California Notebook: News from Across the Green

By Tom LaMarre, Contributor

SYLMAR, CA -- The golf course boom continues in Ventura County, where Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley, Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark and Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo have opened in recent years.

Rustic Canyon Golf Club, which opened April 26, is the latest.

"It's been a great experience," said Geoff Shackelford, a golf historian from Santa Monica who has written five books on golf course architecture and was asked to join the design team by architects Gil Hanse and Tom Doak. "Being involved on this level has given me a new appreciation for the architects that I really respect."

"I also realize how important it is to make the best use of a piece of property as possible. I gained an appreciation for the architects that seem to realize that, but I also realize how some designers don't take full advantage of the land they have. I feel like all of us involved with this project appreciate what a great piece of property we have had to work with."

Rustic Canyon is located in Happy Camp Canyon near Highway 118 and Moorpark College. The designers took advantage of the area's natural beauty to create a 6,906-yard, par-72 course that is a bit different for California. Utilizing features favored by master designers Alister MacKenzie, Donald Ross and George Thomas, they created a links-style course that favors bump-and-run style golf.

Rustic Canyon was created on a large scale, with wide fairways, open approaches to the greens and large, and heavily contoured putting surfaces that will make scoring difficult.

"Too many of the courses built these days force the player to hit a particular type of shot," Shackelford said. "Our goal with Rustic Canyon was to give players a chance to decide how they want to attack a hole."

"We have a lot of greens that allow a player to run a ball into the green rather than simply hitting a high wedge shot."

The boom in Ventura County doesn't end with Rustic Canyon.

Country Club Estates in Moorpark, with two 18-hole championship courses, is scheduled to open this summer behind the gates of a community of custom homes.

And construction on a second 18-hole course at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard, this one designed by 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle, is well under way and expected to open sometime next year. . .


James Swift knows a good piece of golf property when he sees one, having been director of tournament operations at famed Oakmont Golf Club in Pennsylvania, which has hosted seven U.S. Opens and three PGA Championships.

Swift also knows a good deal and that's why he and his wife, Calay, head the professional staff at the Santaluz Club, a private Rees Jones-designed course that opened in April in the San Dieguito River Valley near Rancho Santa Fe in Northern San Diego County.

"What we are trying to do here is pretty unique," Swift said. "It is a private club with its own community. You have to buy a home in the community in order to join the club. So far, we have 13 homeowners (with 850 homesites planned for the Santaluz community) and five of them have bought memberships."

"Anyone who has seen Rees Jones courses know the biggest identifier is the bunker work, whith we think helps make the Santaluz course so spectacular. That being said, it's a very playable course for a broad spectrum of players from beginner to expert, for men and women, juniors and seniors. We have at least five tee boxes on every hole."

The Swifts form one of the few husband-wife teaching teams in the PGA of America.

Calay Swift, who played on the Futures Tour, was head assistant pro at Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley, PA, and has more than eight years of experience as a teaching pro.

"This is a very unique opportunity for us," James Swift said. "As far as we know, there are only a handful of husband-wife PGA teaching pros. Allowing us to work at the same club is a great experience."

"In Pennsylvania, she had about a 45-minute drive to work and I was about 20 minutes away. During the summer, we would see each other to say goodnight and that was about it. The best thing is, I think our abilities complement each other."

"And we love the club, the community and the San Diego area."

As they say: location, location, location. . .


Charlie Wi never won in his native Korea until a year ago. Now he can't lose there.

Wi, who lives in North Hills, made it three consecutive victories in Korea with birdies on two of the last three holes to post a two-stroke victory and repeat as champion in the $400,000 SK Telecom Open at Lakeside Country Club in Seoul.

"This is unbelievable," said Wi, a graduate of Westlake High and the University of California. "It's a great day. I stayed very focused under pressure and my swing held up so well."

Wi, the 1990 California Amateur champion and the 1995 Southern California Amateur champion, shot 67-69-67-69 -272, 16 under par, and collected $68,078.

Kevin Na, 18, who passed up his senior year at Diamond Bar High to turn pro, totaled 69-65-73-67 -274 and tied for second with Kim Felton of Australia, who finished at 68-68-71-67 -274.

Felton took a one-stroke lead over Wi when he sank a 35-foot putt on the 16th hole, but he hooked his tee shot into the water on No. 17 and missed a 15-foot putt for par.

Wi, who led for most of the weekend, regained the lead when he sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th and finished off the victory in style when he holed a 20-footer on the final hole.

It was Wi's fifth victory on the Davidoff/Asian PGA Tour, including three last year...


Kevin Stadler finished in a tie for second, leading three players from USC in the top five, and the Trojans claimed their 17th conference championship in golf, and second in a row, by winning the Pacific 10 Conference Championship at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, OR.

Jim Seki of Stanford won the individual title at 66-72-72-74 -282, four under par.

Stadler, son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, who also played for USC, shot 69-71-73-72 -285 and tied for second with Philip Rowe of Stanford, who finished at 72-71-69-73 -285.

Ben Hayes of USC totaled 72-73-72-69 -286 and tied for fourth with teammate Scott Oxandaboure, who wound up at 71-73-72-70 -286.

USC finished at 356-360-369-356 -1441, one over par and 15 strokes ahead of Stanford, which totaled 354-366-363-373 -1456.


Brian Marshall was hired to coach basketball at Ventura College, but the results were mediocre at best, as he posted a 41-51 record from 1972-75.

It turns out, he was meant to coach golf, which he has done for the Pirates the last 26 years.

"I never imagined when I took over in 1976 that I would be here as long as I have been," said Marshall, who is retiring after this season. "It's been a great experience and I've enjoyed every minute of it. From the first team, to this last group, I've been very fortunate to have kids who played hard and were good people as well."

Marshall guided Ventura to 10 Western State Conference championships during his tenure, including seven in the 1980s.

Jim Johnson, who is enjoying success on the Asian PGA Tour this year, and Mark Singer, who has played the mini-tours and qualified for the U.S. Open, won individual state titles for the Pirates under Marshall. . .


Tim Parun was just trying to save face when he sank a five-foot putt for triple bogey, seven on the last hole of the Southern California PGA Player' Championship at Marriott's Shadow Ridge Resort in Palm Desert.

Instead, he won the tournament.

"When I was on the 18th tee at eight-under par, I thought I probably had the lead," said Parun, teaching pro at Cottonwood at Rancho San Diego Golf Club in El Cajon. "But by the time I got to the last putt, I figured I had blown it."

"I hadn't tried to add things up and figure out where I stood. I just wanted to make a good stroke to save a seven. I didn't want to make eight."

Parun finished at 67-70 -137, five-under par and one stroke better than three other PGA pros, and collected $2,100 for his first tournament victory in a major section event since the 2000 SCPGA San Diego Chapter Stroke Play Championship.

Scott Miller of Sunset Hills Country Club in Thousand Oaks shot 71-67 -138 and tied for second with Justin Hicks of Stadium Golf Center in San Diego, who totaled 69-69 -138, and Erik Wolf of Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma, who finished at 69-69 -138. . .


Target Stores has taken over from Williams as title sponsor of the World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The 2002 Target World Challenge, presented by Williams, will be played Dec. 3-8, 2002 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

"Target has been a great supporter of both the Tiger Woods Foundation and our golf tournament over the past three years," Woods said. "We are tremendously pleased that Target has taken on the title sponsorship role through this new agreement, and are looking forward to many successful events." Woods shot eight-under par 64 in the final round at Sherwood last year to win by three strokes over Vijay Singh. Woods donated his $1 million first prize to his charity foundation.

Davis Love III won the Williams World Challenge at Sherwood in 2000 by overtaking Woods and Sergio Garcia with a 64 in the final round, and Tom Lehman won the inaugural tournament in 1999 at Redhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ.

Target's commitment as title sponsor of the tournament runs through 2006. Williams will remain with the tournament as presenting sponsor. . .


Chrsyler Corp. continued the longest run as sponsor of a PGA Tour event when it reached an agreement to be the title sponsor of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic through 2006.

Chrysler has been associated with the Bob Hope since 1965 and has been the title sponsor since 1986.

The Bob Hope has been a major event on what is now the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing for more than 40 years, beginning in 1960 when Arnold Palmer won the first of his five titles in the event at Thunderbird Country Club in Palm Springs.

Palmer has played the Hope every year except 1997, when he was recovering from prostate surgery, but he said after shooting 88 in his final round this year, that it might be his last.

Phil Mickelson, from San Diego, won the 43rd Bob Hope in January with a sudden-death playoff victory over David Berganio Jr. of Sylmar on the Palmer Private Course at PGA West in La Quinta.

The 2003 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic will be played Jan. 27-Feb. 2, with the Palmer Private Course at PGA West serving as the host course for the third consecutive year.

Tom LaMarre, Contributor

Tom LaMarre has been a sportswriter and copy editor in California for parts of five decades, including 15 years with the Oakland Tribune and 22 with the Los Angeles Times.

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