Tag Archives: San Diego Golf


Chris Mayson on KUSI: Holes No. 1 and 3 At Maderas

You can score early at Maderas Golf Club and bank some strokes on the front nine that you’re likely to give back on the more difficult back nine.

In his latest video lessons, Chris Mayson shows you how to play holes No. 1 and No. 3, a pair of early birdie opportunities. Consider this your Maderas starter kit.



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:


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: GolfTEC Opens at Encinitas Ranch

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The new GolfTEC building at Encinitas Ranch opened its doors at on Saturday and drew waves of curious golfers and potential clients for its lesson programs.

The 2,500-square-foot facility is the first to be located on a golf course property in San Diego. It consists of four teaching bays with simulators, a putting lab and a club-fitting studio. GolfTEC is the nation’s leading provider of golf lessons, giving millions of lessons a year in high-tech settings around the country.

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To start, the studio will be staffed by three GolfTEC instructors, but franchise owner Suzanne LaTour said a fourth will be added in January.

The studio’s hours are: Mon./Sat./Sun. – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tues./Wed./Thurs/ – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri. – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

To book a lesson with GolfTEC Encinitas Ranch call 760.208.1400.

Maderas: Maderas’ Mayson Shares Stories of USA Junior Team’s Trip to China

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Photos courtesy of Chris Mayson

Editor’s Note: Chris Mayson was recently named one of top Young Teachers in America by Golf Digest. Congratulations, Chris!

Whatever your associations with China – communism, the Great Wall, a billion people, etc. – Chris Mayson has one that might surprise you: Great golf.

Mayson, Maderas’ Director of Instruction, just returned from his second trip to China in as many years as coach of the USA Junior National Golf Team.

Mayson traveled with a team of six players to take part in the Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championships in November. The team competed four days during its nine-day stay.

The tournament took place at a 36-hole facility in the city of Yiang Jiang, China, in southern China, about two hours from Hong Kong. The courses were carved out of the side of the mountain and in the setting of a jungle terrain. Mayson describe the overall topography as “stunning.”

He says the grandeur of golf in China is a sight to behold.

“The golf there is superb,” Mayson says. “The courses are beautifully maintained and the clubhouses are all built as big and grand as possible. They are out of this world.”

Amidst that setting, Mayson’s team of four boys and two girls 18 and under competed against players from seven other countries. Carolyn Zhao turned in the outstanding individual performance, leading after 36 holes before finishing fifth. The team placed sixth.

The trip was just as much a cultural experience as a golf one, Mayson says, after a 15 ½-hour flight from LAX and a 2 ½-hour bus ride to get to the resort.

On one of his first nights there, a trip to the market gained Mayson a bit of his own paparazzi.

“We were in a small town where they rarely see westerners,” he says. “I was walking through the market and turned around. There were six people following me taking pictures. They’d never see anybody with a beard, or so tall.”

Mayson’s group was escorted at all times by two or three interpreters to help them navigate a country where it’d be impossible for a non-native to do on their own.

“I could drop you off in Rome and you could make your way to the Coliseum by talking to someone or looking at signs,” he says. “In China? No chance. A billion people and hardly anyone speaks English. And the signs are all Chinese symbols. You wouldn’t have the faintest clue.”

But with a little help, Mayson’s team was indeed able to enjoy its time in such a foreign place.

On one of their first nights, the team was taken to a hot springs, Mayson says.

“We were at a hot springs resort where the springs were like Jacuzzis,” he says. “The springs were different temperatures and even different flavors – like apple, jasmine, etc. It was pretty cool.”

And the golf? That proved to be a real test, Mayson says.

“The course we played was really demanding off the tee,” he says. “Even though they’re not very good at golf as a general population, the Chinese like to make their courses really difficult because they like to bet. They want a course where anything can happen on a given hole.”

They only thing tougher than finding a fairway, perhaps, Mayson says, was finding a good meal.

“I’ll eat anything but by the end of the trip, fries started sounding really good to me,” he says. “It’s really hard to get some quality meat. The Chinese eat chicken feet and pig’s feet and squid and octopus. When you ask what you’re eating, they just tell you it’s meat. It’s different.

“And then you try to go to McDonald’s and even that’s different.”

While the food may not be five-star, Mayson says the courses in China are.

“You have to have caddies,” he says. “The caddies stand on the back of your cart and then you walk to your ball, never drive. So there are no cart lines in the fairways.

“And labor is very cheap there so they have tons of people working on the golf course.”

The overall playing experience doesn’t match that of say Scotland, Australia and America, Mayson says, but the courses themselves are indeed world class.

“In terms of the beauty and how well maintained they are, they are definitely at the highest level.”

SD Tourism: The Farmers Returns to Torrey in February, Adds Concerts


This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority.

The PGA Tour’s annual spotlight on San Diego will shine again on Feb. 5-8, 2015, at the Farmers Insurance Open at scenic Torrey Pines.

Held in San Diego and at Torrey since 1952, the PGA’s annual stop is part of the Tour’s West Coast swing. The tournament falls between the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale and the AT &T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach.

Highlights of the Torrey tourney: warm weather, a world-class course and the regular presence of such Tour stars as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Woods is a seven-time winner of the event besides being the winner of the iconic 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.


Maderas: Aviara Golf Club Joins Troon Golf; Five Highlights of the Course and Experience

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Aviara Golf Club at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad has joined the Troon Golf global network of more than 200 courses.

Currently the annual host of the LPGA’s KIA Classic, Aviara is routinely rated one of California’s top resort courses and is the only Arnold Palmer design in San Diego. Impeccable landscaping and being situated next to the Batiquitos Lagoon define the property, which also features dramatic elevation changes on the front nine.

Each hole is truly a unique experience at Aviara.

“Aviara Golf Club at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort is a spectacular property, and we are excited to be involved,” stated John Easterbrook, executive vice president of operations at Troon. “Located in an ideal golf destination, we are confident that our services and expertise will contribute positively to the facility’s success.”

The property’s amenities include: a two-story, 32,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial clubhouse and the adjoining Argyle Steakhouse with indoor and outdoor balcony seating; showers, locker rooms; an upscale golf shop, driving range and an oversized practice putting green.

Troon players, including Maderas members, can now enjoy playing privileges at Aviara.

For those Troon members unfamiliar with Aviara, we provide the following five highlights of the course and overall playing experience.

1. Immaculate landscape – On the first tee, the starter welcomes you to an 18-hole botanical garden, and that’s exactly what Aviara is. An amazing array of plants and flowers accent every hole. The course is truly a visual treat. There’s always something in bloom at Aviara.


2. Oversized greens –
Aviara is known for having greens the size of helipads. Get ready to stroke some of the longest putts you’ve ever hit if you can’t knock it close.

The greens are the course’s defining characteristic, which is funny considering they were originally a construction mistake. The construction crew doubled the size of the greens on the front nine. Rather than tear up the greens, course officials chose to double the size of the greens on the back to match.

The result is what you might term a happy accident, as players now look forward to the sizable undulating greens at Aviara.

3. Outstanding par 3s – The strength of the course is its par 3s, which many consider as a group to be the best in San Diego. Three of the four feature carries over water and are, again, impeccably landscaped. No. 3, a short par 3 with ponds in front and right, is considered the course’s signature hole. No. 6, the only one without water, is the toughest of the bunch. It’s a long uphill, a nearly 200-yard carry, to a blind green. An ocean crosswind can complicate matters even more here. The two par 3s on the back are all carry over water, with No. 14 being from an elevated tee box. You will want an iron and a camera phone on the par 3s because they are truly beautiful golf holes.

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Left: No. 11. Right: No. 14.

4. Sweet Treats – Aviara loves to tempt your sweet tooth. There are fresh-baked cookies available next to the putting green and a special treat waiting for you on the course. The course marshal usually greets you on the 8th green with a bucket of Tootsie Pops. Hopefully you’re walking off the green with birdie, but if not, you’ve at least go a consolation prize.

5. No. 18, a beauty and a beast – Besides having the best par 3s, Aviara may also boast the toughest closing hole in the county. This dogleg right offers a beautiful view of the Batiquitos Lagoon from the tee. Savor the view because you might not like what happens next. There’s water right, OB left and likely an ocean breeze in your face. Ideally, you want to place you tee shot just inside the fairway bunker on the left and we recommend clubbing down to a 3-wood if necessary to do it.

You just want to be in the fairway here and not the water. Then you’ve got a long, narrow approach into a green where water is still in play on the left, cascading down a gorgeous waterfall. Par is a great score here, but here’s guessing it’ll take you a few rounds to card one. After playing this course nearly a dozen times, I’m still waiting.


No. 18 at Aviara during the KIA Classic

To book a tee time at Aviara, call 760.603.6900. You can learn more about the course at www.golfaviara.com.

JC Golf: Carmel Mountain Ranch Closed, Being Transformed By Turf Reduction


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Update: Carmel Mountain Ranch will re-open Dec. 20. Go to www.jcgolf.com to book your tee time.

Brown is the new green in golf. You started hearing that adage at the U.S. Open, played on the native areas and sandy soils of the renovated Pinehurst No. 2.

Largely in response to the state’s severe drought, that turf reduction movement is now coming to California, and JC Golf’s Carmel Mountain Ranch is to be amongst the state’s first courses to be transformed by the process and reduce its footprint.

Roughly 50 acres of turf have been targeted for removal at Carmel Mountain Ranch, which will be closed until nearly the end of December during its $4.4 million renovation.

When the course re-opens, Carmel Mountain Ranch General Manager Kevin Hwang, says it will be lower-maintenance and therefore help conserve community water resources.

“We’re looking at saving nearly 30 million gallons a year by removing turf and replacing it with native plant material and ground cover,” he says. “After three or four years, that number will go up to 40 million gallons because the plants will be established and no longer need water except in cases of extreme drought.

“The water we’re saving goes back to the people and the community so they can use the water and it can stay in the reservoirs.”

Hwang used a comparison to put into perspective how aggressive a 50-acre removal is.

“The average golf course in Arizona is 60 or 70 acres total,” he says.

Hwang says every hole on the course was touched by the process, with much of the reduction coming between the tee boxes and the fairway.

“You’re going to see native material in the first 40 to 50 yards leading up to every fairway, and that’s a theme you’ll see on every hole,” he says.

Tee boxes are also being moved around as a part of the renovation process, which Hwang says is going to impact levels of players differently.

“The course will be equally challenging, if not more challenging, from the back tees,” he says. “As you move to the forward tees, the course should become more playable once we’re done with the renovations.”

Higher handicap players in particular will benefit for more generous landing areas, Hwang says.

In 2015, Hwang says golfers can anticipate an enhanced playing experience and a greater value for their rounds at Carmel Mountain Ranch.

“We want to establish a new level of service and make the experience for golfers that much better,” he says. “Also what we’re doing is very community-centric and we’re hoping to have more involvement with the community.”

Maderas: John Ashworth Q & A Part 2 – For the Love of Goat Hill and Wooden Clubs


Editor’s note: This is the second part of a Q & A with Linksoul founder John Ashworth. You can find part 1, where he talks about the launch, success and future of his new clothing brand, here: http://www.maderasgolf.com/maderas-q-and-a-with-john-ashworth.blog

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We now present Part 2 …

Earlier this year, John Ashworth, founder of Linksoul clothing company, purchased the lease to Goat Hill Park, a neglected long-time Oceanside public course that had been targeted for redevelopment.

When he submitted his bid, Ashworth says, half-jokingly, he was simply trying to protect his weekly golf round, but now he find himself as golf’s version of Bob Villa playing “This Old Course” and trying to resurrect the place, which is close to the I-5, with a new vision. At the moment, it’s the Charlie Brown tree of golf courses.
Goat Hill will be the home of the North County Junior Golf Association and, Ashworth hopes, a savior for kids in the area.

Right now, the course is a mix of bare fairways and crab grass, but as we walked nine recently, Ashworth saw beauty where others would only see blight.

To play on a phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the titleholder,” but the more you listen to Ashworth, the more you realize how determined he is to make a go of restoring and preserving the course.

Q. What’s your original connection to Goat Hill?

A. I played it in high school nine-hole matches in the mid 70’s when it was a nine-hole regulation par 36. Then my golf buddies and I started playing there about four or five years ago, and we watched the decline. We heard the city put out an RFP and we we’re afraid they were going to mess with our golf rounds. (Laughing.)
We put together a plan almost as a lark and our proposal was granted. I didn’t think we’d get it, then it was like, “Now what are we going to do?”

Q. What do you see here that others are missing?

It’s a cool spot that just needs a little love. It’s got a lot of great views, and it’s a challenging little course. If we had grass, we wouldn’t be able to keep people away.

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Left: One of the course’s tough-to-hit par 3s. Right: An ocean view overlooking I-5.

Q. But going back to the mission of your company, you were dismayed as a golfer that the course might close. Something about that troubled you.

A. It’s sad to see golf courses like this going away across the country. It’s a big loss, and I don’t think people even realize it. We need to have courses for kids and beginners, and that’s what this is.

Q. Beyond making the course playable again, what’s the bigger mission you see for Goat Hill?

A. We have to get to the course right, but the part I get fired up about is to have a safe haven for the kids in the neighborhood. It’s a tough neighborhood, and we want to have after-school programs and a caddy academy. We want to be a positive influence. We want to keep 13- and 14-year-olds out of gangs and off the streets.
That part is going to be really rewarding. Already is.

Q. What else do you want to see?

A. I want to have leagues, lots of leagues, and get the game back to what it’s supposed to be, which is great social outdoor recreation. I want to have couples leagues and senior’s leagues. I just want to get people out there together.

Q. And a persimmon league, correct? Why do you still play wooden clubs? Have you always?

A. I played woods growing up and in college and then changed after. I went back to woods about four or five years ago.

When you hit them good, it’s just so much better. It resonates in your body. I think there’s more of an art to it. You’ve got to swing a little slower, be a little more precise. But the reward is great when you hit it right. It actually feels better than metal.

Q. Your schedule shifts daily between the clothing company and the course now. You’ve got a lot going. Are you the type person who’s only happy when he’s crazy busy?

I didn’t think I was, but maybe I am. But the days are crazy. No day is typical. But what else am I going to do? It’s a challenge. And if it saves a couple kids, it’s totally worth it.

For everything the game of golf has given me, I have to give something back.


No. 18 at Goat Hill Park

JC Golf: A Basket Drill To Check Your Swing Path

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Photos courtesy of Southland Golf Magazine

Editor’s Note: This is a re-post of an instruction piece that ran in the Nov. issue of Southland Golf Magazine. It appears here with an additional photo.

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By Paul Miernicki of Twin Oaks as told to Corey Ross

Owning the first 16 inches of your swing is paramount to a good swing path and is the basis for this easy takeaway drill involving two range balls and a range basket.

Simply put on ball in front of the club (an iron) and one ball behind. Place a tipped bucket about 4 to 5 feet back with the opening facing you. This is your target.

The object of the drill is to take the back and roll the ball into the basket. This is an indicator of a proper takeaway, meaning on plane. If the ball goes to the inside or the outside of the basket, your club is too inside or outside as well.

This is a great drill because it gives all players a visual cue. And it’s especially practical for better players because it promotes a wide swing arc. In short, this drill lets you know your club is going back on the perfect path.

To book a lesson with Paul, call 760.591.4700.

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San Diego Tourism: SD’s Five Best Courses for Kids


Left: Oaks North. Right: Reidy Creek.

This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority. You can find this post on their site at http://www.sandiego.org/articles/golf/5-kid-friendly-golf-courses.aspx

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Golf is a game for all ages, but it’s now more kid-friendly than ever in San Diego thanks to a new way to play the game.

In late summer of 2014, two courses in San Diego installed 15-inch cups, making the hole about the size of a large pizza, as a part of TaylorMade Golf initiative termed “Hack Golf” designed to draw new players to the game by making scoring easier.

Oaks North in Rancho Bernardo and Lomas St. Fe, both executive courses, were among the first adapters. Oaks North dedicated its nine-hole east course to the new game while Lomas St. Fe committed all 18 holes, hosting a 15-inch cup and a regulation hole on each green.

The new game has especially been a hit with kids, juniors and couples, say course managers in the area.

“The holes are here to stay,” says Lloyd Porter, Head Professional at Oaks North. “This is for the next generation of golfers.”
Players on the “hack” courses also get the benefit of forward tees.

The following list of top courses for kids in San Diego starts with those two courses and includes others known for being particularly hospitable to kids, juniors and beginners.

1. Lomas Santa Fe Executive Course – Course architect William Bell is best known for designing Torrey Pines, but he also built this 2,431-yard gem in Solona Beach. Lomas has been named one of America’s “Top Short Courses” by Golf Range Magazine the past two years and consists of all par 3s, save two 4s, and has an ocean view from the eighth tee box. Lomas is also the only course in the county currently offering the 15-inch cups on 18 holes. The holes are all placed in the backs of the greens so as not to be obtrusive to regulation play. Lomas also offers Glow Ball night golf on a semi-monthly basis, giving beginners, kids and juniors another way to enjoy the game.

2. Oaks North – Nine of Oaks North’s 27 holes are set up for “hack” rounds, but all three executive nines are terrific for beginners.

The east course hosts the 15-inch cups, but even played with the forward tees, the new game hardly reduces the course to pitch and putt. Three of the tee shots are more than 200 yards, giving younger players ample room to swing away and hit clubs all the way through their bag.

The 15-inch holes are donated by flags with the number “15” and orange balls with the same number on the tee boxes.

JC Golf originally had an introductory offer of nine holes for $15 for the east course (cart not included), but visitors will find all three nines affordable, playable and walkable and the practice facility, which includes a 15-inch cup as well, a great place to learn and be taught.

3. St. Mark Golf Club/Lake San Marcos – These two courses in San Marcos are a doubly good destination for kids because they pair a playable regulation course (St. Mark’s) and an executive course in the same community complex.
St. Mark’s hosts a number of junior tournament. Its largely flat topography and manageable yardage (6,398 yards/par 71) make it ideal for juniors and beginners, though a long par-5 on the back and a severely elevated par-4 on the back provide a test.
Lake San Marcos’ recent renovation included new cart paths, but the course is plenty walkable and a pleasurable stroll while honing your iron and short-game play. A new clubhouse is also in the works.

4. Reidy Creek – Even if you’ve experienced a number of executive courses, chances are you haven’t played one like Reidy Creek in Escondido.
Two things in particular make Reidy Creek unique: the setting and its sophisticated greens.
The course winds through a wooded area in the shadow of the Escondido mountains, making it more like a miniature version of a regulation course than what people largely associate with executive courses.
Sometimes-severe bunkering and heavily sloping greens make scoring a challenging even though the course is played entirely with irons.
Reidy Creek is an aesthetically enjoyable and challenging way to learn the game.

5. Mission Bay – Located just minutes from downtown, Mission Bay is an executive course owned and run by the City of San Diego.
Speaking of setting, how do ocean breezes and night lighting work for you? You can enjoy both on this par 58 that includes four par 4s.
Unlike some executive courses, Mission Bay also has a driving range.
And if you like a little history with your golf, Tiger Woods won a Junior World title here once.

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