Tag Archives: Orange County

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The RanchLB: Harvest Restaurant Has Arrived – Take Our Virtual Tour

In October, The Ranch at Laguna Beach golf resort finally opened up its much anticipated Harvest restaurant, one of the final pieces of its nearly two-year renovation project. As with everything at The Ranch, the overall quality and attention to detail are impeccable.

What follows is a photo tour that will take you through the lobby, bar, patio and restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the No. 1 fairway and has huge windows that open toward the course and make the restaurant open air and seems to make the golf and restaurant experiences seamless. And we’re calling this the new best table in golf.

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Take a look around in our virtual tour and make sure to check out Harvest the next time you’re in Laguna Beach. You won’t be disappointed with the restaurant or anything else about this unique golf resort experience that’s rapidly rocketing up the Trip Advisor ratings for Orange County.

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And we close with blog’s standard review of The Ranch: It rocks.

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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

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.

Photo Post: Ben Brown’s Golf Course In Laguna

I made a completely pleasant golf discovery last weekend that I wanted to share with you.

I was invited to play the nine-hole Ben Brown’s Golf Course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. This is one of those local-secret courses, but it’s too good not to share. From the online description, I gathered little about the course I was about to play after being invited. I recalled a course sign being where this supposedly was – a mile from the ocean off PCH, just past Dana Point – but I’d never heard anyone talk about it.

Finding it is the first issue, though my phone app. got me there no problem. But the turn-in is sparsely and confusingly signed (what’s Aliso Creek?) and easy to miss, especially if you’re still fixated on the ocean.

But what you discover will surprise and amaze you. It’s a beautiful nine-hole layout that wanders through an incredible canyon setting. Every hole is a discovery of fun golf and wonderful scenery, including caves, that’s best taken in on two feet as this course, a SoCal rarity, is completely walkable. In fact, hardly anyone rode the day we played.

The course stretches to 2,221 yards from the blues and presents a fun mix of alternating par 3s and 4s that makes you work through most of your bag. The course and greens were in impeccable shape and provided enough tough holes to keep things interesting. There are at least two holes, both involving creek carries, here you’ve got to play at least twice to figure out how to club right. And I definitely recommend looping this course twice, mostly because it’ll take you no time at all. The pace was terrific here, too.

Oh, and when you arrive you hear rumors about deer. Sure enough, we saw them on our second nine. Deer in Laguna. Who knew?

Anyway, this is where I power down my fingers and let the photos do the talking. Here’s a glimpse of a great, and somewhat undiscovered, south Orange County golf experience.

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(Zoom in if you can’t see the moon.)

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