Tag Archives: Pebble Beach

Southland: SoCal Golf and the Drought

Southland June

For the worst-case scenario, look up 1977, a year when drought conditions resulted in courses on the Monterrey Peninsula having water usage cut in half or more, causing many to struggle for survival.

Mike Huck, a California water management and recycled water expert with Irrigation & Turfgrass Services in San Juan Capistrano, remembers photos of Pebble Beach from that period.

“It looked like this carpet,” Huck said, pointing to the brownish-yellow material beneath his feet at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. “Except for the greens and tees.”

Follow the link to the rest of my cover story in the June issue.

southlandgolf.ocregister.com/articles/water-72-courses-causing.html

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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.

Maderas: Golf Digest Renews Maderas’ Top 100 Ranking

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http://www.maderasgolf.com/blog.php?cmd=entryView&BlogID=Maderas-Golf-Blog&EntryID=-Announcing-of-the-renewal-of-M&Sort=Date

The new year got off to a celebratory start at Maderas Golf Club when Golf Digest released its biennial top 100 public course rankings on Jan. 6.

Maderas’ top 100 status, achieved for the first time in 2013-14, was renewed for 2015-16 in the coveted ratings unveiled in the January issue.

The course staff had awaited the new rankings with hopeful anticipation and the repeat recognition made for a jubilant January day, General Manager Michael Flickinger says.

“The entire club feels privileged and honored to be a part of this group,” Flickinger says of the top 100 courses. “We fought long and hard to be able to move into this arena, and we’re thrilled that Golf Digest recognized us again. It’s great to have this for another two years.”

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A host of variables go into the rating criteria, but Flickinger says course maintenance in particular carries significant weight. That validates an area of great emphasis at Maderas, he says.

“The maintenance staff in particular was very excited. We talk to the staff about course conditions and accolades like this. For us to paint that goal for them to achieve it a second time is a great feeling.
“And it’s a great lift for the staff as a whole.”

Golf Digest rated Maderas No. 92 and added the following comments:

A rare core design with residential homes amidst rock-dotted hillsides around its perimeter, Maderas features ponds, lakes, creek gulches, dry washes, canyons and chasms as hazards and sports some of the longest greens in southern California. Its setting below the San Jacinto mountain range is invigorating. Practice sidehill and downhill lies before playing Maderas, as its fairways have few flat spots.

Those words will resonate with golfers throughout the next two years.

Flickinger says the course staff didn’t fully understand the impact of being recognized the first time until new golfers started booking tee times.

“One of things we noticed is that people would come into the golf shop and tell us we were now on their bucket list. When they’re in California, they want to play the California top 100 courses,” he says. “They were glad to experience the course for the first time. And we were glad to provide that experience.

“We do think Maderas is a special place, and it’s great to share that with people from throughout the United States.”

Flickinger says the motivation and awareness of Maderas’ status drove the staff to strive for a repeat. Besides maintaining outstanding service, the course invested in a facility upgrade by rebuilding its driving range.

The course purchased pins for its staff denoting the top-100 status the first time. He says something similar will be done this time in addition to updating signage and other promotional course material.

And Flickinger already has one eye toward the 2017-18 rankings.

“How can we move up?” he says. “We’re already reviewing all our methodology.
“We hope to never leave the arena now that we’ve entered it.”

You can find the entire Golf Digest list here – golfdig.st/1tM5fpc.

For reader convenience, we’ve extracted the California course rankings and comments. To book a tee time at Maderas, use this site or call 858.451.8100.

1. Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach has been the No. 1 course ever since we introduced the 100 Greatest Public in 2003. It’s not just the greatest meeting of land and sea in American golf, but the most extensive one, too, with nine holes perched immediately above the crashing Pacific surf — the fourth through the 10th plus the 17th and 18th. Pebble’s sixth through eighth are golf’s real Amen Corner, with a few Hail Marys thrown in over an ocean cove on eight from atop a 75-foot-high bluff. Pebble will host another U.S. Amateur in 2018, and its sixth U.S. Open in 2019.

21. Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz

Pasatiempo is arguably Alister Mackenzie’s favorite design. After all, he lived along its sixth fairway during the last years of his life. With its elaborate greens and spectacular bunkering fully restored by Tom Doak, Pasatiempo is a classic example of Mackenzie’s art. The back nine, playing repeatedly over deep barrancas, is a test for even the most talented of golfers. Presently dealing with drought conditions that restrict watering, Pasatiempo received a Golf Digest Green Star environmental award in 2014.

39. Torrey South, La Jolla

Torrey Pines sits on one of the prettiest golf course sites in America, atop coastal bluffs north of San Diego with eye dazzling views of the Pacific. Rees Jones’s remodeling of the South Course in the early 2000s not only made it competitive for the 2008 U.S. Open, it brought several coastal canyons into play for everyday golfers, especially on the par-3 third and par-4 14th. The USGA recently awarded Torrey Pines its second U.S. Open, to be held in 2021.

40. PGA West (Stadium), La Quinta

Originally private, the TPC Stadium Course (the original 18 at PGA West) finished third in Golf Digest’s survey of Best New Private Courses of 1986. It was also once among the rota of courses for the old Bob Hope Desert Classic, until some pros, objecting to its difficulty, petitioned to remove it. It’s Pete Dye at his rambunctious best, with a finish that mimics his later design at TPC Sawgrass: a gambling par-5 16th (called San Andres Fault), a short par-3 17th to an island green and an intimidating par-4 18th with water hard against the left edge all the way to the green.

44. CordeValle, San Martin

Located in the little-known but abundant golfing area south of San Jose, the gorgeous CordeValle was a private club when it first opened, but is a high-end resort destination these days, with climbing and descending soft hills dotted by gnarled oaks. It hosted both the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open in 2013 and will be the site of the U.S. Women’s Open in 2016.

49. The Links at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach

The Links at Spanish Bay was the first true links course built in America in many decades, but it took years for conveyor belts to deposit sand atop exposed bed rock to return this mined-out sand quarry back to a linkland site. The trio of designers, playfully dubbed “The Holy Trinity,” thoughtfully shaped an 18 that looks natural, plays strategically and is sensitive to the coastal wetland environment.

61. Pelican Hill (Ocean South), Newport Beach

One highlight of Pelican Hill’s Ocean South Course, which was Golf Digest’s Best New Resort Course of 1992, are the 12th and 13th, back-to-back par 3s tucked on a ledge just above the Pacific Ocean, the latter hole with alternate greens. Although the rest of the course is farther from the coastline, mostly on highlands above the Pacific Coast highway, the entire 18 offers spectacular views and short but tricky holes.

89. Pelican Hill (Ocean North), Newport Beach

The slightly younger companion to No. 61 Ocean South at Pelican Hill, the Ocean North Course (previously called the Links Course) is a bit longer and a bit farther inland. Some holes are on higher plateaus, too, which provide for even more scenic Pacific vistas. Only one pond is in play, on the inside corner of the par-5 17th, but deep canyons must be carried several times during a round, including on the approach off the dogleg right 18th.

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92. Maderas GC, Poway
A rare core design with residential homes amidst rock-dotted hillsides around its perimeter, Maderas features ponds, lakes, creek gulches, dry washes, canyons and chasms as hazards and sports some of the longest greens in southern California. Its setting below the San Jacinto mountain range is invigorating. Practice sidehill and downhill lies before playing Maderas, as its fairways have few flat spots.

93. Sandpiper GC, Santa Barbara

On bluffs adjacent to the Pacific outside Santa Barbara, Sandpiper occupies land only slightly less spectacular than No. 39 Torrey Pines (another William F. Bell design), with certain holes, like the par-3 11th, actually closer to the surf than anything at Torrey. Corridors are comfortably wide to accommodate windy conditions. Greens on holes like the par-4 10th and par-5 13th are perhaps the earliest versions of a current design trend, “infinity greens” that hug the horizon with a vast ocean beyond.

The Aura of ’08 Still Shines Brightly at Torrey Pines

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USGA and local officials celebrate the 2021 agreement

In a way, it’s still very much 2008 every day at Torrey Pines.

The mystique of the epic ’08 Open, site of Tiger Woods’ dramatic sudden-death victory over Rocco Mediate, now draws golfers from around the globe to tee it up on the South Course and walk what has become hallowed golf ground.

Merchandise with the ’08 Open logo still sells, stories of that week are repeatedly, and happily, retold and golfers mostly ask, “Hey, when’s that going to happen again?”

Now we know.

Torrey was granted its long awaited and much anticipated encore Tuesday when it was officially revealed “America’s Championship” would return to Torrey in 2021. City and USGA officials jointly announced and celebrated the agreement, passing out 2021 hats and having photos taken with a replica of the U.S. Open trophy.

The sentiment of recapturing the magic of ’08 was expressed by everyone, including the new mayor, using words such as “electricity,” “passion” and “excitement” in what they hoped to recreate in 2021. They’ll will be hard pressed to match the original, but we’ve now got seven years to ponder about how it could be topped.

After the announcement, I asked a few of the Torrey Pines staff members why it is that the 08 Open captured people’s imaginations in a way that few sporting events, not just in golf, rarely do. Think about it: Are people still talking about the 08 Super Bowl? The World Series? The Final Four? No.

Heck, people aren’t still talking about those things from a year ago.

Aside from the Hollywood-level drama, what’s different is part of what makes golf different.

“You can actually play the course where they played the U.S. Open,” says Torrey Pines Head Pro Joe DeBock. “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.”

For comparison, you can try to recreate Christian Laettner’s iconic NCAA Tournament shot, but you can’t do it at the free-throw line of The Spectrum in Philadelphia.

However, you can walk to the 18th green at Torrey and recreate the 12-foot birdie putt Tiger drained to force the championship into an extra day.

And DeBock has. Many, many times now.

“I’ve recreated that putt so many times,” he says. “I originally did it for the media, but people still ask about it all the time.

“It’s a hard putt. If you get it too left, it stays left. It you get it too high, it stays high. It’s a tough putt to recreate.”

But it’s all part of the daily Open conversation at  Torrey.

“I talk about the U.S. Open in every lesson I give, and every tournament we have causes people to reminisce about it. It’s always a hot topic around here and will be even more so now.”

Possibly the only thing DeBock gets asked about more than the 08 Open is when there’d be another one at Torrey. DeBock said he’d been harboring a hunch for a while that it’d be back in 2021.

“When they announced Winged Foot (in New York) for 2020, I started to feel good about us getting it back in 2021,” he said. “When you look at the East/West geography balance, it made real good sense. And enough time had gone by.”

For those that don’t know, by the way, the 2019 Open is at Pebble Beach.

They opened the press event on Tuesday with a video montage of the 2008 Open and seconds later, Tiger was emphatically fist-pumping all over again.

“I still get chills watching that,” confided USGA Vice President Dan Burton. “And I know Rocco does, too.”

In a way the legacy and stature of 2008 has only grown since Tiger’s last putt fell, largely because that’s where his major march toward Jack’s record came to a historical hault.

For what will be six years now when Tiger tees it up at The Masters, Torrey has been the point of reference for his last major title in what still ranks as the most compelling storyline in sports.

Tiger will be 45 when June 2021 rolls around. Where his major odometer will be by then is anybody’s guess, but if he’s still in need of another to break the record, you’ve got to believe this will be coming too late in the game.

But that type of speculation led to a fun thought from Paul Cushing, the City of San Diego’s maintenance manager for golf operations.

“Who knows where the 2021 U.S. Open champion is right now?” he said. “He could be in high school. He could be in another country.

“It’s fun to think about it.”

It is. And we’ve got seven more years to do it. Let the game begin.

ImageFor $36, pin flags from the 2008 U.S. Open still sell