It wasn’t quite a skins game but someone dropped $5 million recently at the St. Mark Golf Club.
“We wanted the golfers to score well and have more fun,” Brett Miller said. “So we made the course even better.”
Better is good and Miller’s time of overseeing the resurrection of this San Marcos course at the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort is paying off.
“The course was in great shape, with the right balance of challenge and playability,” said Carlsbad’s Darrell Atkin.
Atkin is right. The St. Mark is on the mark and it’s clear to see there’s been a switch at the 18-hole track.
Miller, a good golfer himself, knows how to keep score. He could decipher the trend of the declining number of golfers teeing it up.
“We understand that,” said Miller, an Olivenhain resident. “The market is not really growing; it became stagnant. So what we are trying to create is when that golfer wakes up in the morning, he thinks, ‘Where do I want to go play?’”
Miller and his company, Eat.Drink.Sleep, aren’t snoozing on jazzing up the St. Mark. That $5 million investment went toward everything from an expanded pro shop to new golf carts.
Zooming around the course, it’s easy to understand why St. Mark is bucking. Its greens will absorb 40,000 rounds this year. When Miller’s bunch took over five years ago, it was 24,000.
“There’s been a tremendous increase,” he said.
It’s because of the elbow grease applied to the old San Marcos Country Club, which had fallen well below par.
“It was in pretty bad shape,” Miller said.
If your game is off-kilter, Lee Sanudo can assist. A golf guru for more than 27 years, he was hired as the director of instruction. The expansion of the teaching program is part of Miller’s to-do list and that includes an upgraded locker room and improved golf cart pathways.
“Many people have worked extremely hard to make the St. Mark Golf Club a truly outstanding golf facility,” said Frank Iannuzzi, the club’s general manager. “We are so pleased with the response from our members and guests about the club’s renovations.’
There’s activity on-and-off the 6,400-yard, par-71 course.
On Saturdays there’s a driving clinic at the range. Then there’s the Oktoberfest Golf Tournament and Party is Sept. 29.
Still thirsty for more golf and suds? Check out the Golf and Craft Beer Festival, Oct. 27-28.
Even the pro shop has a beer bar so one bringing back a club never needs to do so with a dry throat.
“The service was great,” Atkin said.
That assessment brought a smile to Miller.
“We want it to be fun out there,” Miller said. “We want people to play their golf, and if they want, hang around afterward and enjoy some craft beers. That makes for more fun.”
Maybe the laughs will match the number of strokes a golfer requires during St. Mark round and what’s the harm in that?
We couldn’t think of any, either.
“It was a nice course,” Carlsbad’s Rod Laver said. “They have really done a lot of work out here.”
Laver, a tennis legend, was making the turn recently at St. Mark. A front 9 had gone haywire, so he stopped at The Grill and did his best Joey Chestnut imitation.
Laver polished off a big frankfurter and that got him right. He went under-par on the back 9, which didn’t surprise his playing partner.
“His golf game is usually as crafty and accurate as his tennis game,” Cardiff’s Jim Lindsay said. “After that hot dog, his game really picked up.’
So has the scene at the St. Mark.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports