Category Archives: U.S. Open

May Southland: Golf & Go Coastal Cruises

May Southland

Golf fans attending the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in June will arrive by land, air and now even sea thanks to a new Orange County golf cruise company.

Golf and Go Coastal Cruises is booking two sailings with itineraries that include stops at Chambers Bay during the tournament. Other cruises they are offering up until the Open include stopping to play Chambers Bay.

Golf & Go owner Jamie Austin says there’s a lot of excitement around Chambers since it’s a new U.S. Open venue. According to Austin, a similar cruise to the British Open last year sold out in two weeks.

“It’ll be interesting to see if it sells out as fast as the British Open,” she says. “We’ve had lots of calls. And to be able to golf it around the same time is just as fun.

“It’s a beautiful course. You won’t be disappointed.”

Founded last year, Golf & Go is the only American cruise company specializing in golf cruises, which are more common in Europe, Austin says.

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The company, based in Laguna Hills, has partnered with elite courses up and down the West Coast – Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Spyglass Hill, Half Moon Bay, to name a few – to combine world-class golf and destination for trips of three, four, seven and nine days for groups of 50 or 60 per ship. Their destinations range all the way from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to Ensenada, Mexico.

Having the U.S. Open on the West Coast this year is a unique opportunity for the company and golf fans, Austin says.

“We’ll have tickets available for your guests,” she says. “And the great thing about going via cruise is that you don’t have to worry about staying and finding a hotel. You just go, get back on the ship and resume your cruise.”

And you’re likely tee it up the next day. The cruises are designed to be golf-intensive, although they also offer itineraries for non-golfing spouses as well.

A teaching pro travels with each group to provide, among other things, on-ship instruction utilizing the last teaching technology – swing simulators, etc. Celebrity cruise lines even has a ship with an upper deck comprised of natural turf to allow for short game and putting practice.

The touring pro also accompanies the golfers to the course and monitors their progress.

“They are there as mentors and want to help you,” Austin says. “They’ll help you figure out what works and what doesn’t to try to help improve your game.

“Getting yourself more into golf is what the golf cruise is all about. And you don’t have to think about anything else. When you get off the ship, your clubs are waiting for you.”

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Austin has always been into golf, but not so much into cruising. Austin is a cruise convert, which says makes her an ideal promoter of the experience because she understands the objections and misconceptions.

“I was asked to go on a cruise several times and kept saying no. I didn’t like the claustrophobic thought of being stuck on a ship with a bunch of people I didn’t know,” she says. “Those are the things that stick in your mind when you’re not a cruiser and you don’t understand it.”

A trip to the Caribbean completely changed her perspective.

“It was a real eye-opener,” Austin says. “It was so much different than I expected.”

Among other things, the quality of the food and the level of activity far exceeded Austin’s expectations. She noted that it’s now common for wine tastings, cooking classes, shopping trips, and dancing and fitness classes to be part of cruise itineraries.

The primary concern the Golf & Go faces about a golf cruise is how to accommodate a spouse who doesn’t golf. Austin says this is addressed through a separate itinerary that combines ship activities and opportunities in the port cities.

“We work on itineraries through conversations with the group and through research of what’s going on at the port city, be it tours, festivals, concerts or whatever else might be going on at the time,” she says.

“We want to take advantage of everything our destinations have to offer, be it on the course, the ship or in the city.”

Golf & Golf is looking forward to offering the best both the golf and cruises industries have to offer. In particular, Austin hand-picked the courses the golfers will play.

“We chose these courses because I know people who’ve played them and I gathered a lot of information beforehand,” Austin says. “We’re excited to offer these courses to our clients and take them there on ships that are rich and luxurious.”

For more information on Golf & Go Coastal cruises, go to www.golfngocruises.com. To a book a cruise, contact Jamie Austin at 800.494.4067 or Jamie@golfngocruises.com.

JC Golf: Daniel Miernicki Endures A Tough Torrey Pines In Farmers Debut

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Daniel Miernicki with caddie Ben Itterman, left, and father Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks.

Daniel Miernicki has played hundreds of rounds at Torrey Pines but never one like Thursday.

Under the spotlight of the PGA Tour and amidst course conditions akin to a U.S. Open, Miernicki made his Farmers Insurance Open debut. He had his moments but the South Course had a few more as it took four strokes from him after he shot even par through 11 holes. He finished with a four-over-par 76 heading into his second round on Friday on the easier North Course.

Miernicki, an All-American at the University of Oregon, Monday qualified with a 65 at El Camino Country Club and carried that momentum to the first hole Thursday. He blasted his opening drive 40 yards past his playing partners and then hit his approach into the green slope and watched it settle five feet below the hole. He converted for birdie for a stellar start to his round.

He gave that shot back when he missed the green right on the par 3 3rd and couldn’t get up and down. A birdie on the par 3 8th would be his only other birdie of the day.

Miernicki made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, the toughest stretch of the course, to let shooting par slip away. He then had consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. The rough in particular was thick and unforgiving as part of a course set up similar to last year, which many dubbed the toughest Farmers course ever.

Miernicki said the course conditions wore him down a bit.

“The course is really hard, and I struggled a little at the end. Maybe I got a little tired because it’s been such a long week. But it was fun,” he said.

“It was a good start, and I didn’t play that poorly. It was just a tough day. And it’s unlike playing any other event with all the people out.”

Miernicki had only one practice round prior to the tourney. That showed particularly, he said, on the greens.

“I struggled with the green speeds for sure,” he said, “and that’s something that’s just tough to prepare for.”

But Miernicki felt confident that going four- or five-under on the North on Friday would have him in contention to make the cut for the weekend.

“I feel good that I’ll have a chance to make up some strokes,” he said. “The North sets up better for me off the tee.”

Miernicki’s gallery included his father, Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks. He called the day and week, overall, “as good as it gets.”

“I thought he was fabulous,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

FIO Course Report: “The Best Farmers Course Ever”

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A year ago, a mild winter made for ideal course conditions at Torrey Pines and allowed for a U.S. Open-like set up.

This year timely rains and mild weather again made for optimal conditions and have resulted in what City of San Diego Course Superintendent Paul Cushing says is “the best Farmers course ever.”

Cushing forecasted a winning score again in the single digits. A year ago, Scott Stallings shot a 68 on Sunday to score a one-shot victory at nine-under.

“The rain really helped with our rough. We have incredible rough. We’ve had to mow it twice already,” Cushing said.
“It’s just going to be great conditions out there this week.”

A few of the pros commented that it was the toughest Torrey set up they’ve seen. Tiger Woods, in particular, noted the green speeds.

“I was shocked at the green speeds,” he said after the Wed. pro-am. “They’re usually not set up this fast.”

Should make for another week of a tight leaderboard and possibly another horse-race Sunday finish.

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

USGA Names Torrey Pines Golf Course As 2021 U.S. Open Championship SiteTP3

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.


The U.S. Open Returns to Torrey Pines in 2021

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Just wanted to get something up about the big news of the golf day out here – the U.S. Open returning to Torrey Pines in 2021.

This is huge news and long anticipated, basically ever since Tiger Woods’ last putt dropped on his epic sudden-death victory in 2008, which, as we all know well, is his last major victory. I’ve got a post coming about the aura of the 2008 U.S. Open and how it still shines at Torrey every day, but for now I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the new hottest piece of golf gear in SoCal as of, oh, 1 p.m. today.

Traffic to the pro shop should be picking up any minute now. A great and well-deserved day at Torrey and for Southern California golf. Congrats to all the staff members who worked hard for years to make this happen for San Diego.

More thoughts on all of this to come.