I just got back from a great trip to Monterey and Carmel California, courtesy of my new best friends at Mazda. They and their PR experts are realizing the great reach from the “underground” world we bloggers really have. Mazda invited a handful of “lifestyle” bloggers for the weekend to experience their automobiles, hospitality and their awesome Mazda Laguna Seca race track first hand. That handful included golf bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers and fashion bloggers. I’m going to do a feature post on each of these new blogger friends soon.
Mazda IS Zoom Zoom
Mazda is one hip company. Mazda really is “zoom zoom” in not only their automobiles, but in the way they run their company and with the types of people that work for them. You’d have to be “zoom zoom” to think of a blogger retreat like we had, knowing the bloggers would be writing about the great experiences they had.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Overview
I’ve reviewed dozens of golf courses, hundreds of golf accessories and clubs, training aids and web sites. But I have yet to review a vehicle until now. My review of the MX-5 (Miata) will be from a golfer’s perspective.
The MX-5 is a two seat, convertible sports car. The MX-5 is very cool looking and sporty on the outside. On the inside is an amazingly powerful 2.0 liter, 16 valve, 166 horsepower, four cylinder motor. 166 horses may not sound like a lot, but consider that the car is very small and light. Any more horses than that and the engine may fly out of the chassis, leaving the shell behind!
Mazda MX-5 Cool Features
Aside from the sporty speed and handling of the MX-5, the obvious coolest feature is the convertible hard top. With the click of a button (see videos below), the top retracts or goes back up in less than 15 seconds!
The Grand Touring model MX-5 I tested had all the bells and whistles: 7 speaker Bose sound system with steering wheel controls, leather heated seats, power everything, air dam, cruise control, window de-misters (didn’t even know those existed), xenon headlights, sport suspension and more.
The advanced keyless entry was very “zoom zoom.” You have this credit card sized plastic remote on your key chain and you don’t actually use a “key” in the ignition to start the car. With the key you can unlock, pop the trunk, roll the windows down etc.
My MX-5 also had the very hip six speed automatic transmission. If I wanted to get sporty, I switched the tranny to manual mode and controlled when the car shifted.
On The Road
The MX-5 is a BLAST to drive! This car is SO fast. In fact it’s way faster than my BMW. Correction… It’s faster than my X-wife’s BMW. 🙂 I was blowing cars away on the curvy mountain roads of Carmel California. I left a Jaguar in the dust.
The MX-5 is amazing on corners as well, with the sport suspension and the near 50/50 weight ratio.
Mazda’s designers did a terrific job handling the wind with the top down. While flying down the winding mountain roads, my dad called me to give me updates of my college football team (Utah) as it was blowing out #11 UCLA. Even though I was flying down these roads at crazy speeds with the top down, the wind noise was quiet enough in the cockpit for me to hear my pop’s updates on the cell phone with no problems. Final score: Utah 44 – UCLA 6.
You can’t go to Monterey and be a golfer without driving down the shoreline and checking out Spyglass and Pebble Beach. Having taken the MX-5 down the shoreline and the famous “17 Mile Drive” I can attest that there’s no better car for cruising California’s shore lines than an MX-5. I never could figure out how long the 17 Mile Drive was though…
When it came time to golf I had a blast driving to the course obviously. But the trunk of the MX-5 isn’t exactly what I’d call “roomy.” In order for me to fit my clubs in the trunk, I had to take all the clubs out of the bag first. I just settled on letting my clubs ride shotgun to the course.
You can get a maxed out MX-5 like the one I drove for about $25K. Maxed out! Lesser models start around $21K. What a bargain.
The MX-5 is “zoom zoom” to the max. Lock yourself into the driver’s seat, put away anything that will blow out of the cockpit and tighten down your hat. The Mazda MX-5 is FAST, fun, fashionable, flirtatious and frisky (just like I like my women).
Nice little golf blog milestone this week. The Hooked On Golf Blog YouTube channel just topped the 4,000,000 view mark. Yes I realize that is probably as many views as a Britney Spears crotch shot or Lady Gaga gets in one day, but hey man this is a golf blog.
Speaking of Lady Gaga, the world gaga is a family/Greek slang word for poo. So every time I hear the the phrase “Lady Gaga” I interpret “Lady Poo.” Not terribly pleasant.
Anyway, I’ll just pat myself on the back for a second and suggest that you check out one of my over 300 golf videos on the HOG/TGS YouTube channel. I’m no Francis Ford Coppola, but here are some of my favorites:
Today is the last day of 2007. I’m going through the year’s posts and highlighting by month, some of the best subjects of the year.
January 2007 saw me at my first PGA Merchandise Show and I got a ton of hits, comments and thousands of video views of my interviews. I even had people from the pga.com staff watching me kick their butts delivering info from the show. In their words, “you’re doing in minutes what would take us days to do.”
When TaylorMade introduced the new Burner and Superquad drivers, Hooked On Golf Blog had the #1 and #2 spots on Google’s search results for those keywords, even over Taylormade’s own web site!
The Bernardus Lodge is a 57 room paradise, nestled in the hills and vineyards of the Carmel valley. My room was room #57. The lodge’s rooms are very large and extremely comfortable. My room had a huge bathroom with two sinks, two person tub, huge shower, fireplace, couch, king sized bed and its own private porch overlooking the beautiful landscape.
Above: Bernardus lodge rooms and bocce field.
I would have been content to stay in the room for three days but I was happy to enjoy the rest of the property. I took a nice walk by the vineyards and gardens. I had a great time playing bocce ball (I’d call it lawn bowling, pictured above). I didn’t have time to hit the training room, the big pool or the tennis courts but they’re definitely worth a mention.
One of the best parts of the Bernardus is the spa. I spent a whole afternoon there, being pampered in ways I didn’t even know existed before I got there. The spa offers skin treatments, massages, pedicures, manicures, waxing and more.
You get to the spa about 30 minutes before your treatment, and put on a luxurious robe and slippers in the locker room. For before, after, and between treatments, there’s a waiting room where you hang out, drink water and nibble on fresh fruit.
The spa has its own “warming pool” outside (pictured below), where you can take a refreshing dip. Many of my blogger friends were hanging out by the warming pool, drinking Bernardus wine and eating fruit. I saw someone getting a pedicure outside there too.
My first spa treatment was a full body Swedish massage. The masseuse was amazing and pinpointed knots in my neck and shoulders within seconds. Those knots are a result of hours of blogging, slouched over my laptop. With some special attention, my knots in my neck were gone and the rest of my body was very relaxed and loose.
After my first treatment I had a few minutes to replenish some water before I was “whisked” to my second treatment: Exfoliation. Exfoliation is a process where the dead skin cells are rubbed off your body.
First warm butter was poured on each section of my body that the technician was working on. Then a lavender oil and lavender bud mix was used to brush the dead skin away. The lavender buds were from the Bernardus garden.
After rinsing off all the butter, oil and buds, another oil is applied to the body to replenish the oils lost in the process.
Though I loved the massage, the exfoliation process was about as “feel good” as I could get.
After my spa treatments I spent some time in the warming pool and the steam room. I was very spent by the end of the afternoon but I felt great.
Wine & Winery
In the evening, Bernardus wine makers set up a wine tasting table next to the bocce field. I tested out various versions of the wonderful wines from the Bernardus winery.
I was also lucky enough to spend some time up in the Carmel mountains at the Bernardus winery. There I checked out the barrels, the manufacturing and the fields where they’re growing millions of grapes.
Don’t tell them, but when nobody was watching I managed to sneak into their lab too. It looked like the scientist’s lab from Frankenstein–test tubes, scientific devices, notes, calculators and a periodic table of the elements… I even saw a cool map of all the vineyards (below) and what types of wines are growing in them.
Above: Bernardus vineyard map
The culinary staff at the Bernardus is amazing. Over the three days I was there, several of the food items I ate were hands down the best I’d ever had. I’m not a big seafood guy, but they had some kind of crab salad that I gobbled up. I had the best pizza ever: goat cheese, kalamata olives and artichoke hearts (fresh picked from the Bernardus garden). I had the best chicken I’ve ever eaten which was marinated in herbs and lemon which were picked on site. Man, even the bacon I had with breakfast was by far the best damn bacon I’d ever had. Speaking of breakfast, I had fresh squeezed cranberry juice too. Yes the berries were grown on site. Oh, how can I not mention the fillet mignon which was so tender I thought I could chew it with my tongue and not my teeth?
breakfast on the porch
The desserts… Oh boy. All of the desserts were hand made, even down to the chocolate truffles. I hate nuts and almonds. But I had an almond truffle that turned me into a nut…..lover. One taste bud overload was the fresh strawberries from the garden, dipped in chocolate.
(I’m going to take a break from writing this post now, since I’ve made myself hungry….. OK break over)
How can this relate to golf?
About a 10-15 minute drive from the Bernardus lodge are three golf courses ranked in the top 50 according to Golf Magazine. You may have heard of Pebble Beach? Pebble is #4 on the list, right behind Augusta National. Next door you can find Cypress point and Spyglass Hill, #2 and #48 respectively.
If you are heading to the Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel area for some golf or just plain vacation, consider staying at the Bernardus Lodge. Your mind, your body, your taste buds and your tum-tum will be inundated with wonderful sensations.