It is with great pleasure that I post to inform HOG patrons of a major HOG World Tour event taking place in July of this year. I’ll be heading to Scotland for a third time and checking out many new courses in the Scottish northeast. Courses on the list for that swing are Fraserburg Golf Links, Cruden Bay, and Royal Aberdeen.
Cruden Bay – Hole #8
Following those courses the HWT will be back in St Andrews for a third time. On the way south we will be stopping to to play Panmure at Carnoustie, then on to St Andrews proper. Courses on that list include the tremendous Kingsbarns Golf Links, the Old Course, the New Course, Eden Course, Castle Course, Jubilee Course, Strathtyrum, and Balcomie Links.
I’m thrilled. Not a day goes by that I don’t daydream about the upcoming July tour. I’m not in golf shape yet. I put on some insulation over this brutally cold and snowy winter. I look forward to getting into golf and walking shape and of course, getting my game ready for real golf. Links golf.
Recently the Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour spent some time at Pechanga Resort & Casino, located in Temecula, California. My stay was fabulous and I enjoyed as much of the amenities, food, and golf as I could squeeze in. I didn’t get to it all, so I hope to return and finish the job soon! Let’s take a look at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Pechanga Hotel Left – Golf Clubhouse Right
Pechanga is a resort/casino which features 517 luxurious rooms of varying levels. The casino area is enormous, as big as any mega-resort in Vegas. As one walks in the main entrance, indoor waterfalls and interesting interior design please the eye.
Within the casino areas just about any form of gaming one would like to experience is there, from blackjack, craps, slots, to a massive bingo parlor. It’s all there.
It would take a week of three-meals per day to scratch the surface on Pechanga’s dining offerings, from fine dining to a food court which rivals large malls.
After a long day of recreating, work, or winning megabucks at the casino, Pechanga offers a full spa with various treatments and services.
Last but not least, “The Journey” at Pechanga is the on-site golf course which features fantastic views, elevation changes, and prime golf conditions. Check out the Hooked On Golf Blog Journey at Pechanga review here.
Location Location Location
What would a perfect golf/casino/resort location be? I’d say somewhere warm with access to major international airports, perhaps close to major metropolitan areas. And to put it over the top I’d say it would be located in a great area for vineyards wine. Pechanga fits the bill on all accounts. The resort is located almost exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego in Temecula, California. When I was flying in I was able to choose flights by comparing cost to LA or San Diego airports. This time around, it was the best deal to fly into San Diego and take the 45-60 minute drive north to Temecula.
Today was likely the last round I’ll ever play at one of my all time favorite golf courses, Wingpointe. Wingpointe is at the Salt Lake City International Airport. The course is known as “Utah’s Links,” and is the design of well known golf architect Arthur Hills.
14th Hole – Wingpointe Golf Course
The city of Salt Lake owns/operates the course and will be shutting it down November 15th, 2015. It’s a damn shame.
Panorama view of Wingpointe’s 3rd and 4th holes
I have many great memories at “Wingy” and she will be missed. Somehow, despite the bad soil there, the greens were always fantastic.
Panorama of Wingpointe’s 13th and 14th holes
For many years Wingpointe was my home course, and I had a nice relationship with the pro Lynn Langren. From the black tees, the course is (soon to be was) one of the most challenging courses in the state, especially with wind.
The course seemed to always fit my eye and I’ve shot many great rounds there under par.
If it isn’t too cold I may try to play it on the last day it is open, if it isn’t covered in snow.
We are constantly bombarded with golf’s bad press and the whining that the game is dying, shrinking, and losing players by the thousands. So what’s the answer? Raise green fee prices!
Wingpointe Golf Course
A local course is going to be shut down here in Salt Lake called Wingpointe. It’s the airport course. As its life comes to an end, they’re offering a farewell price of $25 per round, with cart, roughly half of what that would normally cost. Guess what? The place is jammed. We called for a tee time and the entire sheet was jammed.
Price goes down, demand goes up.
Price goes up, demand goes down.
Simple economics, right? So why the hell do many who manage golf courses not get this? What’s better? Having a course with 10 players on it at $50 a pop, or a course with 100 players on it at $25 a pop? And what about the money those extra 90 players spend on range balls and in the cafe? Some may even buy some balls or even apparel and gear in the pro shop. How much more could the course make in BEER sales alone with an extra 90 players a day?
Another shop in town gets that. A certain times of year, like when they are aerating, they offer smoking deals like the 50% off one above. Guess what? The course is packed. And when it offers those great prices it builds up a customer base. It builds up relationships with customers who will come back.
I know all this is just crazy talk. You golf courses and dumb municipalities who run them go ahead and carry on. When you’re sucking wind and losing money, go ahead and raise your prices even more. Run the rest of your remaining customers off. You might as well go out of business sooner. Perhaps someone will buy your course for pennies on the dollar and run it better than you.
Pop quiz: What’s the first thing golf courses who just switched to a new automated sprinkling system do?
For decades Bonneville Golf Course here in Salt Lake City, Utah has been the most popular public course in the state and for good reason. It is awesome. For decades the course has been known for being a “hard and fast” course which calls for the player to accurately calculate approach shots, landing them at just the right place. Some shots needed to hit short and bounce up in order to stay on the putting surface.
Commonplace at Bonney now… bring your divot tool.
Over this summer the course has switched from manual, hand-watering to a new automated irrigation system. The change is done and the new sprinklers are working, really well. The course is as green as ever but it is very, very different. The greens are no longer the fast and hard greens I’ve grown to love (and hate in a good way on some days). They’re country club soft. Shots which once would bounce over the green when hitting the front half are now backing up. On the 3rd hole, a green which is very hard to stick, I hit a wedge to the middle of the green and spun it back off and down the hill. On #10 I did the same thing, hitting the middle of the green then spinning entirely off the surface.
Some shots this softness has helped though. I hit an 8-iron to the par-5 first, a back pin. My shot flew to the back pin, hitting about a foot short of the flag. Normally that shot would bounce over the green and leave an impossible downhill chip. Instead, I had a 15″ eagle putt.
The speed of the greens is considerably slower right now. This could of course be a factor of the blade length of the mowers, or it could be that they’re just slower because they’re more moist. Those of us who are used to “Bonney” speed and the fine and tough breaks those fast greens produces are now befuddled by putts which come up short and don’t break.
I’m not saying the change is good or bad. It’s just, “different.” The strategy has changed. Rather than hitting shots with the goal of hitting the front or even in front of the green, one must think pin high and go even longer than that. I’m finding that any club less than an 8-iron requires getting the to-the-pin yardage and aiming 10-15 feet past it.
Welcome to the new Bonneville.