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Fun Golf 2018 (Part One)

When the Great Recession commenced in ’07 few realized at the time how the economic seismic shocks caused would expose a clear reality that for too many years prior was simply not contemplated or even imagined.

Golf in America had too much supply — and not enough players. The building of courses during the go-go-go days of the ’90’s was simply carried out via ties to incoherent real estate speculation. When the real estate market tanked — the golf course segment was caught in the same whirlpool of collapse. The resulting fallout is still happening. Baby boomers are aging out and there’s little promise replacements — both in terms of total rounds played and total expenditures made — will be replicated.

In recent years the major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — have all sought to attract more people to the game. This is especially so in the areas of junior players, Millennials, women and minorities. Other golf options have recently emerged to catch the attention of those who never viewed golf as a recreational outlet. The explosion of Top Golf facilities throughout the USA has been an interesting development but one whose impact is uncertain. Whether a passing fad or more lasting contribution is till a work in progress.

But, other options do exist and some have clearly shown solid success in attracting players.

The San Diego area has long been a hotbed for golf — particularly when snowbirds flock to the area during cold months. Each year the PGA TOUR stages an annual event — The Farmer’s Insurance Open — played at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. Located a short distance from Torrey Pines is a golf facility that doesn’t have the fanfare but is clearly making an impact in exposing people to the game of golf.

The Loma Club is located in the Point Loma neighborhood in San Diego. The 9-hole short course occupies just under 18-acres of land and if you as much as blinked it’s easy to miss it. Incredibly, approximately 40,000 rounds were played in ’16 and the diversity of golfers runs the gamut from traditional golfers to those looking to see what the game is all about. They come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds at The Loma Club.

The history of the property is quite remarkable. The Point Loma Country Club, an 18-hole regulation course, was built in 1914 by A. G. Spaulding, and demolished in the early 1920’s after the Navy took part of the club’s golf course for the Naval Training Center (NTC). The club sold its property to raise funds for a new location in Chula Vista where it became the San Diego Country Club. The existing layout at

The Loma Club was redesigned in 2005 and consists of nine par-3 holes.

The present configuration is the handiwork of architect Cory Bickler and has holes ranging in distance from 70 to 204 yards. The layout is anything but elementary as there’s sufficient elevation change to keep players on their toes throughout the round. The facility averages roughly 1 hole-in-one per month — with the 5th the most frequent and the long 7th tallying the fewest.

Don’t be fooled and think that those playing take the golf less seriously. They play for keeps. The course record by a professional is 21 (-6) by Tim Parun and the best amateur mark is 22 (-5). Each year the club hosts the Annual Scrub’s Tournament — the unofficial club championship — during the 3rd weekend in October. The 2017 winner was Michael Correia with an 18-hole score of 57 (+3). There are also a range of other events with various formats held throughout the year. But, the Scrub, is the only invitational event.

The buzz at The Loma Club is both social with various ages intersecting with one another in tandem with a mood that’s anything but stuffy. Rounds don’t take much time and the property does provide some wonderful views of the San Diego skyline. There’s enough separation from daily life so players can enjoy the stroll of the property and have a human intersection with fellow players instead of whipping around in power carts which has become the norm for many traditional golfers when playing regulation courses.

The cost to play is also smartly executed. Weekday is $15 – with a dollar more for weekends and holidays. There are various discounts for various age groups and those affiliated with the military. Replays are also quite inviting with just a $6 fee. If you don’t have clubs – no issue. You can rent them when there.

The Loma Club is also in fine shape so players are provided with turf that adds to the experience. Best of all, the time to play the game is fast tracked given the short yardage of the holes. So much of today’s world is measured in speed and traditional golf is seen by younger people as being a game that fails to fit into their lifestyle. The sorting out of how golf will fare in the 21st century is a work in progress but The Loma Club is a clear sign the essence of the game can still have meaningful impact. www.thelomaclub.com. For more info on the Point Loma area go to: www.sandiego.org/pointloma.

WHERE TO EAT —

The Loma Club is within easy walking distance of Liberty Public Market. There’s a range of top tier food options available — far beyond the usual low brow ensemble found in a any formulaic food court. The former Navy training center has been updated to provide a most welcomed location. You’ll also find at varying times music events, educational events and a range of artisans showcasing their considerable skills in the 22,000 square foot building with an additional 3,000 square feet of outside area.

Just keep in mind, the popularity is certainly present — especially so on weekends and holidays when the heavy influx of vehicles can mean a tough time finding a nearby parking spot. Don’t be deterred — the benefits in sampling what’s available will be more than worth it. www.libertypublicmarket.com.

WHERE TO STAY —

For those who are visiting the San Diego area it helps to have lodging options in the immediate Loma Point area. One of the premier is located on Shelter Island — just minutes away from everything of note. The Kona Kai Resort & Spa provides a quality intersection where land and water intersect. You’re close enough to get to the downtown area but far enough away to rejuvenate the mind and body. A forthcoming expansion is set to open this Spring with additional top tier rooms available. A great getaway for couples and families. Be sure to inquire beforehand about any fees tied to parking and resort usage. www.resortkonakai.com.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS —

For those seeking a connection to marine life there’s no finer place to visit then SeaWorld San Diego. The animal theme park, oceanarium, outside aquarium and marine mammal park is just a short drive from Loma Point and is inside the city’s Mission Bay Park. Fun times for all ages. Founded in 1964 — the facility gets several million visitors each year. www.seaworld.com/Orlando.

The Cabrillo National Monument which highlights the explorer Joan Rodriguez Cabrillo who was the first European to find San Diego Bay in 1542. The monument, established in 1913, commemorates that discovery. Fantastic views of the immediate area and clearly worth visiting for young and old alike. https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm.

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Kona Kai Resort & Spa Photo – Courtesy of Facility

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