Tag Archives: Lloyd Porter

JC Golf: Golf Fest Returns To Oaks North On March 6th and 7th

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For the third straight year, Oaks North will be hosting Golf Fest, a two-day showcase of the latest equipment and a host of other golf-related products and services.

The event drew around 2,000 people last year and Oaks North Head Professional Lloyd Porter expects a strong turnout again. Golf Fest is on March 6 and 7 this year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Both days, there’s a huge rush at 9 a.m.,” Porter says. “People are lined up all the way down the fairway. For a typical golfer, it’s exciting because you can see everything in one spot. There aren’t a lot of opportunities like that in Southern California.”

Golf Fest is an event for all ages and abilities. While adults sample products, juniors and beginners can play a six-hole loop for free, with a paid admission ($10 – children 10 and under are free. Parking is $5). Free lessons from a JC Golf pro are also available.

But the big draw is the new equipment, which is set up for testing on the driving range. This year’s vendor lineup includes Callaway, Cleveland/Srixon, Cobra, Ping TaylorMade, Tour Edge and Wilson.

Representatives from each company will be on hand to assist with testing and to answer product questions.

“You’re talking to the experts on every product,” Porter says. “And you’re actually on the driving range so you can see what’s going on.”

And equipment can be fit on site as well, meaning golfers can play their new equipment the same day. The North and East courses remain open for play during the event.

“We’re unique in that we keep the course open,” Porter says. “You can play golf and then enjoy the show.”

Around 70 vendors will be on site, providing everything from custom putters to range finders to massages.
Food (hamburgers, grill chicken sandwiches) and beverages (beer, soda) are also available as part of day that has a carnival-like atmosphere.

Other highlights include:

– A trick shot exhibition at 1 p.m. each day.

– A putting contest on the 9th hole of the South course.

– A hole-in-one contest on Saturday at 3 p.m.

– A goody bag provided by Golf Fest

And to make Golf Fest an even better value, paid admission includes a free future round of golf (Friday – Carmel Mountain Ranch; Sat. – Twin Oaks).

“You can’t lose,” Porter says.

To purchase advance tickets or learn more about the show, go to www.golffestshow.com.

SCGA: Hacking Away – An Update on the 15-Inch Golf Hole in SoCal

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The following is a story I did for the SCGA’s FORE Magazine updating local courses adaption of Hack Golf. You can find the article and issue here:

http://plusfore.scga.org/dec2014/Default/7/0

Standing over a 35-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the east course at Oaks North in Rancho Bernardo, I’d never felt more confident about sinking a long putt in my life.

Aiming at a hole the size of a large pizza will do that.

And sure enough, my putt, hit firmly at the left edge of the oversized hole, gently sloped in for a two on the closing par 3.

And with that, I had the experience the founders of Hack Golf wanted to me to have – increased ease of scoring.

The 15-inch cups have been in place for more than a month now and Oaks North Head Professional Lloyd Porter says the game is finding its audiences. He reports that young juniors in particular like the oversized holes as do couples.

“He’ll play the regulation holes and she’ll play the 15-inch cups,” he says. “The women really like it because it takes away some of the intimidation factor. When they hear about it, they say, ‘I’d try that.’”

Couples, kids, juniors and beginners are the ones most drawn to game, according to course managers.

“It definitely appeals to certain age demographics,” says Jason Egnetz, general manager at the Lomas Santa Fe Executive Course in Solona Beach.

Lomas and Oaks North have been joined by The Ranch at Laguna Beach and the Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert as early adapters. TaylorMade Golf, and particularly former CEO Mark King, are founders of the concept and recruited 100 courses nationally to introduce the concept.

At Oaks North, the 15-inch holes, designated by a flag with a “15” on it, also come with their own tees, shorter than the whites. Those tees boxes are comprised of two large orange balls stamped with a “15.” There’s also a 15-inch cup on the practicing putting green.

At the course greens at Oaks North there’s a regulation hole on one side of the green and a 15-inch cup on the other. At Lomas, the 15-inch cups are in the back, making them less intrusive of traditional play.

While the new game is easier, Egnetz stops short of calling it easy.

“You still have to the ball to the green,” he says, “and even then it’s not as easy you think.”
Perhaps the best use for the new holes, Egnetz says, has been as a complement to another novelty game: Glow ball.
“You can see the hole better,” he says, “so people seem to be having more fun with it.”

But the holes themselves are no longer a novelty, report Lomas and Oaks North. They’re now a fixture.
“The holes are here to stay,” Porter says. “This is for the next generation of golfers.”

If you’re looking to take your round on the 15-inch cups as more than practice and looking to go low, Oaks North Assistant Golf Professional Steve Lyons and I have come up with three scoring tips for you.

1. Putt aggressively – There’s no reason to hold back and your best bet is often to go straight at the hole. With a 15-inch cup, the ball isn’t jumping out. As painful as leaving putts short normally is, it’s doubly so here. See it and hit it firmly.

2. Go for the middle of the green – This timeless golf scoring strategy especially holds true on the 15-inch holes, none of which are in the middle. The greens are set up with a regulation cup on one side and a 15-inch inch on the other. Put yourself in the middle on every hole to have consistence chances to score. All you’re looking to do is set up a putt and then take advantage of the advantage the game is giving you.

3. Chip with irons, not just wedges –
We talked previously about the scoring mentality of short-game shots on 15-inch cups. Unlike a normal round, you’re not necessarily looking to give yourself the best leave. You want to score – and a wedge isn’t necessarily your best bet for doing that.

Trying chipping with your 7-, 8- and 9-irons for your best scoring chances. Why? Those clubs don’t impart as much backspin and roll out more.

On the practice chipping green, hit practice shots with these clubs to learn how far they roll out and then allow for that on your shot. And these are shots that can come in handy in your normal round. Truthfully, most people don’t utilize these shots enough and teaching pros preach that you have better control of a ball on the ground than in the air. Here’s your chance to work on it.

JC Golf: Oaks North Hosts First 15-Inch Cups in JC Golf

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After a brief experimental period using them on the putting and chipping greens, the 15-inch cups went live on the east course at Oaks North last week and have been well received, says Lloyd Porter, Head Professional at Oaks North.

“The feedback has been good, and actually really good,” he says.

The cups are part of an initiative sponsored by TaylorMade Golf to make the game more accessible for who amateurs who don’t play often or non-golfers who might be discouraged by the difficulty of scoring.

JC Golf has offered Oaks North and Encinitas Ranch to be among the 100 test courses TaylorMade sought to recruit for the concept, termed “Hack Golf” by TaylorMade CEO Mark King when it was announced at the January PGA Show.

At the launch event at Pauma Valley last spring, King explained he got the concept from a novelty hole he played in a charity tournament once.

Besides increased scoring, the holes are also meant to improve pace of play by drastically reducing the time spent on greens reading putts, etc. Porter says that goal has already been realized.

“It’s unbelievably faster,” he says. “It would be fantastic (for pace) if it would catch on.”

JC is making the experience affordable and memorable by offering nine holes on the 15-inch cups for $15 (cart not included). For reference, by the way, 15 inches is larger than a paint can, but smaller than a basketball hoop.

Porter says younger players have been especially receptive to the concept.

“One of our junior camps went out and a kid chipped in for a birdie and sank a long putt. He was so excited,” Porter says. “Those are probably the first two birdies in his life. So the kids can really relate to the scoring part of it.”

The east course features two holes – one regulation and one enlarged – on each green. The location of the larger hole is noted by a flag with a “15” on it.

Having both holes is providing exposure to the game to players who book 18-hole rounds, Porter says, whether they chose to play the larger holes or not. (Rules note: If a ball goes in the larger hole during a regulation round, simply take relief and consider it a hole made by a greens keeper. And vice versa.)

Porter says it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the impact of the holes on new players, but reports that so far the launch has been successful.

“It’s going to take time to catch on,” he says, “but so far the feedback has been very positive.”

To book your nine-hole round for $15 at Oaks North, go to www.jcgolf.com or call 858.487.3021.


JC Golf: U.S. Open Preview & Picks By The Pros

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          As the year’s second major, the U.S. Open, arrives, storylines abound that, refreshingly, don’t involve Tiger Woods.

Unlike the Masters, Woods’ absence at Pinehurst has been barely a blip on the media radar this week. Instead, players who are actually playing in the tournament have been the storyline and, of course, the course itself.

According to my golf-centric Twitter feed, these are the lead stories going into the tournament.

  1. Can Phil Mickelson complete his career Grand Slam?

After his win at the British Open last year, Mickelson has now won them all, save for the Open, at which he’s finish second an incredible six times, including at Pinehurst 15 years ago. Despite his clout of having won five majors, a Mickelson victory seems a bit unlikely when you consider his atypically quiet year on Tour. And he’s tinkering with his putting grip (going to the claw), which is already drawing doubters. As one columnist wrote, “There goes Mickelson, out-thinking himself again.”

But a Mickelson victory would certain give the Tour season a shot in the arm. As would …

2. Will Jordan Spieth Finally Break Through?

The Next Big Thing in golf would erase the “Next” with a major championship. To do it, he’ll have to learn to close, something he’s been unable to do thus far this season. But after finishing second to Bubba Watson at the Masters, a breakthrough at the U.S. Open would announce an arrival that seems inevitable. But as Jack Nicklaus says of Tiger Woods’ major chase: You haven’t done it until you’ve done it.

3. A Classic Venue Restored

Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore oversaw a $2.5 million renovation of the No. 2 course to restore it to the original Donald Ross design and a more natural state. Among other things, that meant removing turf and restoring bunkers and waste areas. As a result, this Open isn’t expected to play like an Open in that it won’t have ankle-high rough. However, in the practice rounds the pros have reported that the greens have been tough to hit, thus the winner’s chance possible riding on a strong short game, which (back to No. 1) … hello, Lefty.

But the course setup has some forecasting controversy …

4.  Could We See A Rules Controversy Like the 2010 PGA?

The 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits is where a rules controversy erased Dustin Johnson’s best chance at a major victory. He grounded his club in what he believed to be a waste area instead of a bunker. He thus invoked a two-stroke penalty that cost him the championship.   

Similar course conditions at Pinehurst abound, meaning the rules official is certain to get a workout this week. Something to watch for, but here’s hoping we don’t have another major overshadowed by a rules controversy.

There’s also the chance for Bubba Watson to notch a second major and really put some sizzle into the Tour season. But none of our JC pros chose him. Their picks are listed below.

Erik Johnson, General Manager, Encinitas Ranch

Rory McIlroy – I think he has momentum on his side and his game 9and mind) are now sharp enough to return to top form

Adam Scott – He has become one of the most consistent players on the planet (hence his No. 1 world ranking), he is one of the best ball-strikers in the game, so if the putter is working he should be a favorite

Long Shot…..Webb Simpson – Wait a second, a former champion as a long-shot?  After the 2012 championship, his game has fallen off, but he is getting hot at the right time and has the experience to prevail.

Jay Navarro, Tournament Director, Temecula Creek Inn –

Webb Simpson – Played well in the FedEx.

Troy Ferguson, Head Golf Professional, Twin Oaks –

Graham DeLaet. Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Blake Dodson, Director of Golf, Rancho Bernardo Inn

Jordan Spieth – Too young to be scared of the U.S. Open.

Lloyd Porter, Head Professional, Reidy Creek and Oaks North

Sergio Garcia – My wife’s favorite.