Category: Northern California Grand Golf Adventure

October 22, 2010

Northern California Grand Golf Adventure, Part 4: Lake Tahoe and the Rubicon Trail

Posted at 11:00 AM by Jessica Marksbury

It's hard to believe that we have already come to Day Four of our Northern California Grand Golf Adventure. The week has absolutely flown by  -  we've played three beautiful golf courses, and now, for our final day, a special treat was in store for us in Lake Tahoe: a ride on the Rubicon Trail.

We departed the Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa this morning and took an enthralling drive along the coast of South Lake Tahoe. It was a picture-perfect day, and we drove for over an hour to reach the head of the Rubicon Trail on the other side of the lake. Our driver, Greg, was waiting for us, armed with our vehicle-on-loan for the ride, a sporty Jeep Wrangler. Although the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokees we have been driving around all week are capable of tackling the Rubicon Trail terrain, Greg told us that Wranglers are more prevalent on the Trail, so Clark, Charlotte and I piled in. Even though Greg told us that Jeep has been using the Rubicon Trail as a testing site for all of their trail-rated vehicles for over 50 years, I'll admit, I still felt some mild trepidation. "Not to worry," Greg informed us, "I've never rolled one of these!" Good to know!

The beginning of the trail was on the benign side  -  a few pebbles here and there, but the mostly compacted dirt made the ride relatively smooth. Just as I started to relax, the thrills quickly escalated in the form of flooded areas and extremely big rocks, which Greg drove over with magical ease. I can't believe the size of some of the obstacles we drove over. The Jeep's performance was awesome  -  at times, our Wrangler climbed several feet into the air to get over a boulder (a definite white-knuckle experience!), only to come softly back to earth again under Greg's watchful eye (and foot). Greg told us that the Rubicon Trail is open to all off-road enthusiasts, but after our ride, I'm pretty sure that the driving is probably best left to a professional! Thanks to Greg, Clark, Charlotte and I arrived back in one piece and with some great pictures.

After our Rubicon Trail experience, it was time to head back to the Montbleu for lunch and some leisure time. Clark, Charlotte, Joe and I said our goodbyes and reflected on how much we've accomplished over the past few days. Clark is determined to continue practicing his golf game, and Joe and I are looking forward to receiving updates on his progress in the weeks to come. We've truly had a Grand Golf Adventure, and we thank you for following us throughout our journey. Hope there will be many more to come!

October 21, 2010

Northern California Grand Golf Adventure, Part 3: Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach

Posted at 10:25 AM by Jessica Marksbury

We had an extremely full itinerary on Day Three of our Northern California Grand Golf Adventure, so we gathered together before the sun came up to get an early start on our two-hour drive south to our final golf destination, Poppy Hills.

Travelin’ Joe and I were really excited to introduce Clark to Pebble Beach. As we neared the Monterey Peninsula, Joe explained that we were entering into the vicinity of some of the most hallowed ground in the history of the game, and we couldn’t leave Pebble Beach without taking a mini-tour of the area. Since we had an 8:30 a.m. starting time, we decided to take the tour after the round.

It was misty and chilly when we teed off, but the sun began to peek through the clouds by the time we finished nine holes. Even though the course was covered in early morning dew, the fairways and greens were rolling well.

Poppy Hills has several holes that offer great risk-reward opportunities for better players, but it’s also playable for beginners like Clark, as evidenced by his continued success. He came close to getting on a couple of greens in regulation, and he demonstrated some sound course-management skills.

Clark’s progress over the past few days has been truly remarkable – not only has he learned the basics of the golf swing, but, thanks in large part to Joe, he’s also been indoctrinated with a solid sense of the game’s history. He told us that he feels he can appreciate golf in a way he never has before.

After our round at Poppy Hills, Joe led us along 17-Mile Drive to visit Pebble Beach itself, the site of this year’s U.S. Open.

There aren’t too many places on the planet that can elicit genuine awe and reverence quite like Pebble Beach. We took our time strolling around the grounds and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Tap Room – the perfect place to soak up more golf history.

It was hard to leave, but after lunch it was time to get back on the road for a six-hour drive north to Lake Tahoe. We arrived late in the evening and settled in at the Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa – our final stop on this Grand Golf Adventure.

Make sure to check back in with us tomorrow to see how we fare in our grand finale – a wild ride on the Rubicon Trail. Wish us luck!


October 20, 2010

Northern California Grand Golf Adventure, Part 2: Pasatiempo

Posted at 1:15 PM by Jessica Marksbury

Day Two of our Northern California Grand Golf Adventure began with some soupy fog, which reminded us all of how lucky we were to experience such a picturesque day at Half Moon Bay’s Ocean course yesterday.

Luckily, we were headed an hour south to play Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz – one of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play.

The 45-mile stretch between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz is a pretty nice drive – especially when you’re cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in an all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee against a magnificent backdrop of crashing waves and rolling hills – it’s certainly not a morning commute to complain about! By the time we arrived in downtown Santa Cruz, the fog had lifted and the sun was shining, providing yet another day of perfect golf weather in Northern California.

After fueling up with some excellent breakfast burritos, we were ready to take on Alister MacKenzie’s most accessible masterpiece, Pasatiempo. The course was recently aerated, so the fairways were thick and soft, making Pasatiempo an even tougher test than I had originally anticipated. I struggled to reach several par-4s from the white tees, but the greens were rolling nicely and the bunkers were in perfect shape.

Travelin’ Joe Passov pointed out some of the course’s most famous holes and bits of architecture, and we all made sure to gather together for a picture in front of Alister MacKenzie’s house on the sixth hole.

Now, for an update on Clark’s progress: I think it’s safe to say that he has officially caught the golf bug. He was so excited to get back on the course today, and I think he’s taken some important steps forward. His putting stroke is much-improved, and he hit several solid shots from the fairway. Clark’s ultimate moment of glory, however, was on 18, a visually intimidating par 3 that requires an 80-yard carry over a deep canyon. Clark decided to give the shot a try and made his best swing of the day. His ball soared over the canyon and landed just short of the green. The look on his face was priceless – sheer joy. For a golfer, what’s better than the feel of a truly pure shot? That’s what this game is all about, and I’m so happy that Joe and I were there to celebrate the moment with Clark.

We’ll be at it again tomorrow, so make sure to check back in with us as we head even farther south to experience one of Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s gems, Poppy Hills!

October 19, 2010

Northern California Grand Golf Adventure, Part 1: Half Moon Bay

Posted at 11:14 AM by Jessica Marksbury

Day One of our Northern California Grand Golf Adventure began with brilliant sunshine –- what a welcome difference from the June gloom we experienced earlier this year! Travelin' Joe Passov and I were up early to join our sweepstakes winners Clark and Charlotte Parscal for a pre-golf breakfast with David Feherty at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay's Navio restaurant. We sat down at a cozy corner table overlooking the crashing surf and settled in for a meal with golf's funniest man. If you're a fan of Feherty's monthly column in GOLF Magazine, you already know that he's supremely witty and intelligent, but it's his candid nature and willingness to share his experiences and opinions that make him so fun to be around. Feherty regaled us with stories and anecdotes about everyone from Arnold Palmer to Condoleezza Rice. I don't think I've ever laughed so much before 10:00 a.m. It was a perfect way to start the day!

P1-jessica-joe-feherty After breakfast, we headed out to the first tee of Half Moon Bay's Ocean course where Feherty offered critiques of each of our golf swings (a terrifying moment!). Thankfully, Joe and I started off with drives down the middle so we came away relatively unscathed. As it turns out, our sweepstakes winner Clark is fairly new to golf, so Joe and I made it our mission to help him master some of the game's fundamentals, and Feherty pitched in with some instruction as we teed off. Charlotte decided that she would prefer to watch the day's action from the cart, so she documented the events with her camera.

The Ocean course offers a good test, with fast-rolling fairways and greens that only get harder as the afternoon wind picks up. Despite Clark's lack of experience on the golf course, he remained enthusiastic and positive throughout the day, and I'm proud to say that he made some real progress by the round's end. Joe and I both agreed that it was truly refreshing to play with someone who was so genuinely eager to learn about the game.

It was a beautiful day from start to finish, and everyone's excited to head a bit farther south for more golf in the morning. Make sure to check in again tomorrow to see how our group fares at our next venue, one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play: Pasatiempo!

Photo courtesy of

October 14, 2010

Heading back west for the Northern California Grand Golf Adventure

Posted at 10:46 PM by Jessica Marksbury

Earlier this year, Travelin’ Joe Passov and I visited Northern California and Northwestern Nevada to explore some of the region’s finest places to play. Now, in two short days, we’ll be heading back west to commence our Northern California Grand Golf Adventure with two lucky sweepstakes winners. I can’t wait to go back.

The gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and Montbleu hotel in Lake Tahoe will be providing our accommodations, and we’ll be chauffeured from place to place in an all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In addition to the three fabulous golf courses on our itinerary, we’ll have breakfast with CBS commentator and GOLF Magazine Sidespin columnist David Feherty (hope he picks up the tab!), and attempt to survive a wild ride on the Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe.

Joe and I will be posting daily blogs and videos right here on to document our journey, so make sure to check in throughout next week.

If you need a quick refresher on the great golf in the Northern California area, check out the highlights from our first trip:

Travel Feature: Northern California from Golf on Vimeo.

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