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A message from Chardonnay's GM
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TOPIC: A message from Chardonnay's GM

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leef2020
A message from Chardonnay's GM
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    March 26, 2016


Favorite Golfer:
    Jack & Jordan
Favorite Golf Course:
    Baltusrol


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Tuesday March 13, 2018 7:08 PM
Received the following e-mail from the GM at Chardonnay GC in Napa this morning. Anyone else?

I golfed there last year, and had no issues with POP nor overall condition of the course. Had a lovely afternoon. Was in the area again last month and due to a problem with multiple attempts to book an online tee time at Chardonnay via Teeoff.com, opted to golf next door at Eagle Vines instead. Had no issues with the quality of tee boxes at Eagle Vines last month, but it appears there's been some major complaints on the condition of tee boxes and 'pace of play' at Chardonnay. POP was indeed over 5 hours on a Saturday afternoon next door at Eagle Vines when I played in February. The e-mail, I guess, is how the GM at Chardonnay has chosen to communicate his position on the matters to the golfing world.


----------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thank you for being a part of our online E-Club program. We very much appreciate your past, present and future patronage of the Chardonnay Golf Club & Vineyards!

Over that past month we have received a handful of complaints about the golf course conditions, more specifically the tee boxes on the par threes, and issues about the pace of play here at the golf club. Our goal is to endeavor to meet or exceed our customers expectations! As we fell short of meeting these customers expectations, we felt it appropriate to respond more broadly to these issues in a format that addresses these two issues in an informative manner.

First, as to the condition of the tee boxes, we have been blessed these past two and a half months with unseasonably "good" weather and a significant reduction in our usual winter seasonal rainfall. As a result, we have experienced a very high volume of play, almost doubling what we would normally receive this time of the year. The downside to this increase in rounds of golf being played is that we have had almost twice as many golfers taking divots on the par three tees than normal. Secondly, our tee boxes have a "tif-dwarf" bermuda grass on them. During the cooler winter months, the bermuda grass goes dormant and doesn't grow. As a result, the bermuda grass won't fill in the divots as they normally would once the ground temperatures warm up. Although we do periodically top dress the tees with a sand and seed (rye grass) mixture, this time of the year when we exerience cooler evening temperatures and even days of frost, the grass seed will not germinate and grow to fill in the divots. As we move into Spring, you can be assured that as the temperatures warm the bermuda grass will "spring" to life and fill in all of the divots.

Secondly, our golf course has a distinctive design with all of the vineyards, creek crossings and other hazards that lend to the uniqueness of the layout, but also increases the challenges to the average golfer. A number of years ago we had the course "formally pace rated" to determine what would be a reasonable expectation for the amount of time it would take to play a round of golf. We have that information posted on our website at: CGC Pace Rating

The results of that study reflected that on a busy day, when we hosted 150 or more rounds of golf, that an average foursome of golfers that teed off in the middle of the pack (with 72 golfers playing in front of them) could anticipate that it take them four and a half hours to complete their round. The first groups to tee off in the morning would most likely finish their rounds in three and a half to four hours. Those golfers teeing off later in the day could expect that it would take more than four and a half hours to complete their round of golf. Those golfers teeing off at the end of the pack, that might have 140 or more golfers playing front of them could expect that their round might take five and a half hours to complete. Given our "pace rating" these times would be normal and to be expected depending on when you teed off on these busy days (typcially on weekends).

It's not unlike when I decide to take a trip to San Francisco from Napa. The total distance to downtown is only about 48 miles. If I leave at 5:00am on a Monday morning, I can probably make the trip in less than an hour. However, if I wait until 7:00am to leave and all the commuter traffic is already on the highway in front of me, it will probably take me one and a half to two hours, or more, to make the trip. It is not much different on a golf course. The more golfers that have teed off in front of you, the longer time it will take for you to complete your round. The moral of the story is that the later in the day you decide to play, you can expect your round of golf to take longer. If you want to play Chardonnay Golf Club in four and a half hours or less, we strongly encourage you to book your tee times earlier in the day.

I hope that the above information assists in "setting and informing" you on what are reasonanable expectations when you play here!

Best regards,
Roger Billings
PGA General Manager

---------------------------------------------------------------

The typo's are his. Aside from that, I must say that I am not impressed. My take is that he's basically saying there is nothing (further?) that he and his team can/will do, except to make clear what everyone's expectations about golfing at Chardonnay should be - crappy tee boxes on par 3s when the play is heavy and slow rounds.

I would've appreciated some commentary on any/all alternatives they've considered or done to improve the situation regarding course (par 3 tee box) quality and POP. On the latter point, I do not fully agree with his analogy. I have played courses in the middle of the day, and because the 'culture' of the management, marshals, and golfers is to 'keep up the pace', rounds are indeed completed in at a timely pace. Shot limits may be posted, faster groups are always waved through. In nearby Sonoma, I have had great experiences at Bennett Valley regarding mid-day POP. Roger has essentially punted his/the courses' responsibility on POP, imho. I can indeed accept a 4.5 hour round on a weekend as 'typical', but anything more than that, and the golf course HAS to bear some responsibility for not keeping track of/managing POP better, and demonstrate it cares enough about the 'golfer experience'. Sadly, too common a sentiment from golf course management: "Your card was approved...got your money, thank you very much, sorry about the waiting. Really, there's nothing we can do about it."

Being too tough? Other takes?
REPLY
 Message #87491
grantar2
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    July 14, 2015


Favorite Golfer:
    Danny Lee
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Tuesday March 13, 2018 7:45 PM
I think he is being honest. he could artificially reduce the number of golfers playing by spacing the tee times wider, and raising rates that would reduce his wear and tear on the Par 3's. but biology and regional climate pose challenges that even a highly competent agronomist will be challenged by.

If the course has expected times on the website than it's not his fault if player booking through golf websites are unaware. There are far too many players who expect speed rounds, some courses aren't built for it, and players are their to enjoy the course in it's full. Add that the quality of play for any foursome is questionable, and they are at least working to help you make your selection, which may be not to play that course.

Obviously based on the study they feel that trying to push groups harder would reduce the enjoyment of the experience more than being delayed by a long round. At the same time moving everyone along faster would add players to the course further exacerbating the wear and tear on the par threes.

Give him credit for formally acknowledging that he has heard, and understands the complaints, provides an answer for why the Par threes are in poorer condition than most would like, realizing he is in an area that should be very wet this time of year preventing many from playing. As for pace of play he addressed that by what could be expected. Sort of like a race course, an IndyCar will run faster at the Indianapolis motor speedway that at Phoenix International speedway. The car is just as fast, both courses are approx. ovals, the length and corners make the top speed and corner speeds different.

I think he handled it very well. As far as impact, he seems to be at capacity now, and a little less may be helpful.
REPLY
 Message #87492 - This was a reply to message #87491
Nickesquire
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    August 11, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
    Jack, Freddie, Tiger
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    Maderas Olivas Sherwood


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Tuesday March 13, 2018 9:56 PM
Have never played there, so have no idea on the course layout or culture.

However, taking everything stated at face value... The G.M. attempted to explain WHY the tee boxes and POP may be seen as poor. Perhaps in such great detail that he may lose some people along the line. Particularly those that do not care as much about the WHY, they just want to hear HOW things are going to improve.

He stated their "tif-dwarf" Bermuda grass goes dormant during the cooler winter months and doesn't grow.

Unless they over seed with a different grass, sounds like the best they can do on a short-term basis is to fill in the divots and wait on warmer weather when the Bermuda will grow?



Would it have been perceived as gentler if he had added some positive language that we are implementing this or that to improve POP? Maybe.

However, his POP analysis seems accurate with what I have experienced when playing busy courses. It should flow better in the a.m. When the course is packed mid day or later, it often seems like every group is waiting, and no particular group is to blame.

Always looking for a deal, I am not a fan of paying $20 to $40 more for the same round of golf just for the privilege of playing it a couple of hours earlier. However, particularly in the shorter winter months, I often have to bite the bullet and pay higher fees just to ensure I can get in an entire round.

What the guy was basically saying is that if you want to play Weber golf and breeze around the course uninhibited, come out first thing and likely pay top $$$. If you play later, likely at a reduced fee, beware that you are probably going to play at a much slower pace because there will many more golfers out.

Sounds like you disliked the message the messenger was delivering... but that doesn't make the message any less accurate.
REPLY
The goal is long and straight! But on the many times I cannot seem to hit them straight, I at least want to hit them long!
 Message #87494 - This was a reply to message #87492
1PLUS1
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    March 27, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
    Seve; Nick Faldo
Favorite Golf Course:
    Belgrade Lakes (Maine)


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Wednesday March 14, 2018 12:50 AM
QUOTED  Being too tough? Other takes?


Quite possibly...but you're entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to mine. What I find, in reading some of the reviews posted on GK, is that many people seem to have an unrealistic level of expectation with regards to course conditioning, etc...often failing to take into account the various factors that come into play...while also taking issue with things that aren't even worth getting excited about (i.e. Practice green doesn't accurately represent on-course green conditions).

Geographical location, recent weather activity, and time of year all have an influence how the golf course presents itself yet I'm led to believe some people expect outstanding conditions twelve months of the year. And just because a nearby course would appear to rate higher on the playability scale, it doesn't necessarily mean the respective superintendents are dealing with identical environmental challenges and budgetary constraints.

Go out to Palm Springs in December/January and you'll most likely be rewarded, generally speaking, with pristine conditions. To expect the same in the Napa region at this time of year is presumptuous and unrealistic. I'd like to see more reviewers not be so overly critical in their reviews unless it's absolutely warranted. Take a moment to consider the big picture before passing judgement that someone is out to take your money with no desire to present a solid product in return.

And as far as the pace-of-play is concerned, what to expect at Chardonnay GC is spelled out on their website and was "cheerfully" explained in the response you received from the GM. As Nickesquire alluded to in his post, time of day will often have an influence on how short or long the round lasts, which can be further compromised by the number of filled tee times.

While everyone would love to be able to count on a 4-hour round, regardless of when and where they play, there are some courses that, due to their inherent difficulty, simply do not fit the bill. From what I can gather, Chardonnay GC falls into that category.

And what you encountered is not something only the recreational golfer has to deal with. I'll cite this past week's European Tour event...conducted at India's extremely challenging DLF GC...as an example. The announcers made a point to mention that the somewhat slow pace of the rounds was due to the difficult nature of the course, not because of guys who were doing their best J.B. Holmes impersonation. If a tough course can slow down the best players in the world, the same will apply to those of far lesser ability.

You may not have been satisfied with the GM's "take" regarding your displeasure at Chardonnay and the perceived lack of action to proactively address those issues, but I was impressed with the fact he took the time to sit down and compose such a lengthy, detailed response. It appears to me the management team is well aware of the factors that are at the root of your complaint yet, short of redesigning the course and removing some of its' teeth, have admitted it's just the nature of the beast.

Judging from the tone of the GM's e-mail, I got the impression he would be more than welcome to engage in a civil, constructive one-on-one conversation. If it were me, I would have been inclined to follow up with a personal phone call before taking him to task on this forum.
REPLY
 Message #87499 - This was a reply to message #87491
leef2020
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    March 26, 2016


Favorite Golfer:
    Jack & Jordan
Favorite Golf Course:
    Baltusrol


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Wednesday March 14, 2018 1:20 AM
QUOTED  You may not have been satisfied with the GM's "take" regarding your displeasure at Chardonnay and the perceived lack of action to proactively address those issues, but I was impressed with the fact he took the time to sit down and compose such a lengthy, detailed response. It appears to me the management team is well aware of the factors that are at the root of your complaint yet, short of redesigning the course and removing some of its' teeth, have admitted it's just the nature of the beast.



To be clear, I have had no complaint about Chardonnay from my own personal singular (2017) experience there, nor made one to the GM. The e-mail sent by the GM was sent as a 'blast' to all who are on their mailing list. The 'complaints' were made by unknown other people. I have presented it here for the purpose of commentary, of which some have already provided great feedback.

As for my 'take' on POP, it indeed has my experience that very often, golf course management do not take any action with regards to encouraging a good pace of play and 'throw up their hands' as to what to actually do about it. In addition to Bennett Valley, two courses I've seen actually make an effort on a regular basis in So. Cal, are Tijeras Creek and Mile Square. They aren't perfect, but there are things that courses can do. On-course marshals at Tijeras Creek, for example, are constantly circling the course in reverse to monitor 'gaps', and have reported delays ahead and also their efforts to improve the pace. In some cases, for example, they've reported that they have directed groups to 'skip a hole' to move up the pace. On the other end of the spectrum, I've never seen the marshals on duty at either of Costa Mesa's courses actually speak to anyone. So, 'active management' on POP by marshals, for example, and other efforts can indeed make a difference, from my experience.

[[Edited by leef2020 on Wednesday March 14, 2018 1:29 AM]]
REPLY
 Message #87500 - This was a reply to message #87499
Deepsea14
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM
Member Since:
    October 15, 2017


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Wednesday March 14, 2018 9:05 AM
I played at Chardonnay last year, and signed up for the email list as well and was sent the same "announcement". I would and will go back and play again as well as it's "sister" course next door Eagle vines. The courses are intertwined through the vineyards and when they separated a few years ago (I think) the signature island green hole became and Eagle Vine course hole instead of Chardonnay as it once was. The course plays as par 72 split equally with 3 par 3/4/5's on each side. The difficulty of the course elevates and pace of play possibly by the local rule hit in in the grapes and it's OB can't go get it. Maybe the new rule to allow all OB to be laterals by local rule would help. Maybe the setup itself leads to slow POP. Typically par 3's stack up and short par 5's for the big hitters going for the green with 2nd shot(s) got one more of each on both 9's compared to a typical layout. If the POP policy is clearly stated and the marshalls are trained to do their job they can help move golfers along properly. If they just ride around and exchange smiles with the patrons not so much.

Anyway my thoughts:

I think the GM is trying to accommodate two different classes of customer and is caught in the middle. The course has both monthly dues "members" and the public golfer intermingled in the tee sheet. I think both can play at all times of the day weekday and weekend. The parking lot gives "members" reserved parking near the CH, while we public play guys park next lot back. A golf course trying to be both a public and private simultaneously will be a occupational challenge at times for the GM no doubt. Perhaps this frustration was a source contention an prompted the GM's email. We don't know the details.


Condition wise I try to be more than fair to the course considering the time of year when I make my GK reviews. Par 3 tees a bit barren in the winter is expected. By golly you can use a wooden peg if the teeing area is level what is the trouble? Don't expect pristine in winter and there is a difference between $$$ and a $ course. Am I right?
REPLY
 Message #87503 - This was a reply to message #87500
1PLUS1
RE: A message from Chardonnay's GM

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    March 27, 2007


Favorite Golfer:
    Seve; Nick Faldo
Favorite Golf Course:
    Belgrade Lakes (Maine)


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Wednesday March 14, 2018 5:19 PM
QUOTED  To be clear, I have had no complaint about Chardonnay from my own personal singular (2017) experience there, nor made one to the GM. The e-mail sent by the GM was sent as a "blast" to all who are on their mailing list. The "complaints" were made by unknown other people. I have presented it here for the purpose of commentary...


Thanks for the clarification; based upon the manner in which your post was written, I was under the impression you had, at some point, expressed your opinion in the direction of the GM.

QUOTED  As for my "take" on POP, it indeed has been my experience that very often, golf course management do not take any action with regards to encouraging a good pace of play and "throw up their hands" as to what to actually do about it. "Active management" on POP by marshalls, for example, and other efforts can indeed make a difference, from my experience.


Pace of play issues continue to plague the game but not all facilities employ full-time marshalls to keep things moving while others may not maintain any visible presence on the golf course at all. And there are some who choose to monitor play only during the prime-time morning hours or busier weekend periods, with marshalls often calling it a day in the early afternoon. While that practice could be governed by budgetary restrictions, I suppose it boils down to just how vigilant these courses are in battling the slow play conundrum.

While employing a staff of on-course rangers to monitor play may be the most effective way to keep things moving, I happen to like the idea of placing clocks on various tees as a reminder of where one's group stands in relation to the "mandated" pace of play policy. I'd much rather self-monitor my pace than be constantly harrassed by an overzealous marshall but I realize there will always be a portion of the golfing public that will totally ignore the subtle, non-confrontational "please pick up the pace" reminder provided by the clock system.

And the golfing public has to accept some of the blame here as well. I'm fully aware that not everyone playing has a single-digit index and can go 18 holes without losing a ball, but it's the inconsiderate golfer, the one who is oblivious to what's going on around him, that needs to do their part to help alleviate the logjams that are making 5-hour rounds the norm rather than the exception.
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 Message #87505 - This was a reply to message #87500

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