LATEST DRIVING IRONS • VALUES OF VALENCIA • CRAFT BEERS FOR THE COURSE
SHORT & SWEET
CALIFORNIA’S TOP NINE-HOLE COURSES
LOCAL SHINES IN U.S. AM
THE DROUGHT IS OVER
WILSON WINS U.S. SENIOR AM
A SHIFT TO MALLET PUTTERS
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/ CALIFORNIA GOLF + TRAVEL MAGAZINE /
Publisher’s Note Some of the best college golf courses in the nation
In the News What’s happening in California Golf
Men’s College Golf California’s Top Ranked Teams
Women’s College Golf UCLA Ranked No. 1
To the Viktor Goes the Spoils Hovland wins 118th U.S. Am
Fueled By Family The inspiring story of Devon Bling
The Most Deserving Champion After 34 attempts, Wilson breaks into USGA winner’s circle
Nine For Nine Our nine favorite 9-hole tracks in California
The Tale of Two Valencias Neighboring courses form partnership
Cruise La Costa New modes of on-course transportation
Iron Off the Tee Driving irons are all the rage
New Equipment The latest from Srixon/Cleveland Golf
Tips From the Short Game Guru We sat down with Dave Pelz
A Swing to Keep you Happy & Healthy Swing tips from the award-winning Randy Chang
Beer For the Course Expert craft brew selections
16 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2018 VOLUME 22, ISSUE 5 LATEST DRIVING IRONS • VALUES OF VALENCIA • CRAFT BEERS FOR THE COURSE
SHORT & SWEET
CALIFORNIA’S TOP NINE-HOLE COURSES
LOCAL SHINES IN U.S. AM
THE DROUGHT IS OVER
WILSON WINS U.S. SENIOR AM
A SHIFT TO MALLET PUTTERS
On the cover: The Links at Terranea Photo: Courtesy of Links at Terranea
Visit us online at calgolfnews.com and be sure to LIKE us at facebook.com/calgolfnews.
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SOME OF THE BEST COLLEGE GOLF COURSES IN THE NATION I
t’s that time of years again! The school year is in full swing so we took a look at five of the best college courses based on challenge of play, team performance, history and tradition. The Karsten Course (Oklahoma State University) Former OSU Head Golf Coach Mike Holder “envisioned a sanctuary for college golf back in the 1970s,” according to the course website. After many years of planning and fundraising, renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio was hired to create what is now Karsten Creek. Shortly after its opening in May of 1994, it was named the “Best New Course” in the country by Golf Digest. Named in honor of Ping founder and longtime OSU golf supporter Karsten Solheim, the hilly 7,408-yard course hosted the 2003 NCAA Championship and is intentionally kept in a challenging condition to allow team members to maintain their competitive edge. Stanford University Golf Course Legendary golf course architects William Bell and George C. Thomas designed Stanford University Golf Course in 1930. Located in the foothills above the Stanford campus, the course is consistently rated one of the finest courses in the world. Over the years, the challenging 6,869 yard, par-71 course has hosted many intercollegiate and non-collegiate events, including U.S. Open Qualifying, Women’s NCAA Championships, NCAA Regionals, Pac-10 Championships, a former Senior PGA Tour event (The Gathering at the Farm) and USGA Junior Amateur Qualifying. The Scarlet Course (Ohio State University) University officials say that famed golf course architect Alister MacKenzie submitted the original routing plans for the Scarlet Course in 1931 and construction was overseen by renowned architect Perry Maxwell. With labor provided by a government subsidy from the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, the course was completed in 1938.
Since then, it has been the site of several U.S. Open qualifiers, U.S. Amateur qualifiers, and the 1977 U.S. Junior Championship. In 2005, the Scarlet Course underwent a major restoration overseen by former Buckeye legend Jack Nicklaus, who concentrated on “restoring the course to the way Alister MacKenzie originally intended it to play.” The Yale Golf Course According to course officials, a 700-acre tract of swamp and woodland was given to Yale University in 1924 by Mrs. Ray Tompkins in memory of her husband. Under the supervision of Charles Blair Macdonald, a renowned golf course architect and co-founder of the USGA, plans were made for a classically challenging 18-hole golf course. With a budget of $400,000, Macdonald designed “a masterpiece,” which opened for play in 1926. Duke Golf Club (Duke University) The University golf course was first envisioned in the early 1930’s by Coach Wallace Wade, Coach Eddie Cameron and Duke President William Preston. By 1941, actual plans had been drawn up by Perry Maxwell on a site that is now the location of the Duke Faculty Club. According to the course website, construction was scheduled to begin prior to World War II, but when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the plans were put on hold by Duke’s Athletic Director. After the war, the plans resurfaced and the present site of 120 acres was selected. University officials then hired Robert Trent Jones Sr. as architect, and, on September 26, 1957, the course finally opened for play. It was 26 years later that Robert Trent Jones’ son, Rees Jones, was selected to oversee a major restoration that was completed in 1994. For more information and rankings, see PGA.com and linksmagazine.com. Enjoy your walk,
California Golf + Travel Publisher Eric Woods Editor Mark Spinn Art Director Long Tran Associate Editors Mike Stubbs, Suzy Evans, Ed Travis Senior Writers Jim Dover, Tom LaMarre, Feisal Patel Contributors Ian Leggatt, Ed Vyeda, Leonard Finkel, Tom Stankowski, Ken Lane, Chris Lynch, Ryan Noll Photographers Michael Weinstein, Tom Neas, Mark Susson Travel Editor Larry Feldman Equipment Editor Scott Kramer, Ed Travis Wine + Golf John Finney, Dan Weldy Contributing Instructors Eric Lohman, Kris Moe, Perry Parker, Ted Norby, Scott Heyn, John Ortega, John Burckle Accounting Jep Pickett
California Golf + Travel is published by Golf Lab Media LLC 1224 Village Way, Ste. D, Santa Ana CA 92705 Phone: (714) 542-4653 website: www.CalGolfNews.com California Golf + Travel is published bimonthly and distributed to California golf courses, country clubs, practice facilities, golf retailers, hotels, and resorts Entire contents of this publication is copyrighted Golf Lab Media LLC 2015, all rights reserved and may not be reproduced in any manner in whole or in part without the written permission from the publisher. For subscriptions, go to calgolfnews.com and sign up online or send your name, address, phone number, and $20 to Golf Lab Media at the Above address. For advertising opportunities and editorial information: Please call (714) 542-4653 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN THE NEWS
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GOLF ASSOCIATION
FIRST GREEN…THE SCIENCE OF GOLF
n late August at the City of Los Angeles’ Woodley Lakes Golf Course in Van Nuys, the SCGA brought together the city’s Golf Division, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and The First Tee of Los Angeles to put on the first of what promises to be many “First Green” programs at L.A.’s parkland golf courses. First Green is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education program that began in Washington State and was adopted by the GCSAA to expand it to wherever golf, kids and education intersect in America. The ambitious project promises to be impactful for many communities and the game of golf.
“By turning golf courses into classrooms, the GCSAA hopes to make connections between classroom learning and the real world,” said GCSAA Southwest Field Representative Jeff Jensen. The children were grouped by age and rotated through three separate educational stations. The different curricula included water conservation & water sources; a day in the life of a golf course superintendent; and a putting green session focused on hole cutting/ setting and golf course etiquette. While this particular day’s exercise was mostly about those things, the kids weren’t allowed to forget that golf is a fun game best enjoyed with friends and family. - scga.org
COURSE CLOSURES: GOOD OR BAD?
even course closures in San Diego over recent years, with the most being Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club in July, sparked an article by Tod Leonard in the San Diego Union Tribune. While on the surface, course closures may seem like a ominous sign for the industry and a bad thing for golfers who have one less option to choose from when making tee times, a deeper dive reveals that it could be simple economics. In the early 2000s developers pounced at the opportunity to build courses and residential communities as golf boomed under the golden days of Tiger Woods. Couple that oversupply with hikes in water cost (particularly in Southern California where a drought remains), increased labor rates and lifestyle changes, and decline in courses seems inevitable. There sim-
ply aren’t enough golfers to support the number of courses as operation costs increase. John McNair, Vice President of JC Resorts, which operates nine facilities in San Diego, was quoted as saying: “We need less golf courses, and that’s the bottom line. It continues to be the root of the problem. We probably need five or six more in San Diego County to go, and maybe another 20 in all of Southern California. It will be a slower trickle, but I feel pretty confident it’s going to happen.” What’s important for the industry and golfers to recognize is that closures aren’t necessarily a sign of golf being unhealthy. On the contrary, the attrition could signal that the golf market is autocorrecting so that it can remain healthy and vibrant for years to come. If you haven’t seen it, the Union Tribune article is worth a read.
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/ MEN’S COLLEGE GOLF /
Cal & Stanford: California’s Top Ranked Teams
The Stanford Cardinal men’s team will be led by coach Conrad Ray (above) and senior Brandon Wu (left). By Tom LaMarre
ccording to the preseason polls, it might be archrivals Cal and Stanford battling it out for men’s college golf supremacy in California and the Pac-12 Conference in the 201819 season. The Golden Bears, coached by Walter Chun, are led by All-American Collin Morikawa, a senior from La Cañada Flintridge, who has claimed four titles in his college career, including three last season. Morikawa also won the 2017 Northeast Amateur and posted a 4-0 record in helping the U.S. claim the 2017 Walker Cup. He was also 2-2 when the U.S. took the Palmer Cup en route to winning Amateurgolf.com’s Player of the Year Award for the second straight time. In 2016, he won the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Silicon Valley Amateur, a year after capturing the Trans-Mississippi Championship, shooting a tournament-record 64 in each of the last three rounds. Cal, which won its only NCAA title in 2004, also returns senior KK Limbhasut of Loma Linda, who also has won four times in his college career
including twice last season, while also claiming the 2017 Monterey Bay Championship. The Bears have two more seniors, Sebastian Crampton of Pacific Grove and Ben Doyle of La Jolla, and have added touted freshman James Song of Rancho Santa Fe and UC Santa Barbara transfer Kyle Maspat, a sophomore from San Diego. On the other side of San Francisco Bay, Stanford Coach Conrad Ray’s squad is led by senior Brandon Wu of Danville, who was second in the NCAA Pacific Regional last year and won the 2017 Porter Cup. The Cardinal, which claimed the last of its seven NCAA titles in 2007, also has senior Isaiah Salinda of South San Francisco, who recently won the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, and also captured the 2017 Northern California Amateur Championship, the San Jose City Championship and was a semifinalist at the 2018 U.S. Amatuer Championship. UCLA, which took home NCAA titles in 1998 and 2008, will rely on sophomore Devon Bling from Ridgecrest, who finished the summer by taking second in the U.S. Amateur and win-
ning the California State Fair Men’s Amateur. The Bruins, coached by Derek Freeman, also have senior Derek Madey, who this summer won the Sahalee Players Championship after winning the 2017 Oregon Amateur Championship in his hometown of West Linn, Oregon. The team also expects big things from freshman Sean Maruyama of Encino, the 2017 CIF State/SCGA Southern California Regional champion. USC, which surprisingly has never won an NCAA golf title, is led by senior Justin Suh of San Jose, who claimed five victories for the Trojans and Coach Chris Zambri last season including the Pac-12 title and this summer won the Northeast Amateur. Pepperdine, which claimed the NCAA title in 1997, returns senior All-American Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, who has two victories for the Waves and won the 2017 Sahalee Amateur. The Waves, coached by Michael Beard, are expecting an immediate contribution from freshman Joe Highsmith, who won the 2017 Washington State Men’s Amateur.
/ WOMEN’S COLLEGE GOLF /
UCLA RANKED NO. 1 BY TOM LaMARRE arrie Forsyth is starting her 20th season as head coach of the UCLA women’s golf team and it figures to be another to remember. The two-time national Coach of the Year led the Bruins to NCAA Championships in 2004 and 2011, and UCLA has been selected No. 1 in the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) national poll this year. The talented Bruins roster, which tied a school record with seven victories last season, is led by senior AllAmerican Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley, who last season set the school record with eight career victories, four each as a sophomore and a junior. Sophomore Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand is 1A for the Bruins, also having won four times last season, including the Pac-12 Conference Championship and the NCAA Women’s Western Regional. The Bruins have plenty of depth, with junior Mariel Galdiano of Hawaii, senior Beth Wu of Diamond Bar and junior Clare Legaspi of the Philippines. They also added highly-regarded freshman Isobel Wordle of England, who won the 2017 English Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, 2017 English Girls Open and the 2018 Portuguese Ladies Amateur. Stanford, which claimed its only NCAA Women’s Championship in 2015, is ranked No. 4 in the WGCA Rankings under Coach Anne Walker. The Cardinal have been to the NCAA tournament in each of Walker’s six seasons. Junior All-American Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach has three victories in each of her first two seasons on The Farm in addition to winning the 2016 and 2017 Southern California Women’s Amateur Championships. Junior Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland, No. 3 in the World Amateur Rankings, claimed her only college victory in the NCAA West Regional as a freshman and was second in the 2017 European Ladies Amateur Championship and the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
PHOTO: UCLA ATHLETICS
USC, which claimed its third NCAA title in 2013, is the third California team in the WGCA top 10 at No. 6 and will try to continue the success it had under Coach Andrea Gaston who is now at Texas A&M. Taking the helm will be new Coach Justin Silverstein. The Trojans feature sophomore Jennifer Chang of Cary, North Carolina and junior Allisen Corpuz of Hawaii both earned victories last season. Sophomore Alyaa Abdulghany of Newport Beach rounds out the top trio of Trojans. With Coach Nancy McDaniel entering her 24th season, Cal seems to be
Led by Coach Carrie Forsyth and senior Lilia Vu (above), UCLA begins the season as the No. 1 ranked women’s team in the country.
in a rebuilding mode and has landed freshmen Katherine Zhu of San Jose and Spaniard Elena Arias, who led Spain to the 2017 World Junior Girls Championship and won the Spanish Ladies International Stroke Play Championship the same year. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is No. 1 in the Division III poll, with Whitman College at No. 5 and Pomona-Pitzer ranked 14th, while Cal State-Monterey Bay sits at No. 22 in Division II.
/ U.S. AMATEUR AT PEBBLE BEACH /
PHOTO COPYRIGHT USGA/CHRIS KEANE
TO THE VIKTOR GOES THE SPOILS
he Norwegian-born Viktor Hovland put on a dominant display of golf en route to his victory at the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The 20-yearold Norwegian only trailed a single hole during the entire week of match play, which included victories over some of the world’s top amateurs such as the No. 2 seeded Cole Hammer. In the final round, he would meet UCLA sophomore Devon Bling, who was one of 45 Californians in the original field of 312. Hovland amassed a 6 & 5 victory over Bling in the 36-hole final, which was aided by a pair of improbable recoveries on the opening 18 holes. He managed to make an incredible birdie from the ice plants some 40 feet down an embankment to the right of the fourth green to win that hole, then saved par to halve the 18th hole after hitting his tee shot into the water. Even though it was early in the match, the birdie at No. 4 was a akin to a right book landing squarely on the chin of Bling. “He’s a great player. He’s in the championship match. You’ve got to hit shots like that to get there. It wasn’t too surprising, but definitely did hurt a little bit,” said Bling of Hovland’s birdie. “My coach kept telling me there’s a lot of golf…and to keep
battling and never quit.” Bling heeded the advice and made a few clutch putts along the way to keep the match within reach. However, Hovland’s momentum, which was fueled by great putting, proved too much in the end. “If you don’t make putts, it’s very hard to make or get momentum,” said Hovland, who helped Oklahoma State win its 11th NCAA title in May. “I felt in a couple places I made the right putts at the right time or I hit the right shots at the right time, especially against Cole Hammer (in the semis). “I always thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, but I’m lost for words,” added Hovland, whose lone previous victory was the Valspar Collegiate in 2018. “It’s really special. I’ve only won once before, and to win the U.S. Amateur as my second win is really cool. I just hope it’s the start of something great.” Hovland, who moved to No. 4 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), tied the record for the fewest holes needed to earn the Havemeyer Trophy (104) since the current match-play format was adopted in 1979. Bling, who was one of 13 Californians to make it to the match play portion, made seven birdies in his semifinal victory over fellow Golden State resident
Viktor Hovland won the U.S. Amateur with a resounding 6 & 5 win over Devon Bling in the final match. Isaiah Salinda. However, the string of birdies did not carry over to the final where he instead made six bogeys in the morning against Hovland. At just 18-years-old, making it to the final and competing at the highest level of amateur golf was an invaluable learning experience for Bling. Both Hovland and Bling will be back at Pebble Beach for the 2019 U.S. Open, as well as in Augusta for the Masters. In addition, Hovland secured at spot in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush. “I’ve grown up looking at all the guys playing in those tournaments and that’s going to be really special to just be a part of,” said Hovland. “I got to play my first European Tour event this summer...but I think playing Pebble Beach at the U.S. Open next year will be even more special.” The 119th U.S. Amateur Championship will be conducted at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina, August 12-18, 2019. Stroke play will be conducted on Course No. 2 and Course No. 4, with match play slated to take place on No. 2.
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/ U.S. AMATEUR PROFILE /
DEVON BLING: FUELED BY FAMILY
By Tom LaMarre evon Bling is mature well beyond his 18 years. Andrew Larkin, his assistant golf coach at UCLA and caddie for the 2018 U.S. Amateur, told the USGA: “At 17, he came into college a man, and that has to do with how he was brought up, what both his parents did for him. He’s as good as a kid as you will find.” Devon’s father, Nick, a Naval engineer, was nearby the entire week as his son navigated his way to the final of the 118th U.S. Am. His mother was there too, in spirit. Sara Bling passed away in 2013 following a sudden stroke. Devon was 13 at the time. His mother was the rock, driving him to practice and cheering him on during junior golf tournaments. “It took us totally by surprise. In an instant, she was there and totally healthy, and the next day she was gone,” Devon told the USGA. “Losing her was extremely difficult for my family. I know she’s still in my heart and looking down on me, and I’m just hoping to make her proud.” There is no doubt she would have been proud of the way he performed under the national spotlight. Bling posted a score of 75-70—145, 2-over par, at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill in stroke-play qualifying to earn the 41st spot in the 64-player match-play field. He was one of 13
Devon Bling Californians to make it into the match play portion. After never trailing while winning in the first two rounds of match play, Bling made a two-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole to beat No. 8 Noah Goodwin of Corinth, Texas in the Round of 16. Then his birdie on 18th hole beat No. 32-seed Davis Riley of Hattiesburg Mississippi, in the quarterfinals. A par on the last hole of the semifinals got him past No. 29 Isaiah Salinda of South San Francisco. Bling would win all five of his matches en route to the final, each time toppeling the higher seeded player.
PHOTOS COPYRIGHT USGA/CHRIS KEANE
What seemed to be a ride on the wings of destiny, ultimately fell just short. However, desipte his loss to Norwegian Viktor Hovland in the final match, Bling goes back to UCLA with a his confidence at an all-time high and his vision set squarely on his future in the game. “It wasn’t the day I was hoping for, but I played really well all week. It’s just the beginning, it’s not the end. Now I get to look forward to the U.S. Open and the Masters, so that’s definitely a lot of positives coming out of this week,” Bling said following the final match. “I learned that I can compete with the best amateur golfers in the world, that I am one of the best amateur golfers in the world. “The support I had was unbelievable,” he continued. “I had friends and family and teammates, and there were people crowded in restaurants back in Ridgecrest watching. I could feel all the support.” Bling could also feel the presence of his late mother watching over the majestic fairways of Pebble Beach. “She’s always with me,” he told the USGA. “Even when I hit a bad shot, I know she is there. She would just say, ‘It’s all right. It’s golf. It’s going to happen. Just gotta move forward and do better on the next shot.’ And she’s kept me moving forward.”
/ U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR REVIEW /
THE MOST DESERVING CHAMPION
AFTER 34 ATTEMPTS, WILSON BREAKS INTO THE USGA WINNER’S CIRCLE
By Tom LaMarre
eff Wilson of Fairfield, California, has had an illustrious amatuer golf career. He is the only golfer in the history of the United States Golf Association to earn medalist honors in the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. MidAmateur and the U.S. Senior Amateur. Earlier this summer he was the low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open, joining two-time USGA champion Vinny Giles III as the only competitors to earn that distinction in a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open. He’s won numerous amateur tournaments in California over the years and has been fourtnate enough to play in 34 USGA tournaments. Unfortuntalely, however, he never won one – until last August. That’s when the 55-year-old Wilson captured the 64th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship by beating defending champion Sean Knapp of Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 2 & 1 in the final at Eugene (Oregon) Country Club. In the process, he became the first medalist in 31 years to also take home the title. “Every time I’m listed, the only thing missing is a win,” Wilson said after winning his semifinal match the previous day. “You know, I’ve enjoyed playing (USGA championships) and I’ve had some success, but bottom line is I don’t have one.” It wasn’t for lack of effort. Wilson has been a medalist in USGA events six times. That includes three U.S. MidAmateurs where he advanced to the semifinals every time, only to lose to the eventual winner on all three occasions.
COPYRIGHT USGA/J.D. CUBAN
COPYRIGHT USGA/J.D. CUBAN
/ U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR REVIEW /
Amateur for the third time and losing in a playoff at the Northern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur. Then he joined Knapp as the only players to win the U.S. Senior Amateur in their first appearances. At 55 years, 2 months and 16 days, he is the third-youngest winner in U.S. Senior Amateur history. “I always thought I was good enough to be a USGA champion, but I never put the work in,” Wilson said. “And that shows up when the matches are on the line. This year, I put the work in.” By winning his first USGA title, Wilson guaranteed himself plenty of additional chances. He earned a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, an exemption into the 2019 U.S. Senior Open Championship, exemptions into the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Amateur Championships, exemptions into the 2018 and 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships, and an exemption out of local qualifying for the 2019 U.S. Open Championship. Now that he has broken through, there could be more USGA titles in Wilson’s future. COPYRIGHT USGA/J.D. CUBAN
Wilson gave some of the credit for winning his first USGA title to his experience in the 118th U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill just a few weeks prior, where he shot 75-74— 149 and missed qualifying for the match play portion of the tournament by two strokes. All it took was watching the young studs who were playing in the tournament. “The U.S. Amateur was really eye opening for me because I can’t practice like those kids do, but I sat on the range and I watched these kids, and they hit it hard, and there’s no real thought of the result afterward,” said Wilson, a big hitter among the seniors who on some holes was outdriving Knapp by 30 yards in the U.S. Senior Am final. “So, I watched the way they play, and I just go, ‘I can do that.’ And that’s kind of the way they play. They hit it really hard, and then they go run it down. And I said, ‘You know, there might be something to that.’” Wilson was already having a fine season in California, winning the Southern California Golf Association Mid-
FUN SIDE O F GOLF AT LA COSTA.
Host to 37 PGA Tour events, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa offers two championship courses with smooth greens and great service in a relaxed atmosphere. Now you can get around in style with new Golfboard electric vehicles and Phat Scooters. But don’t just tee off. Take your game to the next level with Golf Performance Institute, our innovative and enhanced educational programming.
ROB OGOLF P RO • T RUE S P EC C US TO M C LU B F I T T I N G • DAV E P E L Z S CO RI N G GA ME S C H O O L • G O L F BOAR D • PH AT S CO OTE R
/ NINE, 9-HOLE COURSES /
OUR NINE FAVORITE 9-HOLE COURSES IN
e get it, there are a lot things competing for your time and dollars these days. Whether it’s your kid’s soccer game, that weekend camping trip, the extra hours at work or date night with your significant other. Our calendars are filling up faster than Siri can compute. On top of it all, when you love to golf it can be challenging to find space for 18 holes in between events. That’s why we’re bringing you our Nine Favorite 9-Hole Courses in California. Many of these hidden gems offer challenging and diverse layouts with top-notch course conditions. Another thing, these nine-hole treasures are all very affordable: meaning less stress on your wallet and your calendar. By the way, if we told you that you could play a course designed by the same architect who crafted Augusta National for under $30, would you believe us? If you’re in the respective area of either of these courses, we highly recommend you take the two hours or less to check out what they offer.
Ben Brown’s Golf Course Laguna Beach, CA As part of the Ranch at Laguna Beach, Ben Brown’s Golf Course offers some of the most serine and wellconditioned golf you’ll find in Orange County. Off the beaten path, this nine-hole gem is carved into the rustic walls of the Aliso and Wood Canyons. The course is also GEO Certified – meaning that it has met a creditable environmental standard in the areas of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community. RATES: $35-$44
Ben Brown’s Golf Course 26
The Links at Terranea The Links at Terranea Rancho Palos Verdes, CA This L.A. oasis located at Terranea resort is no ordinary nine-hole par-3 course. Rather, it is a collection of nine championship-caliber par 3s, masterfully routed and integrated with each other and the natural surroundings. The dramatic Southern California oceanfront layout offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Artful bunkering, unobstructed sightlines and a wide range of classic strategic elements provide a big “wow” factor in a small package. It’s reasonably priced and incredibly memorable. RATES: $20-$55
Catalina Island Golf Course Avalon, CA Originally built by the Banning Brothers in 1892, the scenic Catalina Island Golf Course offers nine challenging holes over 2,100 yards and is the former home of the Bobby Jones Invitational. There are also two sets of tees for 18-hole play, a fully stocked golf shop, rental clubs and both electric and pull carts. It was first designed as a three-hole course before being expanded to nine holes in the early 1900s. It currently features five par 4s and four par 3s. The long, narrow course meanders through a canyon setting toward the ocean. Its small greens and deep bunkers are enough to challenge any golfer. RATES: $41-$50
Catalina Island Golf Course SEPT/OCT 2018
/ NINE, 9-HOLE COURSES / Penmar Golf Course Venice, CA What do municipal golf and real estate have in common? It comes down to location, location, location. Penmar Golf Course is just a few blocks away from Venice Beach and a skip from the Santa Monica Airport. The course is easily accessible and the perfect place to walk a quick nine holes. It has been ranked by Los Angeles Magazine as the “Best Nine Hole Course in L.A.” and was one of the SCGA’s Best Southern California Courses for Beginners. RATES: $10-$20
Penmar Golf Course
Peter Hay Golf Course
Eaton Canyon Golf Course Pasadena, CA Proposals from the City of Pasadena to transform Eaton Canyon Golf Course into a park were met with resistance from golfers. Ultimately, the historic nine-hole gem that’s owned by the County of Los Angeles and sits at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains was saved and will continue providing golfers with a fun and scenic nine-hole experience. Built in 1962, the par-35 layout stretches just less than 3,000 yards and is made up of three par 3s, four par 4s and two par 5s. RATES: $12-$21
Peter Hay Golf Course at Pebble Beach Resort Pebble Beach, CA Not everyone wants to kick in the $525 and two night minimum stay to play the world famous Pebble Beach and many don’t have the five hours it takes to play it. Peter Hay might be the perfect solution. “It’s tons of fun” might be an understatement and it’s even better when you can knock out nine in under an hour! This nine-hole course is perched at the top of the hill overlooking Pebble Beach Resort often with the whales splashing in the Monterey Bay in the distance. You can expect the course to be in great shape, but do to the small size and volume of play all of the tees are artificial turf. RATES: $30 and juniors (under the age of 12) play for free
Eaton Canyon Golf Course
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/ NINE, 9-HOLE COURSES / Northwood Golf Club Monte Rio, CA This may be the only place in the world where you can walk an Alister MacKenzie design for under $30. Northwood Golf Club is a special place, as it possess some of the same design elements that make golfers love Augusta National, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point, all while set amidst towering redwood trees. Contoured fairways and undulating greens are its calling card as the course runs adjacent to the Russian River. Built in 1928, this nine-hole wonder predates Augusta National and was completed at the same time as Cypress Point. RATES: $16-$38
Northwood Golf Club Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park San Francisco, CA Deservingly so, Gleneagles Golf Club at McLaren Park has received many accolades over its 50-plus years of existence. “Top 10 Golf Course” by Links Magazine; “Top 20 Best 9 Hole Courses in U.S.” by Golf World; and “Best Golf Course in San Francisco” by San Francisco Weekly. You can routinely find politicians, private club members, beginning golfers, scratch players and weekend warriors on the Gleneagles fairways. It’s truly a course that appeals to every golfer. Perhaps, that is the biggest testimony for the Jack Fleming design. It’s touted for its fast pace of play and even faster greens. In a region that houses some of the world’s best golf courses, Gleneagles should not be overlooked. RATES: $22-$25
Gleneagles Golf Course
Old Brockway Golf Course 30
Old Brockway Golf Course Kings Beach, CA Before the Bing Crosby Clambake became what’s presently the A&TT Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Crosby invited a group of friends to play a golf tournament at Old Brockway in 1934. That little tournament was the seedling for the annual celebrity golf showcase we’ve grown to love and regard. Resting on the California side of the Lake Tahoe shoreline, Old Brockway offers some memorable holes that remain largely untouched as it relates to the original design. The par-5 seventh is the longest hole on property at nearly 600 yards from the championship tees. RATES: $35-$45
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Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon | 36211 Champions Drive, Beaumont, CA 92223 | TukwetCanyon.com SEPT/OCT 2018 31
/ GOLF & TRAVEL /
Hole No. 15, Valencia Country Club
THE TALE OF TWO
n the shadow of Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park in Santa Clarita, there is a bit of magic for golfers. Sitting on the other side of I-5, Valencia Country Club has been the gem of northern Los Angeles County since it opened in 1965 as the centerpiece of the master-planned community of Valencia. Designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones and now owned by Arcis Golf, Valencia has been considered one of the best courses in Southern California since the day it opened.
In January, Arcis Golf also added TPC Valencia, which sits on the west side of the highway adjacent to Six Flags, to its portfolio and changed the name to The Oaks Club at Valencia. Now under the same banner, the verable Valencia clubs are about to offer special opportunities to their members and guests. â€œWe have a unique situation where members at Valencia Country Club and The Oaks Club can upgrade to the Valley Membership where it gives them access at the other club (with some restrictions),â€? said Hide
COURTESY OF VALENCIA COUNTRY CLUB COURTESY OF VALENCIA COUNTRY CLUB
COURTESY OF VALENCIA COUNTRY CLUB
Clubhouse at Valencia Country Club
Yoshinaga, PGA Director of Golf at Valencia C.C. “Or a prospective member can join the Pinnacle Membership, where you are full members at both clubs.” Both golf courses offer memorable and diverse playing experiences. Valencia plays to 7,076 yards from the back tees with a par of 72, a rating of 74.7 and a slope of 138, but there are five sets of tees to make it playable for golfers of all abilities. The three-hole finish is considered one of the best stretches of golf in Southern California. No. 16 is a 202-yard par 3 over water, which
Hole No. 12, Valencia Country Club
is followed by a daunting 466-yard par 4 and the uphill 18th is a par-5 that stretches 566 yards. The Oaks Club is a breathtaking par-72 course that plays to 7,218 yards and is set amidst the hills adjacent to the Stevenson Ranch community. It provides spectacular, sweeping views of the Santa Clarita Valley and features a 32,400-square-foot clubhouse created in old California ranch-style architecture. Commonly known as “Big V,” Valencia Country Club has a storied history that includes hosting many of the game’s greatest players. It hosted the 1998 Northern Trust Open, formerly the Los Angeles Open and currently known as the Genesis Open, because its traditional site of Riviera Country Club was hosting the U.S. Senior Open that year. That year’s Northern Trust featured the cream of the crop on the PGA Tour, including Fred Couples, John Daly, Nick Faldo, Justin Leonard, Tom Lehman, Tom Kite, Phil Mickelson, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler, Duffy Waldorf and Payne Stewart. However, the crowds naturally flocked to Tiger Woods, a 23-year-old budding legend who was playing in what he considered his hometown even, since he grew up down I-5 in Cypress.
COURTESY OF THE OAKS CLUB AT VALENCIA
COURTESY OF THE OAKS CLUB AT VALENCIA
/ GOLF & TRAVEL /
The Oaks Club was formerly part of the TPC Network. Woods played in his first PGA Tour event at Riviera in 1992 when he was 16 and longed to win the tournament. Down the stretch that Sunday at Valencia it seemed he would. Tiger birdied three of the last four holes – which, as mentioned earlier, included the toughest stretch at Valencia. However, 54-hole leader Billy Mayfair also birdied the last hole to force a playoff, which started and ended on the par-5 18th. Woods pushed his drive to the right, landing near the driving range fence. From there, he still maanged to hit the green in regularion before barely missing a 15-foot birdie putt. Mayfair hit a brilliant third shot and sank a five-foot birdie putt to win. Tiger still has still not won the old Los Angeles Open. Valencia also hosted the SBC Senior Championship on what is now the PGA Tour Champions, from 2001 through 2009.
34 SEPT/OCT 2018
Hole No. 6, The Oaks Club at Valencia The greats of the game came to the Santa Clarita Valley year-after-year, including Gary Player, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Fuzzy Zoeller, Curtis Strange, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, O’Meara and many more. In 2003, Tom Purtzer rolled in an improbable 58-foot eagle putt on the final hole, coming from two strokes behind to beat Gil Morgan. Morgan made a bogey on the final hole, missing a putt that would have forced a playoff. However, Morgan would come back to win the following year. Other winners of the tournament at Valencia included Jim Colbert, Des Smyth, Denis Watson, Dan Forsman, plus Kite and Purtzer, who each won it twice. Purtzer turned back Loren Roberts in a four-hole playoff in 2007. The Oaks at Valencia, designed by PGA Tour Design Services and at one time part of the TPC Network, has its own share of history with the game’s top players. Two-time major champion Mark O’Meara was on the design team that built the challenging and picturesque course – which opened in 2004. “Even though this is a TPC course and there are going to be tournaments here, I want everybody to be able to putt on these greens,” O’Meara said at the time of the opening. “If the greens are too difficult for the people who are going to pay to play the course, it’s not going to work. I think it’s going to be a really good course that anyone can play.” As neighbors, Valencia and The Oaks offer very different experiences. Together, they provide members and California golfers the opportunity to enjoy a unique golf doubleheader.
PHOTOS: OMNI LA COSTA RESORT
PHOTO PATRICK KEEGAN
/ LOCAL KNOWLEDGE /
CRUISE THE OPEN
magine that you’re cruising with the wind in hair just minutes away from beautiful Southern California beaches. It’s just you, the open fairways and your golf clubs. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad has made that vision a reality. This summer, the resort added a fleet of eight Phat Scooters – single-rider, throttle-powered electric scooters that secure your golf clubs while offering a smooth ride around the course. Wide tires provide ultra stability and are designed to not leave imprints on the turf. In fact, at La Costa, golfers can scoot around the fairways even when the “cart path only” signs are out and take them right up to the green. According to Dustin Irwin, the resort’s PGA Director of Golf, Phat Scooters offer a number of benefits for both the facility and the golfers who opt for them.
“The individual mode of transportation around the golf course is really appealing to a lot of people,” he says. “Slow pace of play is plaguing the game, and technology like this can really speed up the pace and make a difference in the fun factor. Resort guests are loving it so far. People have told us that using the Phat Scooter has made it the most fun round of golf they’ve ever played, and they will no longer play any other way.” Increased pace is a biggie. Because the scooters are single rider, you can stroll right up to your golf ball without the added time of waiting for your playing partners. Over the course of a round, it adds up to significant time savings. If you really want to speed things up, Phat Scooters can be kicked into high gear where they have a top speed of 20 mph. They also have two lower tier set-
tings (with top speeds of 8 mph and 12 mph) for those who just want to cruise. The scooters join an existing army of GolfBoards and traditional golf cars at La Costa. Next likely comes Club Car’s remote-control-operated Rover caddie. “Phat Scooters and GolfBoards have been very well received at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Our goal bringing them in was to offer unique experiences for members and guests, attract new customers and speed up pace of play,” says Irwin. “With these vehicles, we check all three boxes. As a bonus, it’s been an additional revenue source.”
CA_Golf_news_FULLPAGE_Fall18_Layout 1 9/5/2018 1:40 PM Page 1
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IS IT TIME YOU SWITCHED TO A MALLET PUTTER? MANY TOUR PROS HAVE BY ED TRAVIS istance control is the key to putting. That’s no secret. However, most recreational players don’t know that the slightest mis-hit can dramatically affect how far the ball rolls. Distance control is much easier with consistent impact, which helps ensure that the ball comes off the face the same way time after time. It’s also important to note that nobody hits the center of the face every time, not even the pros. With that said, perhaps you noticed many professionals on the PGA Tour using mallet putters, and the primary reason is increased forgiveness. Mallet-style heads offer higher MOI (moment of inertia or resistance to twisting) – so the ball retains more speed, even when ball-to-putter contact is not in the exact center of the face. Because mallet putters have larger heads than blade styles, manufacturers can use a variety of design characteristics to move more weight to the perimeter of the putter head. The results: Even when contact is not exactly centered, energy is transferred to the ball more consistently and its roll is much closer to that of a center strike. The bottom line is the more solid and consistent the impact, the better putter you will be. Could now be the time you switched? For what it’s worth, Tiger Woods opted to switch out his longtime flat stick – Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS blade – and into a TaylorMade TP Black Copper Collection Ardmore 3 with a polymer insert the company calls Pure Roll. Woods used this mallet-style putter for much of the 2018 season, including in his epic run at the 100th PGA Championship, before switching back to his traditional blade style. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson also switches between mallet and blade-style putters, while Jason Day has used a mallet-style his entire career and currently leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting. If you are looking for help making more putts (who isn’t), we’d recommend testing some mallet putters. Here are some of the current models we like:
Bettinardi BB39 ($300): The soft carbon steel head weights 350 grams and has Bettinardi’s Super-Fly face milling. The head features an elongated flange with rounded edges.
Cleveland TFI 2135 Cero ($150): This single bend heel shafted putter has a polymer TPU insert behind the milled face, high contrast raised sightline and 370-gram head weight.
Evnroll ER7CS ($359): Another great design from Guerin Rife, the centered shafted 100-percent milled head features perimeter weighting with 8-degrees of toe hang and an extremely wide sweet spot.
Odyssey Red Ball ($180): The Red Ball design helps you keep your eyes over the line. Versa contrast coloring further assists with alignment while the putter also features a White Hot RX face insert and face balanced head.
Scotty Cameron Futura 5S ($380): This straight shafted, multi-material head with wrap around face-to-sole design is face balanced, has vibration dampening design and adjustable sole weights. TaylorMade Spider Tour ($300): As the single most played mallet model on the PGA Tour, it’s face balanced, has extreme MOI (4900+), perimeter weighting, a Pure Roll insert and vibration absorbing foam.
4 SEPT/OCT 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DRIVING IRONS BY ED TRAVIS any club manufacturers recently introduced new offerings to the driving iron category. You may have even noticed an uptick in marketing the superpowered low-lofted clubs. That occurred particularly around the Open Championship at Carnoustie, where stinging iron shots off the tee was all the rage. That extra exposure may partly be why someone asked me the other day: “What exactly is a driving iron and why do I need one?” First off, you probably don’t need one unless you have a higher-than-average swing speed, but let’s explore the initial question to fully understand why. Twenty years ago, a few specialty clubs populated the driving or utility iron category. However, TaylorMade Golf, with all their club design and marketing expertise, then introduced the Rescue club. It caught on fast and helped create a new category of clubs called hybrids – with Adams Golf soon becoming a category leader with the “upside-down” Tight Lies clubhead. As hybrids developed, several makers made significant strides with the easy-to-hit and forgiving clubs that drove long irons out of the bag for recreational players. Results for average players were dramatic. Rather than struggling to master 2, 3 or 4 irons, it was much easier to substitute hybrids that consistently got the ball airborne with good distance from almost any lie. Elite players with higher swing speeds tended to keep long irons, although they might have carried a hybrid for special situations. They liked having the lower more controllable trajectory that irons could provide; something hybrids of the similar lofts could not achieve. While hybrids got the ball up in the air, they were hard to hit exact yardages – something elite players deem a must-have. This need was filled by the modern driving iron, which has a somewhat larger head than traditional long irons. Since almost all have a hollow construction, they can have more face flex at impact than typical irons and can generate extremely fast ball speeds. Heavier clubheads give them more consistent trajectory than hybrids, though in fact most users do not see a distance increase. Driving irons do however have a special appeal to those wanting an iron-like profile, not the “mini-fairway wood” look of hybrids, and the ability to more precisely control trajectory and distance. If a driving iron could be a reasonable addition to your set, here are the ones we like:
Callaway X-Forged UT ($250 steel shaft): A tungsteninfused insert increases MOI. It features an iron-like head shape, 360 Face Cup technology and a CG positioned to promote forgiveness. Lofts: 18°, 21°, 24°, 27°, 30° Cobra KING Utility ($200 steel shaft): The hollow body construction features a low center of gravity with a highstrength stainless steel face that flexes for more distance. A thin PWRSHELL body and tungsten toe weighting accent it. Lofts: 18°, 21° Ping G400 Crossover ($229 graphite shaft): With a CG positioned for control and a 20-gram tungsten toe weight to resist twisting, it’s designed be forgiving and accurate. A machined thin maraging steel face promotes distance while a narrower sole reduces turf drag, all packaged inside a Hydropearl finish. Lofts: 19°, 22°, 25° TaylorMade GAPR LO ($250 graphite shaft): A smaller “player’s” profile head, Speed Pocket and hollow clubhead injected with SpeedFoam combine to increase ball speed. It features a low-forward center of gravity and Loft Sleeve adjustability. Lofts: 17°, 19°, 22° Tour Edge CBX Ironwood ($200 graphite shaft): A hollow body design and rounded hybrid-like sole make it more forgiving. The L-Cup variable thickness forged face offers maximum rebound and low spin trajectory for added distance. Lofts: 17°, 19°, 22°, 25°
4 SEPT/OCT 2018
WHAT’S NEW FROM CLEVELAND & SRIXON BY ED TRAVIS rixon and their division Cleveland Golf, which specializes in wedges and putters, have an impressive lineup of new clubs and balls for 2019 that you should know about. Here is a brief rundown with the most important features of each, including the Srixon Z 85 series of woods and irons, the new Cleveland RTX 4 wedges and two new ball models: the Srixon Q-Star Tour and the new Soft Feel.
Srixon Z 785 and Z 585 drivers: A rolled titanium cup face wraps from crown to sole. The 460cc clubhead and is larger for more flex to increase ball speed. A five-layer carbon crown pushes weight towards the perimeter, producing better shot stability and less dispersion. Z 785 is designed for a lower, more penetrating ball flight and has an adjustable hosel while the Z 585 is weighted for higher launch and more forgiveness. Both available in either 9.5° or 10.5° lofts. Stock Shafts: Z 785 – Project X HZRDUS Black 65 Z 585 – Project X HZRDUS Red 65
Srixon Z F85 Fairway Woods: An aggressivelooking head shape at address produces the flatter trajectory preferred by better players. A carbon fiber crown in both 3-wood models helps perimeter weighting for more forgiveness. The crown has a step down to lower the center of gravity in order to aid launch. Lofts: 3+ (13.5°), 3-wood (15°) and 5-wood (18°). Stock Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Red 65 stock shaft.
Srixon Z H85 Hybrids:: A larger more forgiving profile combines with Crown Step technology to lower the center of gravity and produce consistent distance. Lofts: 2 (16°), 3 (19°) and 4 (22°). Stock Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 85
Srixon Z 585 Irons: These irons are designed to give more distance with the look and feel of a player’s iron. They are forged from soft carbon steel with a Tour V.T. sole for smoother contact with the turf, while the face has an internal channel for more flex and more distance. The long irons have a wider sole to improve forgiveness. Stock Shaft Options: Nippon Modus 3 Tour 105 (steel) Miyazaki Kaula (graphite)
Srixon Z 785 Irons: While a compact forged head looks like a blade at address, the cavity back promotes more forgiving performance and shot-shaping. A Tour V.T. sole design provides better turf interaction. These irons are played by Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell. Stock Shaft: Nippon Modus 3 Tour 120
Srixon Z U85 Utility Irons: A compact forged head with hollow body construction make these a great substitute for traditional long irons or hybrids – if added distance and trajectory control is desired. They are available in six different lofts, from 2-iron (18°) to 6-iron (29°). Stock Shaft: UST Recoil 95 (graphite)
Cleveland RTX 4 wedges: Cleveland’s reputation for making great wedges is well deserved. Four sole grinds and three finishes are offered with the new RTX 4 wedges, and each has the company’s fourth generation Tour Zip grooves and Rotex face milling to produce more spin and more control on every shot – even from the rough. The Full grind is a traditional bounce, the Mid grind has a V-shaped sole, the Low grind is a C-shape and the XLOW grind is designed for playing tight lies with an open face. Wedges are available in lofts from 48° to 60° depending on the sole grind.
Srixon Q-Star Tour: Combining a lower-compression Energetic Gradient Growth Core with the new 338 Speed Dimple pattern means more distance and less spin off the tee. The reduced spin lends itself to tighter dispersion and accuracy from tee to green. The thin urethane cover has the third generation of Srixon’s Spin Skin for better greenside spin control. This threepiece ball is available in either white or yellow, and is targeted for use by players with medium swing speeds. Srixon Soft Feel: Their tagline is “Distance Never Felt This Good” and the new 11th generation Soft Feel ball is a new two-piece construction available in Soft White or Tour Yellow with Soft White and Passion Pink for ladies. All have Srixon’s Energetic Gradient Growth Core for a high-launch, low spin trajectory off the tee designed to produce more distance. The cover is also softer and thinner to help with greenside control and the dimple pattern has been upgraded to a 338-dimple design. The new Soft Feel sells for $19.99 a dozen.
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Q&A … A QUICK NINE WITH DAVE PELZ
SCORING TIPS FROM THE SHORT GAME GURU CG+T: When golfers are practicing, what percentage of time should they dedicate to short game and putting? Dave Pelz: I’d like to see golfers divide their practice time into thirds: Onethird on the short game, one-third on putting and one-third on the full swing, in that order. The first part of practice should always be dedicated to preparing for the par-5 wedge approaches and greenside shots they’re certainly going to face. Lag putting before a round will get your putting muscles engaged and also show you how the greens are rolling. I’d like to see golfers develop high, mid and low shots they can trust when 14 to 20 yards from the pin, because that’s a distance you’re going to find yourself recovering from frequently. Q: Why don’t more people do that? Most golfers spend 80 to 90 percent of their practice time hitting woods and irons because they want to be sure
they’re “dialed in” to their swing fundamentals. They say, “If I can’t get to the green, then nothing else matters.” But the truth is, and our data shows this, golfers actually lose 80 percent of their shots to par from inside of 100 yards. So you really need to make time to practice your short game and putting. Not having time to travel to a good practice facility is another factor. The good news is you can practice your short game and putting habits anywhere. Grab a laundry basket at home and some backyard-safe practice balls (almostGOLF balls are great) and practice hitting to a target you’ve set at a known distance. There are also great teaching aids available to work on your putting at home on your carpet. Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when hitting pitch and chip shots? A: Ball position is a killer for many golfers. Most golfers don’t chip with
the ball far enough back in their stances. Playing the low-running chip (with a 7- or 8-iron so the ball comes off low and rolls out) off your back foot will help you avoid hitting it fat. A pitch shot should be played with a more-lofted wedge and the ball positioned in the center of your stance. Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when putting – especially inside five feet? A: Most golfers practice putting without feedback. They simply putt. Practicing with learning aids can help you determine if your misses and makes are a product of aim, stroke or green reading. You have to know this if you’re going to improve your weaknesses and putt consistently. I don’t intend to do a plug for the Putting Tutor – which I designed with Phil Mickelson – but helps golfers groove a good stroke, aim putts and work on green reading. Feedback is crucial.
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Phil Mickelson, a longtime students of Dave Pelz, has wowed the golfing world with his short game for more than 20 years.
Q: Should average golfers really have a 60-degree wedge in their bag? A: Absolutely. The way present-day greens and their surroundings are designed, you have to have loft and good spin to stop the ball close to the hole. A 60-degree wedge is no more difficult to hit than a 52- or 56-degree club – if you accelerate the clubhead through and past impact. Once a golfer uses a lob wedge for a while, it becomes a favorite club and a go to weapon. Without it, you’re just making the game harder. All the tour pros use 60-degree wedges, and the more greens you miss, the more you need one. Q: How much of an impact do different grass surfaces have regarding short game techniques? A: When you find your ball, you have to assess its lie before you decide how you’re going to play the next shot. For soft, fluffy lies, you’ll want a club with more bounce. Less bounce for shots from tight lies. If you’re catching the ball cleanly and playing the right amount of bounce, you’ll manage different grasses just fine. Firm and fast conditions will put a premium on clean contact and the proper amount of backspin. Q: If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
I’d let amateurs anchor their putters if they wanted to and I’d give them back their boxed-grooved wedges. Q: The major golf organizations – USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour and LPGA Tour – are all seeking ways to attract new players to the game. This is especially so with millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them – what would you advise be done? A: Non-traditional golf venues like Topgolf are great, but imagine what we could do if we reinforced new-golfer participation by allowing people to learning the game “from-the-hole-out.” Nobody is going to master the 280yard drive with a baby cut right off the
bat. You have to have instruction and suitable venues where people can learn to go from short putts to longer putts and from chips shots to pitches, before they get thrown into full swings. Golf’s learning curve can be steep enough to scare people away. So we have to address that by keeping putting and the short game fun and engaging with games, drills and quality instruction. Q: We’re curious… if you had to rank the top short games you’ve ever seen, who would you select? A: Phil Mickelson has the best short game ever, but Patrick Reed is nipping at his heels. Ben Crenshaw is the best putter I’ve ever seen, with Brad Faxon and Jordan Spieth being almost as good.
DAVE PELZ is golf’s foremost authority on the short game and putting. In his four decades of teaching, 10 of his professional students have won a total of 20 majors. Golf Digest called Pelz, author of eight instructional books and producer of 150 30-minute instructional shows on Golf Channel, one of “Golf’s 25 Most Influential Figures of the 20th Century.” Each year, Pelz’s schools in Florida, California, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, New York, Michigan and Ireland help thousands of golfers improve their scores. Visit www.pelzgolf.com for more information.
The Body-Friendly Swing O
ne of golf’s most attractive qualities is that it’s a game for a lifetime. You can play it at any stage, whether you’re young or old, short or tall, slim or round. However, many golf instructors, my self included at times, have been guilty of teaching a golf swing that can cause injuries and ultimately prevent people from enjoying the game. How many times have you heard “keep your head down?” When you keep your head down well past impact, you’re creating a disassociation between the upper body and the lower body. While there’s no denying that this position will create speed and power in the golf swing, the question is how and at what expense? Keeping your head down well past impact, while the hips have already cleared and face the target, imparts a great deal of stress on the lower back. I liken it to cracking a whip. The disassociation of the lower and upper body creates tension, and then the energy is released during the swing. In many cases, the lower back serves as the fulcrum. For junior golfers, who are limber, lean and flexible, this action is no problem. However, by teaching them this at a young age, there’s a good chance that we’re setting them up for inevitable lumbar damage down the road. With these thoughts in mind, I’ve begun teaching what I call “the bodyfriendly swing.” It starts with a rotational foundation, which encourages you to allow your upper body, lower body, head and shoulders to turn freely in unison. To demonstrate the concept, a drill that I show my students is the bag turn (pictured). Holding my golf bag with both arms out in front of me, I get into address position and then rotate away from the target allowing my head, arms and upper body to turn. I then turn everything in unison until I’m completely facing the target with the bag still held out in front of me. These rotational turns will keep your back more stable throughout the swing and vastly decrease the likelihood of injury over time. I encourage you to begin thinking about how your swing is affecting your body and your long-term health. As a golf instructor, my lasting goal is to make sure that you can play this game for a lifetime.
RANDY CHANG is the PGA Director of Instruction at The Journey at Pechanga in Temecula and Talega Golf Club in San Clemente. He is also the 2010 Southern California PGA Teacher of Year the Year, a member of the Southern California Teaching Hall of Fame and a Golf Channel Academy instructor.
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BEER FOR THE COURSE
Three SoCal Breweries to Help You Oil Your Swing
he golf course: The one place where no one thinks twice about the crisp crack of a cold brew at 7 a.m. Let’s be honest, as the unspoken antidote to first tee jitters, nothing eliminates the mental battle of “don’t top it and please hit it past the red tees,” like the calming taste of craft beer. In some circles, the potential of a good round increases with beer consumption. “Swing oil,” I believe they call it. How do you enjoy beers during your round? Are you sipping a clean crisp pilsner
Name: Bait Ball Style: IPA (unfiltered) Description: A raw, unfiltered IPA brewed with Pilsner 2 Row, white wheat and heavily hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic. ABV: 6.6% COMPANY INFORMATION Location: Costa Mesa, CA www.GunwhaleAles.com Instagram: @GunwhaleAles
to ease into the round or crushing IPAs? Whatever your preference, Beer Savage has selected three breweries in Southern California that offer many styles to satisfy all beer drinkers. They each have their own unique style and story to share. Swing by and grab some cold ones for the course. Good things stumble to those who channel their inner savage! – Beer Savage Follow on Instagram @BeerSavage www.BeerSavage.com
Beach Grease Beer Co. Name: Pistons & Palms Style: Pilsner Description: Clean west coast style hoppy pilsner with aroma of grapefruit peel and lemon. Dry with lots of citrus notes. ABV: 5% COMPANY INFORMATION Location: Vista, CA www.BeachGreaseBeerCo.com Instagram: @BeachGreaseBeerCo
Name: Good Guy Style: Pale Ale Description: American Pale Ale with Belma, Mosaic and Citra hops. ABV: 5.2% COMPANY INFORMATION Location: Vista, CA www.BoozeBros.com Instagram: @BoozeBros
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