Tag Archives: Golf

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FORE Magazine: Meet TaylorMade’s Vice President of Product Creation Brian Bazzel

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Editor’s note: Here’s my profile of TaylorMade’s Brian Bazzel for the winter issue of FORE Magazine. I’ll post a digital link when one comes available.

How much further can you go? It’s the question on everyone’s mind at TaylorMade Golf. Whether it’s referring to such things as golf ball distance limits or other technology thresholds, Brian Bazzel has been hearing some version of the question ever since the first day he started in the research department of TaylorMade nearly 18 years ago.

And for that entire time, TaylorMade has had answers, sometimes coming from Bazzel himself as he’s worked his way through nearly every department of product creation. Now, with his recent promotion to vice president of product creation, he’ll expected to have more answers than ever.

“We hear that question every year. And it’s a great question,” says the man known as “Baz” to his co-workers. “But believe it or not there are always places you can go. There are always opportunities and doors that are open to improve upon our products despite the restrictions and regulations that are put upon us.

“Sometimes when you plow throw one door of innovation, it’s like one or two more open that you couldn’t see before. Something you thought that before was impossible now is possible and you set a new goal. I’ve seen a lot of that, especially the last two or three years.”

Recent breakthroughs have produced such category leaders as the multi-material M2 Driver and the Spider Putter made popular by Jason Day. As 2018 and a new equipment season dawns, Bazzel promises more game-changing breakthroughs to come – but he isn’t tipping his hand just yet.

“We have some incredible technologies coming out that I can’t wait to tell the world about,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant year.”

In a way, it has already begun. The new equipment has already been tried and tested by TaylorMade’s armada of Tour pros. Their feedback and input is a major source of inspiration for future TaylorMade product, so their buy-in and belief is critical, Bazzel said.

Thus presenting product to Tour pros being Bazzel’s most nervous moment of the year.

“It’s like your baby being born,” Bazzel said. “It’s the moment of truth.”

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That moment can be three to five or even more years in the making. That’s how far out TaylorMade’s product planning and R & D extends. In actually, though, a product’s life truly begins 2 years out when it’s put into a planning and production cycle.

Now more than ever, Bazzel, like an NFL general manager planning a draft, will be the one making those selections.

“We have several ideas that are 3-5 years out, but you only have so many people and so much time so you have to choose correctly,” he explained. “Some of those ideas will never see the light of day but you hope that most of them will.

“Two years to 18 months is when we get really serious about a product.”

Bazzel is uniquely positioned to make those decisions in that at one time or another, he’s worked in every equipment category at TaylorMade, but upon announcing Bazzel’s promotion, TaylorMade CEO David Abeles especially lauded Baz’s work in metalwoods.

“For five years, Brian has been the driving force behind our metalwoods product creation team, creating groundbreaking products that have invigorated the industry,” Abeles said. “His vision has helped position TaylorMade as the industry leader in metalwoods innovation and performance.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that under his guidance the TaylorMade brand will continue to see exceptional growth and forge a lasting position as an industry leader across all product categories.”

Bazzel developed his knack for product design after a stint of playing competitively and then caddying. Bazzel played high school golf in Rancho Bernardo before going on to play at Division III UC-San DiegoSD, where the team captured third in the NCAAs once during his playing days. Bazzel competed in SCGA amateurs and on the mini tours before taking a caddy gig at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe.

A caddy client noted Bazzel’s knowledge and knack for the game and suggested a career in the industry. Armed with his playing experience and an electrical engineering degree, Bazzel embarked on a career with TaylorMade.

Bazzel’s love for the game was fostered by his step father, a scratch golfer. His influence has carried over to Bazzel’s design career in that he’s the audience Bazzel says he has in mind when he’s creating a product.

“When I think of an authentic golfer, I think of him,” he said.

Bazzel said his love for the equipment side of the game came later in his playing days, but he recalls clearly his first real set of clubs, which were TaylorMade irons he purchased at age 13 with money earned washing dishes.

“They were long irons, foam-filled, Tour-preferred,” he says with a smile. “I paid $300 and sold them for what I paid them. I wish I still had them.

“I was proud to have them and eager to hit them.”

That’s the emotion Bazzel seeks to conjure now each year from golfers.

Thanks to advances in technology, the process of product creation has changed drastically during Bazzel’s time at TaylorMade, but the process of gathering ideas remains largely the same, he said. He keeps his eyes and ears open at all times, he said, especially when talking to Tour players.

“You find inspiration everywhere,” he said. “The ideas we have implement can come from anywhere. You’re always listening for insights, especially when we’re talking to our PGA professionals from around the world.

“But we have to be within the game and close to the game at all times so we hear those things.”

The objective for the staff of 15 that Bazzel now oversees is clear, he said.

“We ultimately want to have the deepest understanding of what golfers want and then also have the deepest understanding of what our brightest minds have come up with it,” he said. “Then you want to align those two things and hopefully surprise them at times.

But for all the planning and research, Bazzel says it’s sometimes the staff who ends up getting surprised, as was the case with the Spider Red mallet putter that Jason Day rode to world No. 1 and has become popular on Tour.

Day requested a few design tweaks to the original model, Bazzel said, adding that the red color choice was Day’s entirely, a decision that he says initially drew skeptical glances from the staff.

“It looked a little different and a little funny,” Bazzel said. “But then he starts make every putt on the planet and suddenly we can’t make them fast enough.

“So for all the planning we do, there are still some things you can’t plan for.”

But Bazzel said the product was ultimately a triumph for the culture of TaylorMade, where each product category has a group leader, but Bazzel said that doesn’t limit the staff’s ability to contribute across other product lines.

“Everybody fits the culture of TaylorMade, but yet is each uniquely skilled. The talent in this building is incredible and there are no egos,” he said. “We want people to feel like they can contribute anywhere at any time.

“We’re always willing to help each other because we’re all ultimately going after the same thing, which is to create the best-performing, hottest golf products on the planet.”

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19th Hole Media: 10 Prime Sources Of Golf Course Social Media Content

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For decades, if not longer now, the indispensable and universal marketing tool of golf has been the flyer. Holding a tournament? Make a flyer? A membership special? Make a flyer? Pro shop holiday sale? Make a flyer.

I now see that mentality transferred into the social media accounts of many golf courses, particularly country clubs. Frankly, 10 years or so now into the rise of smart phones and social media, that strategy is as dated as hickory sticks. Flyers are black and white television in an HDTV world.

The information these materials convey is still essential, but you need to re-consider your presentation. What matters most in social media is visual appeal – and flyers are a triple bogey on that front. And they are flagged as advertising on Facebook, which makes those posts unboostable – and boosting is increasingly critical to social media reach.

So where else would we get visual content, you ask. Well, it’s actually all around you. Here are 10 sources of content at your course that you should be incorporating into your social media.

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The Course – This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many accounts I see where the course seems to be a rumor. Your course is your best friend when it comes to social media. It’s the visual cue that evokes the emotional response you want from your golfers, which is to come play golf. You should be showcasing it weekly, if not daily, to drive rounds and branding of your course.

If you don’t have a marketing budget that provides for professional photos, here’s the good news: Smart phone photos will totally suffice. Point your phone at your course often, including the wildlife and landscape (flowers, waterfalls, etc.). You’re looking to paint a visual picture that captures the ENTIRE experience at your course. And recruit your staff. Who knows? There may be a budding nature photographer amongst them.

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The Driving Range – Whether your range is beautiful or bland, it’s still where practice and teaching take place. Social media is a GREAT place to teach the game and promote instruction. Lesson videos are the best content, but simple forms will still convey the message, but lesson videos are worth the time and effort. And if they’re not great at first? Practice!!! It’s the range! Your golfers will reward your attempts to educate.

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The Golf Shop –
This is where the low-hanging fruit of social media lives. Courses are constantly swapping out their golf shop inventory. Are you sharing your changes with your audience and enticing them with sales and visuals of new merchandise? If not, why not? You have no excuse not to, especially when professional promotional images by vendors are readily available. FYI: Promoting your rental clubs, which I rarely see anyone do, also falls under this category.

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The Kitchen – Food has a HUGE audience on social media, far larger than golf. Let what comes out of your kitchen entice diners AND golfers to your facility by taking food photos. This is the best way to get non-golfers to your property and foster a loyal dining following. And this is the department most prone to the flyer. But instead of that bunch flyer, how about this? Show the food! There’s a reason food photos complement restaurant menus – diners want to see the food!

The next time you cook or dine at your club, take a second and snap a pic! When you share, you’re encouraging your diners to come join you do the same!

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Wedding Photographers – This could go much higher on this list, considering that weddings are the second biggest source of revenue for many courses, but this is secondary source of content so we’ll leave it here. Wedding photogs create some of the most beautiful, and often most progressive, content in the business. If you’re not gathering galleries taken at your course, you’re hugely missing out on a valuable trove of content.

One reason is the look, but the second is the cost: Free. The couple has paid for the service. Simply acknowledging the source usually satisfies most photographers and double as branding for them for additional business.

Wedding photos taken on the course are the best of both worlds because the course and couple always look great. Capture this content and spin it forward to recruit future brides.

Your Golfers – Social media is a two-way street. If you’ve got a healthy relationship with your followers, they are sharing at a rate equal to or exceeding what you’re sending. And sometimes what they create and share is really good. Never before have I shared so much user-generated content as in 2017 (Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

By re-posting this content you are doing two things: You are celebrating your golfers and encouraging other golfers to do the same. That’s called a social media win-win. Be active and your golfers likely will be too.

Your Web Site – Just like the course photos this is another obvious one that isn’t so obvious. At a bare minimum, you should be promoting your online booking engine, but anything you’ve deemed worthy of your web site is worthy of your social media. You’ve already declared your marketing intentions by creating one. Capitalize on that investment by promoting it on social media.

Outside Reviews – Be it by an outside professional reviewer or one of your patrons, positive reviews are fodder for promotion. You especially want to seize on any unique critiques of your course. Share them or partially quote them to encourage and promote future play.

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The Tour – The PGA Tour is the No. 1 promotional vehicle for golf. Share photos and encourage talk about the Tour, especially during the majors, to engage that sector of your audience. Since the Tour never stops, this can be an especially valuable source to courses who don’t have a year-round golf season. Use the tour to talk about equipment trends, the game, etc. and remain engage with your audience during the off season.

Third-Party Content – You could probably make a case that the prior two categories could go under this tab, but I’m going to break it out on its own to expand on the point. There’s a wealth of golf content on the Internet that you can re-purpose for your purpose, such as lesson pieces if you don’t have the capacity to produce them on your own. The ultimate goal of social media is provide value and value is where you find it. How valuable are you being to your audience?

So those are 10 types of content readily available to your course. How many are you using? Let 19th Hole Media help you discover your content possibilities by contacting me (corey.ross@yahoo.com) or Zeb (Zeb@zebwelbornmedia.com) for a free consultation.

May Southland

Southland: Drought-Busting Winter Rains A Boon For SoCal Golf

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You can find the digital version of the story at Southland’s site here.

The winter rains may have been a wet blanket for tee sheets to start 2017 in Southern California, but the weather windfall since is the end of the drought and summer-quality course conditions months early.

The lush landscapes golfers are enjoying are helping courses recover from the drought, and the wet winter, in more ways than just through increased rounds.

Torrey Pines Golf Operations Director Mark Marney said the course scored a fiscal birdie in Feb. via a water savings of $75,000.

“It’s definitely going to help us from a budget standpoint,” Marney said. “But overall the rains have been really beneficial. The course is looking much crisper than it normally would at this time of year.”

Other course general managers across Southern California are echoing similar sentiments, saying spring course conditions are the best they’ve seen in years if not unprecedented.

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Arroyo Trabuco

At Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo not only the course but the surrounding hillsides are so green one could almost confuse Orange County with Ireland. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club Director of Golf Geoff Cram said the verdant coincidence is uncommon but very welcome.

“It never got cool this winter so our turf never really went dormant,” Cram said. “And then you had fresh water on top of it, so it’s incredibly green. Usually our turf ramps up slowly, but here it is the middle of March and it looks like the end of May.”

Colin Radchenko, General Manager at Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, is witnessing similar surrounds at his course and is amazed by what he sees at courses throughout the county.

“It’s amazing what the water has done not just for us but for every golf course throughout San Diego,” he said. “It’s incredible, and our golfers are loving it.”

Radchenko reports strong play this spring after a winter that was solid as well despite the heavy rain events.

But the best news of all, of course, is that what’s largely regarded as the wettest winter in Southern California since 1983-84 busted the drought. Mike Huck, a water management in San Juan Capistrano who monitors usage by the state’s course, said he never expected a seven-year deficit to be caught up in one wet winter wallop, but it’s blessing that it did, especially for golf courses.

It’s assumed the state will lift some water restrictions of previous years, and if so, courses are indeed looking at a big boost to their budget for one of their largest expenses, Huck said. Various common sense restrictions will remain in place and become permanent such as bans on hosing off sidewalks, washing cars without a positive shutoff hose nozzle and irrigating narrow street medians with pop-up sprinklers.

“There’s probably a 10 percent savings or so that they can look forward to,” he said. “Courses may be able to prolong their savings when they begin heavily irrigating this spring due to the deeply wetted soils.”

There could be an additional savings through continued smart management practices that were born of the drought. While the drought was a painful maintenance circumstance, Huck said Southern California superintendents might now be better resource managers because of it.

“They learned they can live on a little less water than they had in the past and still have acceptable course conditions,” he said. “It forced them into using less, but it might not be a bad thing that it changed their approach a little bit.”

Some practices born of the drought, such as painting fairways and driving ranges, Huck expects to now be common practice regardless of future rains.

“I don’t think you’ll see people over seeding like you did in the past,” he said, “and that’s definitely a good thing.

“During the drought, they made great use of paints and dyes that helped them save on water. And it gives the course just enough color to keep it looking good. There’s no reason that shouldn’t continue.”

The upsides to the end of the drought are obvious for courses, but for some it came at a price. The sometimes severe storms of 2017 took down trees at some courses and caused other on-course damage through localized events, such as flooding.

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Torrey North

Marney said course officials at Torrey in particular were holding their breath during storms after a re-designed North Course was still taking hold. It re-opened in Nov. and hosted the Farmers Insurance Open in Jan. Marney said Torrey’s courses mostly weathered the storms, but on occasion grounds crews were sent racing.

“We had some drains on the North that still need to be touched up and fixed, but it was a good test, and it passed,” he said.

Marney in particular noted the bunker maintenance disparity between the North and South Courses in preparation for the Farmers during the rains.

“It would take us two or three days to get the bunkers on the South back in play and on the North, we had no issues at all,” he said. “So in that respect, re-doing the North course really paid off in terms of reduction of time it took to get the course playable again.”

While Torrey was working feverishly last summer to get the project completed, it was also battling an infestation of bark beetles that were threatening its precious Torrey Pines. The lack of rains had sapped of the trees of their natural defense – sap – and the beetles were at one point killing four or five trees a month before Torrey’s maintenance crew introduced better methods to help the trees cope.

The beetles are always around, but Marney said the drought gave them the edge they needed to do great damage.

“You’d see a few trees in severe decline and then they’d quickly move onto another tree,” he said. “It was just moving much faster than it had in the past.”

Thanks to maintenance assist and the return of the rains, however, Marney said the remaining Torreys are recovering and the beetles are at bay for now.

“We’ve learned more and we’re in a different climate condition,” he said. “Both things are helping us out on this one.”

Huck said a handful of other courses faced beetles issues but for most the common fight is the toll years of continuous drought have taken on their trees, many of which Huck says won’t recover.

“Even with the rains, some of them are so far gone that they probably won’t come back,” he said. “It just depends how far into the cycle of death they are at this point.

“When you go through a dry spell like that, it puts real pressure on the trees.”

California’s groundwater reserves have been similarly stressed, which Huck said will be a decade-long recovery process because gains accrue so slowly. But he notes that, for some courses, the droughts did bring previously dry wells back into use.

One of other maintenance practices several courses in SoCal turned to during the drought was turf reduction. They removed turf to make the course more sustainable and replaced the turf with drought-tolerant plants.

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Steele Canyon

Steele Canyon was one course that made a unique use of the reduced area by planting grapevines and establishing vineyards. This spring marks year two of the project and Radchenko is pleased to report buds forming on the still nearly virgin vines.

“It hasn’t really been warm yet, but when it heats up, we expect them to really take off,” he said. “But the water started things popping in the spring and definitely gave them a boost.”

The vines won’t produce a wine-grade grape until next year, but they did produce sporadic fruit a year ago that Radchenko hopes will be followed by lots of rain-fueled bunches and clusters this year.

“We won’t have our first real harvest until 2018, but it’s still great to see,” he said.

The drought ending is a happy ending for courses and hopefully the dawn of a new fruitful year after being hampered by a lack of water, and high water costs, for much of the decade.

The return of business as usual is certainly welcome by staffs at all California courses and Radchenko said golfers are celebrating it as well.

“Our rounds up and people are excited to get out and play,” he said. “But mostly it’s just nice to look at all the surrounding areas and see everything green after years of brown, brown, brown.”

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19th Hole Media: A Q & A About Yoga And Golf And Riverwalk’s Upcoming Yoga Event

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Riverwalk will be hosting its first-ever yoga class on April 12th when we hold Yogis & Bogeys at 5:30 p.m. Erin Hanson of Live + Breathe will conduct the class, which will introduce golfers to the benefits of yoga. In this Q & A, Erin talks about the benefits of yoga to golfers and how it can improve your health and game.
 
Q: For those who do not currently do yoga, which is widely practiced in San Diego and SoCal, how do you explain it?

A: Yoga is a multi-faceted practice that works to integrate both the mind and body. The form of yoga that is most familiar is the physical version with poses that are put together in a special “sequence” designed for a particular style. Each style is developed to emphasize what the participant wants to gain from class (i.e., restorative yoga, hot power yoga). Yoga is a skill set that can translate to many activities and can simultaneously provide energizing and calming effects.  
 
Follow the link to read the rest of my Q & A with Erin and register for the event. We hope to see you!

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Photo: www.collegeofgolf.keiseruniversity.edu.

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Tweet, Tweet: Socalgolfblog.com Named One Of 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter

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First the blog was named one of the top 100 golf blogs on the Internet. Now we’ve been named one of the 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter. Is there a Triple Crown for this stuff? Can we get some Facebook or Instagram love?

We’re joking of course because we’re always humbled, honored and usually surprised to found out we’ve won something. I don’t know how many “Congratulations!” emails you wake up to every day, but it’s now happened to me twice in the last two months. I usually have to track it back to find out what I actually won.

This time it’s an honor from www.360golfholidays.com. You can read the list here. I’ll say this: It’s an eclectic list, from Beef Johnson to Claude Harmon to my San Diego colleague Jenn Harris at www.highheelgolfer.com.

Here’s our listing:

Corey Ross – https://twitter.com/socalgolfblog – San Diego golf and travel writer tweeting on a regular basis. Known for marketing golf courses and author of the socialgolfblog.com.

Yep. That’s us in a nutshell. Feel free to follow @socalgolfblog.com and learn a whole about golf courses in San Diego and particularly Maderas, where I work as the Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media. I also partner with Zeb Welborn to post for 19th Hole Media and our growing list of course clients.

And I have a thought or two about social media in general from time to time. It’s a funny place, this Internet. You never know who might discover you, but I’m glad the people at 360 Golf Holidays did. Thanks for the recognition. We’ll hopefully see you all on Twitter soon.

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Maderas: Meet Maderas Wedding Specialist Laura Magid

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In the six months since Laura Magid joined the Maderas staff as its wedding specialist, she’s escorted many happy couples down the aisle on their big day.

She’s overseen a record year for weddings at Maderas and looking to be even busier in 2016.

As San Diego increasingly is being discovered as a destination wedding hot spot, so is Maderas, with its scenic panoramic golf course views and unique amenities, such as its private bridal-ready suite La Casa.

In this Q & A, Laura shares her story about arriving at Maderas and what she enjoys about her job and helping couples plan their perfect special day.

Can you share with us a little about the eclectic career route that led you to working with weddings?

I kind of fell into it. I went to school for fashion design yet was hungry to see the world so I ended up traveling the world doing international volunteerism. I worked in Costa Rica and Nepal at orphanages teaching English and managing volunteers.

When I moved back to California, I was able to utilize my management skills and love for fashion by becoming the manager of Coach on Rodeo Drive. We did a lot of press events in Beverly Hills, and I learned quickly how to deal with a demanding clientele.

Soon my love of helping others surpassed my passion for fashion and I was able to create a career in non-profit event planning where I created and managed anything from seminars, to golf tournaments to galas. I was asked to assist a local wedding planner with a wedding and I loved it. It fit my experience, and I was good at the nurturing side of it – and weddings need a lot of nurturing.

But it was actually golf that introduced you to Maderas?

I brought a golf tournament here in 2012. I thought personally that Maderas was a hidden gem. It was known for golf but that put it on my radar as a wedding venue.

In meantime, Laura started her own company and worked with about 150 weddings before joining our staff.

What do you like in general about working with weddings?

Love is beautiful. You only have a handful of events where you celebrate your life changing direction. It’s worth the celebration.

Weddings are a billion-dollar business. In some cultures, people save their whole lives for that one day. People are always going to be getting married. The trends will change, but people will always celebrate these moments in their lives. I found a career that I love, I’m good at, and will always be in demand.

That’s a big win in my book.

What does it mean to be a wedding specialist?

It’s like being a wedding concierge. I work with couples throughout the entire process. We don’t just save a date and then see you then. That’s a special benefit that you get here, having someone with you through the planning, from the catering to the design.

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That day includes La Casa. How have brides liked that experience?

The biggest thing people can’t believe is that it isn’t extra. It’s just part of the package. It definitely gives the wedding an extra wow factor.

You might get your own suite or a comped room at a hotel at other places, but here you get your own private house that’s fully furnished and with incredible panoramic views.

How do you regard San Diego as a wedding destination?
It’s a hub for weddings. It’s a great destination wedding spot for people all over the country, especially if that place gets a little colder than California. When you look at San Diego as a destination spot, you’ve got beaches, mountains and a great weather pretty much 365 days a year.

Plus, San Diego tends to be more affordable than Hawaii. It’s the perfect destination for a wedding, especially if you’d like to make a vacation out of it.

You are, of course, booking weddings well into 2016. What are you seeing as the trends for the new year?

The DIY weddings, where you hold it on a ranch or some non-traditional venue, are on their way out. I think tastes are shifting back toward the elegant, classic wedding where an all-inclusive is wanted.

Also, with the economy improving, people are putting more money into their weddings. They’re being a little more lavish and are willing to splurge on the details, things like extra outdoor lighting and lounge furniture to make their wedding seem like more of an event.

Call 858.217.2564, ext. 1327 or email Laura at lmagid@maderasgolf.com to book your wedding at Maderas. You can also get a tour of La Casa on Tues. through Sat. There’s more information at www.maderasweddings.com.

Maderas: Toby Wells Tournament A Continuing Success

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Adrienne & April

For 14 years now, as of today (June 5), the Toby Wells Foundation has sponsored one of the signature charity golf events at Maderas Golf Club.

Annually sold-out fields and sponsorships have generated more than $2 million in funds to help underprivileged kids and neglected animals in San Diego.

Not bad, especially for being organized and run by two sisters, Adrienne Wells Holmes and April Wells West, who don’t play golf.

“It’s kind of ironic, but it’s worked out really well,” Adrienne says. “(A golf tournament) just proved to be a natural fit … even though my sister and I don’t play.”

The golf tournament came about after the sisters established the charity to honor the memory of their brother Toby and were seeking ways to raise support.

“Our family was in the construction equipment industry,” Adrienne says. “A lot of our supporters were construction workers who really enjoyed golf.”

With the sisters living a mile from the course, Maderas was a natural choice – and a success story was born.

“We get great service and hospitality at Maderas,” Adrienne says. “It’s been a great partnership to work with them.”

In the early days of the foundation, its funds and volunteers partnered with local nonprofits to achieve its mission in the community. In 2009, those efforts gained a home when the family purchased a 300-acre ranch in Ramona and dubbed it Blue Apple Ranch.

The ranch is populated by nearly 100 horses and goats, steers and chickens who were rescued from neglect and abuse. Those animals are now cared for by underprivileged and disabled children and provide an education about animal awareness and compassion. Through a partnership with the YMCA, the horses also allow for an annual equestrian and horse summer camp.

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Toby Wells

The twin causes of welfare for animals and children were those championed by their brother before he passed after a tragic accident. Among the many stories, he was known for rescuing dogs from the animal shelter and making their guard dogs at the family business.

His legacy and spirit now live on through the foundation.

“The ranch is meant to be here for generations to come,” Adrienne says. “This is how we wanted to memoralize our brother, by going good works in the community.”

And those efforts continue to evolve, partly because funds raised by the golf tournament, Adrienne says.

“We’ve had about an 87 percent retention rate of golfers and sponsors,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to our family and it has allowed us to expand our reach. Our base of supporters are local. Those that benefit are all local. We are truly a grass-roots organization in San Diego.

“One of the most unique things about the Toby Wells Foundation is that although we’re private family foundation, we’ve grown into more of a community foundation.”

Among other efforts for the foundation, it partners with the foster care program at San Pasqual Academy to provide 18-week internships.

“Research shows that foster kids who have a work experience prior to age 18 are three times more likely to find gainful employment,” Adrienne says.

The family also funded the Toby Wells YMCA in Kearney Mesa, through which it serves unprivileged kids and military families.

“Funds from the golf tournament are directly benefitting children,” Adrienne says.

The tournament now takes about four to five months of work by the family, but April says time spent on things like stocking the auctions all pays off.

“And it all comes from San Diego, like the Padres and the Chargers,” she says. “And Maderas donates back too. Every bit helps.”

Following the tournament, golfers adjoin to the Maderas ballroom for an awards dinner and program, during which a video relays the programs and successes of the foundation. In 14 years, the foundation has raised nearly $14 million.

“We’ve done runway fashions shows and partnered with the YMCA to do concerts with Kenny Loggins and Little Richard,” April says, “but the golf tournament has really proved a good fit for us.”

To learn more about foundation, or contribute, go to www.tobywells.org. Any questions can be directed to Adrienne Wells Holmes at adrienne@tobywells.org. Among the ways to support Toby Wells is by buying twine bracelets made from repurposed twine from hay bales at the farm.

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Blue Apple Ranch

The Best Golf Walks in San Diego

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Photo courtesy of www.golfdigest.com

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I had a really fun interview this morning with Chad Beckley of Premiercaddie.org about his company’s caddying services that unwittingly produced the material for a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

My list of laments about Southern California golf – and trust me it’s a very short list – includes the lack of walkable courses. Before moving here, I walked the majority of my rounds in the Midwest. In fact, my favorite way to play was to hike out for nine in the late afternoon.

Largely due to course layout and topography of California courses, and a bit due to course business models, a good golf walk in SoCal is tough to find … but not impossible.

But if anyone would know where to find one, it’s a caddy since they make their living on their two feet in golf shoes every week.

Anyway, Chad provided me a list that’s better than I could’ve come up with on my own. But we before we get to that, Chad also makes a great case for walking.

“I’m not a strict purist, but walking is a fundamental part of the game. And it’s good for you,” he says. “Also, I think players who walk have a different respect for the game than those who don’t.”

And a different appreciation. I felt like a new a course better once I had walked it and played better as well. Also, walking builds a natural pacing into your game. And I’d certainly much rather walk on a course where I’m anticipating slow play. Riding in a cart just makes it worse.

But anyway …

So here’s the list from a real authority on the subject.

Best Golf Walks in San Diego, courtesy of premiercaddie.org

1. Torrey Pines
2. Ranch Santa Fe CC
3. El Camino CC (Oceanside)
4. Admiral Baker – “The north course is the sleeper of the county. So good. And great greens.”
5. Coronado
6. Balboa – “It’s a little tougher walk the rest. Definitely No. 6, but still good.”

Of those, I’ve played Torrey, El Camino and Coronado and all three would’ve made my list. I also would’ve added St. Mark’s in San Marcos, although I’m not sure walking is an option at least as far as the cart is included in your round.

Torrey is obviously a fantastic walk. I would likely do it every week if I had a city card. El Camino is where I’ve walked the most and wouldn’t play it any other way. So enjoyable.

I didn’t walk Coronado when I played it but would if I did again. It’s flat as the deck of an air-craft carrier.

Premier Caddie currently provides caddying services primarily at Torrey Pines, Maderas Golf Club, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar CC and Rancho Santa Fe CC.

If you have any other preferred walks, please post in the comments section, which I know is getting spammed to high heaven. I’m working on getting that cleaned up. Thanks for your patience. The blog is a little busy.

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Photo Post: An Inside Look at SKLZ

exterior

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You’re going to be reading more about SKLZ on the blog very soon, so I’m going to fast-forward the company story for now except to say that SLKZ is a company involved in the training of elite athletes. They produce unique training products meant to enhance athletic performance and those training tools are then employed in intense workouts that take place at the SKLZ headquarters in Carlsbad.

Today, I just wanted to take you inside the SKLZ facility, which has a heavily industrial feel, start with its front door. Beyond that, we’re going to show you what an elite athlete training facility looks like, but we advise you to take the tour on your own if you can because the entire place is an experience. SKLZ is located on Faraday Ave., not far from TaylorMade Golf.

You can read more about them at www.sklz.com.

To the tour …

frontdoor

Even if it’s automated, merely walking through the front door at SKLZ is a confidence builder. It feels like you just opened something with the tonnage of a bank vault door. It sets the ton for what you experience inside.

photo (30)

This is the main gym floor, equipped with the latest in weight and resistance training equipment. You can’t see it very well here, but the far wall is marked with a bunch of black streaks. Those are from medicine balls being flung against it. When you see where those marks are, you know we’re talking about some serious strength.

field

Step out about and you discover the facility’s 50 yards of artificial turf. I trained here for my golf workout piece for Southland Golf. Among the exercises, my trainer had my balance on the goal line. I was doing half OK until he said, “Now close your eyes.” Uh, oh.

restoffield

This is the other half of the field, just to show the rest of the space. You can do a lot training with 50 yards of turf. We did plenty in just 15 minutes.

mural

As any good training space should, SKLZ is decorated with a number of motivational murals. I love this stuff.

trainingaids

This is the best photo representation of what SKLZ does. These are the their golf training aids. They also work with football, baseball/softball, basketball and soccer. They are in constant creative mode, developing products that can help athletes reach their full potential.

My training piece in Southland Golf should be posted. Look for it on the blog under the Southland Golf tab.


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