Tag Archives: Fred Couples

Maderas: Premiercaddie.org at Maderas – Course Expertise and Confidence at Your Service for Hire

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Editor’s note: This post also appears on the blog at www.maderasgolf.com.
Also for a related read, scroll down a few posts to read a ranking of the most walkable courses in San Diego

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Learning the nuances and proper plays of any golf course, and particularly one as undulating as Maderas Golf Club, takes time and is usually knowledge acquired over numerous rounds.

One way to expedite the process, however, is to outsource it by hiring a caddy.

Maderas is part of a group of San Diego courses that makes caddie services available to its guests through a partnership with premiercaddie.org.

Premier Caddie is owned by former UCLA golfers and experienced Southern California caddies Chad Beckley and Joel Tabachnick. Their staff of nearly 50, some of whom has their PGA card, caddies primarily at Maderas, Torrey Pines, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar Country Club and Rancho Santa Fe Country Club, but can also be requested to work other area courses.

Beckley and Tabachnick founded their company two years ago with a mission of enhancing the service and experience for golfers on area courses and have been happily looping weekly rounds ever since.

Beckley’s particular caddying career grew from a love and talent for reading greens, he says.

“I’ve always read greens really well and that helped me get into caddying, which has honed my skills even more,” he says. “Caddying, for me, is extension of the playing experience that provides you another perspective on the game.

“Doing it made me fall in the love with the area courses all over again.”

That love has produced a thriving business. Beckley says Premier Caddie staffs around 200 rounds a month and is seeking to expand its course client base. The company staffs both recreational and competitive rounds as well as private events.

Beckley is a great promoter of the caddie experience and the benefits of hiring one.

“There’s no real relationship in sports like a caddie relationship,” he says. “A caddie can give you a confidence and comfort level on the course you may not have known before.

“That can help you score lower, or just have a better experience. For instance, if you’re going back and forth on the wind, or a yardage, or a putt, the caddie can give you the reassurance you need to commit to that play.”

And Beckley says that sometimes a play that, especially an amateur, wouldn’t make on his or her own.

“A lot of amateur golfers are timid,” he says. “For example, I’m an aggressive short-game player. A lot of amateurs don’t attack the golf course the way that I do, but I can give you the confidence to play that way.

“At a minimum, the caddie gives you another way to think about the course.”

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The difficulty of putting Maderas’ large, undulating greens and the wide variety of shot options on some tee shots are a course reasons a caddie can be a great aid at Maderas, but neither of those are Beckley’s primary reason.

“The course plays a lot differently depending on speed, which varies there. If it’s fast and firm, you need a lot of knowledge to be able to go low there partly because the greens have so much slope and undulation,” he says. “And if it’s windy, which is there almost every day, the right play there can go a long way.”

Beckley says a caddie experience at Maderas is a great complement to the service experience.

“Their customer service is amazing from the top down there, so the partnership has been seamless.”

Not every caddie customer is looking to shoot a number, Beckley says. He says some just want a competent guide, or even a good friend, on the course.

“Resort caddying and competitive caddying are completely different, but for both the customer-service aspect is the main thing,” he says. “We have a lot of customers who just want to have a good time and get to know you over those 4 ½ hours. A good caddie is able to tell a few jokes and be able to relate to people.

“A lot of times they just want to get to know you and learn from your experience.”

Making the most of a caddie experience, Beckley says, is making the caddie aware of your expectation.

“When you hire a caddie, be very upfront,” he says. “The caddie isn’t just there to be there. He’s going to club you right and read the greens, and it’s your job to let him know he’s doing a good job.

“Or if you don’t want them to do something, like read greens, you’ve got to let them know that too. It’s as much a friendship as a partnership, so treat them like a friend.”

And friends share stories, which caddies also seem to have a ready supply of, especially about famous clients.

Among others, Beckley has caddied for professional golfers (Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples), professional baseball players (David Wells, Bobby Bonilla), professional football players (Kyle Boller), professional basketball players (Jordan Farmar) and … the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

One of the best non-PGA players? Professional hockey player Jeremy Roenick.

“Heck of a player,” he says. “Hockey players always have that nice takeaway and stay down through impact.”

Another of Beckley’s caddie testimonials comes from last year’s Farmers Insurance Open. Despite hitting 18 of 18 greens, Beckley’s player didn’t make the cut. He suggested a putter grip change to the player after the tournament.

“Being confident enough to make a suggestion to one of the best golfers in the world takes some guts,” he says, “but that’s part of the job. You’re there to help the player in any way you can.”

The levels of caddying service vary (a regular caddie or a fore caddie, for instance), but Beckley says a standard rate at Maderas is $160 to carry two bags and $115 for one. A standard gratuity is $100-plus.

Caddies can be booked as far as advance as you like, Beckley says, or at little as 24-hour notice.

And while you may ride during your round at Maderas, Beckley will walk, which he says is a good workout always, but especially at Maderas.

“It’s a pretty good walk,” he says, with a chuckle. “But walking is good for you and it gives you different perspective on the game.”

Maderas General Manager Bill O’Brien says Premier Caddie has provided a consistently excellent experience to golfers at the course, and he extols the virtues of the service.

“The caddie experience really enhances a round of golf,” O’Brien says. “Most of us, regardless of our abilities, day dream about what playing golf inside the ropes might feel like. Taking a caddy is the closest to that experience most will get. It’s so worth it.

“The memories tied to a round of golf with a caddy are some of my favorite.”

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The Story Behind My Masters Ball

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      Masters fever has officially set in. Seeing as I can’t watch it yet, I can at least write about it, and this will be brief because I’ve only got one story to tell. It’s about the ball pictured above.

      The photo above probably leads you to believe I have been to the Masters. Sadly, I have not. The closest I’ve been is that souvenir ball, which a grateful and generous story subject gave to me after I wrote about his trip to Augusta. The significance of the story was that my friend had gone to the Masters and thus completed his own Grand Slam by having attended all four majors.

      At the time, that made him the coolest person on the planet to me, so I wrote about him for the travel section of the magazine I edited at the time. I now know many people who’ve made the hallowed journey, but at the time, he was about the only one. He told the usual stories about the landscape being so pristine it didn’t seem real, about the iconic Butler Cabin clubhouse and about eating a pimento sandwich. (For the record, that’s now two pimento sandwich references in the blog. Who ever saw that coming?)

      Anyway, the story I remember most is about him attending a day where they had a split start due to weather, meaning one round needed to be finished before the next could begin. He staked out Amen Corner and watched like five or six groups come through, as I recall, and each group had player put a ball in the water on the par-3 12th, where famously Fred Couples’ ball resisted that fate and basic physics during his victory in 2002.

     The detail I recall most is that after the groups came through, prior to the third round, the landscape crews who’d shaved the bank that morning, about 90 minutes after doing so the first time came out and shaved the bank … again. To anyone who knows about course set up, this is rather commonplace, but back then it just seemed a juicy detail and fun and part of the lore of Augusta.

    The story ended with my friend noting a player in each of the first six groups of the next round each went in the water. And that was that. I don’t keep much of my old stuff, but that’s one story I kinda of wish I still had hanging around. Oh, well. I’ve still got the ball. And now a blog post.

     Is it Thursday yet?

Highlight Hole: No. 5 at Monarch Beach

ImageThe green view of No. 5. Photo courtesy of Monarch Beach.

Holes No. 3 and 4, the ocean holes at Monarch Beach in Dana Point, are the highlight of any round at this Ritz-Carlton resort course, and deservedly so.

Both holes – the short dogleg par-4 played toward the ocean, followed by a mid-length par-3 away – make wonderful and memorable use of the landscape to provide the epitome of the ocean-side golf experience. Standing on the tee at No. 3, you can see the ocean and nearly hear the waves crashing to provide the sort of spine-tingling golf experience only a select group of California courses can deliver.

They’re relatively easy holes (the Nos. 17 and 15 handicap, respectively), but that’s no criticism because going double-double here would be kind of a buzzkill.

What follows is a long par-3 that welcomes you back from your two-hole golf vacation with a rude reality check to kick off what I think is the toughest stretch of the course. Holes 5, 6 (par-4) and 7 (par-5) can send your scorecard up in flames and have you thumbing through camera phone photos of the ocean holes reminiscing about the good old days of your round before you even make the turn.

No. 5 plays 193 yards from the gold tees and 217 from the tips and has a beauty-and-the-beast complex.

First, the beauty. You’ve got Monarch’s palatial clubhouse as a backdrop and a pond with a fountain on the right. Sand traps frame the hole on the left (you’ll notice this one’s shaped liked a butterfly as many on the course are) and back right.

It’s a gorgeous golf hole and would likely be the signature hole on many other courses and possibly here were it not for the holes that precede it.

The course GPS tells you that Fred Couples regards this as one of his favorite par-3s, and one of the toughest.

Now, the beast. The length alone is a test, but if there’s wind, it’s likely to be at your back – although I’ve played it into the wind, which I’ll discuss in a bit – so wind isn’t a huge issue here. The green is.

The green is tiered and severely sloped. When the pin is front right, you’ve got to challenge the water to get close and then hope you don’t reach the top tier, because the putt downhill is like trying to stop a bullet train.

So a solid tee shot sometimes isn’t a guarantee of anything here. Placement is critical. And as you can imagine, chipping into this green is a risky proposition as well when the pin is near the pond.

I’ll always remember the first time I played this hole. I had just moved out and discovered Monarch by catching a glimpse of it from the PCH. Not knowing the quality of the course I stumbled into, I was blown away just standing in the pro shop.

I had a solid round, with my tee shot on No. 5 being the highlight. I fired safely at the left side of the green and watched the ball climb the slope, trail right across the top of the green and do a u-turn to gentle settle in 6 feet from the pin. I like to think of that has my Fred Couples moment.

My two return trips have mostly been successful here, but I’ve watched other golfers playing this hole for the first time blow-up, usually helplessly watching their tee shot drift right into the drink.

I played Monarch last November for my birthday and experienced it under windy conditions for the first time. It put some serious teeth into a few holes, especially the par-3s.

While warming up for my round, I noted the wind and deduced that No. 5 would be playing into it. Anticipating clubbing up one or even two, I took some warm-up swings with my 3-iron, and the practice paid off.

Monarch doesn’t have a range, but I suggest hitting a few into the net with your long irons to prepare you for No. 5 so you’ll hopefully have a pretty number on your scorecard to go along with those pretty pictures you just took of the ocean.