a secluded, solitary and exclusive golf experience. The drawback, from a marketing standpoint, is the need to advertise a bit more than most to raise the course’s profile against a bevy of courses in the area located off the I-15.

“We try to drive home the message of no homes, no freeways, no noise – just pristine golf,” he says.

One advantage Cross Creek has in the winter, Garner says, is having grass that doesn’t go dormant. That gives the course an edge when competing against courses whose Bermuda has gone brown for the winter.

“Us and Journey at Pechanga are the only ones in the area that don’t go dormant,” he says. “That makes us a great winter course.”

And more than just a local secret, Garner says Cross Creek successfully pulls golfers from Orange County and San Diego who are seeking a unique and affordable golf experience.

Locally, the course tries to catch attention by partnering with and promoting the thriving and rapidly evolving Temecula wine county.

Just as the wineries each have their niches and specialties, so does Cross Creek. Its best asset is a course experience, designed by Arthur Hills, that’s unlike any in the immediate market.

“You’re out in the wilderness and every hole is unique,” Garner said. “There are no copy-cat holes here.”

There layout opens with a pair of forested, mid-length par 4s before coming to a par 3 with a forest-framed green involving a creek carry.

The front is fairly flat, besides the severely elevated par-3 8th, before giving way to a more undulating back nine.

The signature hole is the par 3 17th, another hole featuring a creek carry to a forested-surrounded green that is set off in its own amphitheater. From the blue tees, it’s a pitching wedge approach at most, but the yardages stretches to 170 yards from the blacks.

“It’s probably the best shot on the course,” Garner said, adding that the hole is currently being aesthetically enhanced. “It’s a challenge because the green narrows as it moves to the right, but it’s the most beautiful backdrop on the course.”

There’s room to miss long, making it a bit more forgiving that it might present from the tee, but a birdie putt is the preferred outcome when you cross the wooden bridge to the green. The holes provides a bit of a breather after a challenging pair of par 4s.

The trifecta in that group is No. 18, the closing par 4. It involves a placement tee shot to an elevated fairway to an approach descent that presents challenges gauging distance and line of play for first-timers.

“It frustrates first-timers because they don’t know where to place their tee shot,” he says. “And the last shot is over trees and brush. It’s a great hole to close with a little money on the line.”

And it concludes a round at a course whose quality customer service and pristine play are likely to get you to tee it up again.

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Southland: North Course Renovation Finally On Tap For Torrey

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After three years of discussion and preparation, the North Course at Torrey Pines is finally having its date with a bulldozer in 2016.

The renovation is set to begin days after the Farmers Insurance Open and is slated to take six months to complete.

Tom Weiskopf, a PGA Tour veteran who had his first tour win at Torrey in 1968, and his design group are set to execute the redesign plan originally awarded to Phil Mickelson. City of San Diego Golf Operations Manager Mark Marney says the core concepts of the plan remain intact with only subtle differences in Weiskopf’s execution as opposed to Mickelson’s.

“There were core things we wanted to have and then it came down to what we could afford,” Marney said of a project that’s tabbed to between $12.6 million.

The core objectives are: Rebuilt, enlarged and re-contoured greens; new greenside and fairway bunkers; a cart path system; and a new irrigation and pumping system.

Players shouldn’t find the course tougher, Marney said, and some will find it more accessible.

“The course isn’t getting any longer, and we’re rebuilding a few tee boxes and adding an extra set of forward tees,” he said.

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Increases in difficulty and cost have been the primary concerns expressed by locals, some of whom play up to 150 rounds a year at Torrey. For them, the North is reprieve from the challenges of the tougher South Course, site of the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Opens.

“For a lot of them, it’d be pretty brutal to play the South all the time,” he said. “The North is a little more forgiving and we have players who prefer that.”

Marney said Torrey hasn’t raised its rates in five years and any future in case won’t be tied to the construction costs.

The North hosts between 80,000 and 85,000 a year – nearly 20,000 more than the South – and Marney said was long overdue for an update of the original William Bell design.

Amateur and professional players will benefit, Marney said, as the North is used during the first two days of the Farmers Insurance Open. During the tournament, the North on average plays three strokes easier than the South, a gap Marney said the new North course will be able to close if tournament officials choose.

“They’ll have an opportunity to pick some pin positions that will make it as tough as they want to make it,” he said. “But I’m not sure Tour players want us to close that gap. They like having the chance to go over to the North and shoot something lower and make hay when the sun shines.”

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As much of their play, Marney is look forward the Tour players’ reviews of the new North at the Farmers in 2017. Lots of dirt and sand will be moved between now and then – and possibly water. An El Nino winter could hamper construction, but Marney said delaying the project again wasn’t an option.

“Every time we delay, the construction costs increase. If we put it off again, the costs could’ve gone up another 10 percent,” he said. “Next year is uncertain too. We need to plan and be as ready as we can be.”

The project is scheduled to be done months before the 2017 Farmers. That’ll provide time for the course to round into shape, and sodding instead of seeding the greens is being done to expedite the conversion, Marney said.

“That’ll give us a finished green surface sooner but there are some risks involved,” he said. “We’ll have to put in extra work to make sure we don’t get a build up of organic material in the sodded greens, and we’ll have time to fix other construction scars.”

Overall, Marney said after years of delay, Torrey is finally poised to successfully give birth to a new North.

“We’ve got a good plan and a great designer and contractor who understand what we’re looking for,” he said. “I’m excited about the time a year when we’ll finally have the big unveiling.”

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

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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.

http://www.maderasgolf.com/The-Maderas-2016-Farmers-Insura.blog

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