Turning the range into a center for family fun
BY: TONY L. STARKS
Grand Del Mar (California) Golf Club is home to one of Southern California’s best practice ranges. Featured among the Golf Range Association of America’s Top 50 Private Ranges for three consecutive years, the undulating range was designed by Tom Fazio. It features crisp bunkering along with nine distinct target greens and a pristine short game area.
PGA Tour standouts Charlie Hoffman and Xander Schauffele are regulars on the range and course at Grand Del Mar. However, on Tuesday afternoons this past summer the range belonged to junior golfers and their families.
Shawn Cox, the club’s PGA Director of Golf, transformed the range into a nine-hole short course on those particular days. He meticulously routed the layout, utilizing each unique aspect of the range – including the elevated teeing area at the south end of the range – to create a fun, playable and yet challenging course.
“The kids came out with their parents and we created a family atmosphere,” says Cox, who was on the short course almost every Tuesday afternoon with his daughter this past summer. “Furthermore, this is how friendships are made. We get as many of our juniors as we can out here and give them the space and opportunity to make connections.”
In addition to creating bonds between families and friends, Cox encouraged the PGA Professionals on his staff to also participate in the Tuesday afternoon outings.
“Many of our talented young golfers who are competing in tournaments came out to play. So I wanted our PGA Professionals alongside them, not only helping to prepare them for competition but also encouraging good on-course habits as well as etiquette,” says Cox. “In addition, it gives them the chance to build mentoring relationships.”
To add to the fun, Cox brought large speakers onto the range and pumped music as golfers made their way around. His goal was to deliver a family friendly Topgolf-like experience.
“There’s no age restrictions at Topgolf, but it’s more catered towards an adult crowd. Many parents don’t elect to bring their young kids out with them,” according to Cox. “By having music, focusing on fun and friendships, we’re creating a similar experience on our own range while also providing something memorable and valuable to our membership and junior golfers.”