What do the CareerBuilder, Farmers Insurance, Genesis Open and the Waste Management Golf Tournaments have in common?
They attract droves of golfers, and especially Canadian golfers.
Canadians not only are avid golfers, but also comprise many of the homeowners throughout the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs to Coachella), Phoenix/Scottsdale and San Diego. Then, of course, the weather for these “Snow Birds”, is the main reason for their presence. And how can you complain about beautiful golf courses that meander through stunning desert landscapes and sit atop ocean-side cliffs and host Major Tournaments?
The Coachella Valley is by far the most popular area for the Canadians. Affordable housing and upscale golf communities, plus the 100+ golf courses, are the main attractions.
Golf courses in the desert are experiencing far more play than last year, home rentals are reasonably priced and the desert’s reputation, particularly for golf and weather, plus the CareerBuilder Tournament, have attracted more people to desert courses than in recent years.
So let’s talk about the golf tournaments that attract not only the Canadians, but locals and coast cities’ residents to these events as well. Many Canadians volunteer for all 4 of these tournaments and the “eh,” “aboot” (about), Ays are ubiquitous at all venues.
The CareerBuilder Tournament continues to flourish and each year the field gets stronger, and the organizational aspects more consistent, which leads to higher attendance.
Part of the reason for the increased attendance are Lagardere Sports and their very progressive approach to admission. The paying visitor now has an all-access, all-inclusive ticket for the concert and hospitality areas and to all 3 courses. Transportation to and from the 3 courses and parking area always runs smoothly all week long. The $10 parking fee is very reasonable and Uber and Lyft are also another popular option.
Players love the La Quinta Country Club (53 years and counting as a co-host) and most of the Canadians I spoke to also enjoy the LQCC and come to watch fellow countryman, Adam Hadwin who tied for 3rd. The three local exemptions given to Charlie Reiter, Tom Whitney and Jeff Gove, had many local fans following their groups. Another smart move by Lagardere.
Ambassador Phil Mickelson always draws in fans, as does Patrick Reed and the now number 2 ranked player and eventual tournament winner, Jon Rahm. This makes for the stronger field the tournament is attracting recently, and also because of their USP (Unique Selling Propositions) – Concerts and free access to all areas of the course. One can assume that many locals who had never been to the tournament before were on the grounds of the event for music – with about 8,000 at Friday’s Huey Lewis and the News concert, and in Saturday’s case about 5,000 fans for the Goo Goo Dolls performance.
The Von’s Fan Pavilion behind the 18th green was a favorite gathering spot for the week and was packed most of the weekend. All in all, one could definitely see larger crowds at each of the 3 courses played this year.
The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
With its proximity to the desert, Orange County and LA County, many Canadians made the 2 -21/2 hour drive to San Diego from the desert. Accolades, envy, jealousy, weather and excitement were the words most used by all the Canadians I spoke to throughout the tournament. Seeing Tiger play and watching Canadian players, makes their enjoyment just that much greater. Having the US Open in 2021 at Torrey Pines is the icing on the cake.
Many of the Canadians make a long week out of the Farmer’s, especially the landlocked residents of Edmonton and Alberta. This year the weather was outstanding. Being able to play a course that is on the US Open rotation is a huge attraction, not only for Canadians, but for golfers worldwide.
There are many Canadians living in San Diego and many have businesses in Southern California. The CanDiego.org is a great connector for them.
This was the year where the parking lots were at capacity. The reason – a golfer named Tiger Woods! How great was it to finally see him back in action. The whole golf world breathed a sigh of relief when he made the cut and the crowds could not have been happier.
Both courses were in positively the best condition I have seen in years. Most of the players now find that the recently redesigned Weiskopf North Course is playing a shot more than the South Course.
New areas that were previously unavailable to the public, included an expanded Grey Goose 19th Hole which featured an all new elevated viewing deck providing panoramic views of the course, a Pétanque course and specialty drinks, including the 2018 signature cocktail called, the “Torrey Breeze.” Other public areas of interest included the William Hill Estate Wine Lounge, which offered views alongside par-3 8th green, the Michelob ULTRA Zone, where fans enjoyed happy hour specials starting at 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and a DJ as part of the Post Party was presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal.
The Genesis Open
In 2016, the PGA Tour’s long-running event (the Northern Trust Open) at Pacific Palisades’ Riviera Country Club became known as the Genesis Open.
Genesis Motors is the luxury car spinoff company of Hyundai Motor America, which took over as the title sponsor in 2017 of the tournament that debuted in Los Angeles in 1926. Northern Trust was the title sponsor at Riviera for nine years.
Tiger was back and the fans turned out in droves. Shuttles were jam packed every day and Uber drivers were smiling ear to ear.
The Promenade, including food trucks, public seating and the giant video board that was located behind the 14th green, was always busy, while The Strip, located along #1 fairway, and The Boulevard, located between #1 and #2 fairway, featuring interactive partner displays and giveaways also was a big hit.
The vineyard vines club near the 10th green and driving range, offered premium food, beverages and great views of the signature hole at Riviera, and the William Hill Estate Wine Deck on 2nd green, featuring great views and the perfect pairing, was a crowd favorite. The GREY GOOSE 19th Hole located between the 18th green and 10th tee with their featured signature cocktails kept not just Canadians happy, but everybody else over 21 that stopped in.
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. Visit www/facebook.com/PGTAA to see all the latest mental strategies and equipment reviews. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his previous book, “How to Build Business Relationships through Golf”, updated for 2011, is still in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list. His latest book, “The Right Mind for Golf”, is now in its 7th reprint is available on Amazon and at the Torrey Pines golf course.