This morning, I had one of the most interesting golf experiences of my life. Those who follow my blog may know that in addition to golf, I also love baseball, and I make it a point to visit different stadiums when on one of my out-of-state trips.
Today, I got to combine the best of both worlds by experiencing a very special “golf course” set up inside Petco Park, the San Diego Padres’ home stadium. The course is open for this weekend only and the tee times sold out extremely quickly. There are rumors they might extend it more if this weekend goes well, but I wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to play the course. Luckily, I was able to get a media pass (finally, this blog pays off), which allowed me to attend today’s media preview day before the temporary course officially opens to the public tomorrow.
Petco Park partnered with Callaway to put on this unique event. As you play golf, you also kind of get a behind-the-scenes look at different parts of the ballpark. You start off in the media lounge and then the batting cages have been converted into a golf warm-up area with some clubs and nets to hit into. Between the first two holes, you go through the Padres locker room. Then, the course works from the right field stands all the way around to left field, ultimately ending with the “signature” hole with the tee situated atop the iconic Western Supply building.
I will provide a hole-by-hole course tour later with many photos.
I used the term “golf course” in quotes earlier because it’s hard to really call this an official golf course. It’s kind of a glorified pitching range because you only hit tee shots. All the greens and holes are down in the outfield and you never go down there to putt out. Each player hits two balls on each hole, except on the 9th. For that hole, you only get one shot.
However, you do keep a score, which is tracked by your group’s caddie (one of the Pad Squad girls) and then officially entered at the end of the round and ultimately displayed for everyone to see and compare. All holes are par-3s, and scoring for The Links at Petco is as follows:
Hole-in-one = 1 (Eagle)
Inside the painted circle = 2 (Birdie)
On the green = 3 (Par)
Off the green = 4 (Bogey)
Out of play (in the stands) = 5 (Double Bogey)
Clubs and balls are provided by Callaway, so players just needs to show up and have fun. I would recommend bringing your own glove, though, because those aren’t provided. Most holes just have different wedges available because none of the shots are long and they don’t want anything flying out of the stadium. That said, I felt each hole could have used one more club for my personal preferences. I was able to play with what they had and get the distances needed, but I ended up taking more full swings than I normally prefer. With wedges, I usually like to club up and swing easier or play a knock-down shot. Oh well.
Several holes have different prizes available for closest-to-pin within each group. One hole has a Callaway driver up for grabs if you get an ace. On the 9th, a hole-in-one will net you a full set of Callaway clubs.
Needless to say, The Links at Petco is a really unique and fun experience. Even if it’s not a real golf course, it’s something you won’t soon forget. After all, you get to hit golf balls all around one of the nicest ballparks in the league.
In addition to Callaway, the Padres and Petco Park, I want to thank my playing partners. We had some good times out there. I was paired with Jason Tenzer from MoreGolfToday.com, Tony Starks from PGA Magazine and Geoff Shackelford, blogger/editor for Golf Digest (geoffshackelford.com), noted author and contributor for Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. In fact, he was filming bits all round, so I might even see myself in the background on TV!
Here are a few random pictures from Petco Park (11/4/15):
And here is a hole-by-hole tour of the course:
Hole 1: Play Ball – 110 yards
The only hole on level ground as you hit from home plate to the dark blue flag in left centerfield. Very interesting this morning with a lot of people around the first tee. I definitely felt a bit nervous, but did okay with a par.
Hole 2: Beerfest – 145 yards
The longest hole on the course and the No. 1 handicap, but playing much shorter with the drop in elevation from the far right field stands across to the orange flag in far left field.
Hole 3: Learn From a Pro – 76 yards
A couple of Callaway pros are there to help you choose a club on this awkward little hole that is very tough to judge as you hit down to the pink flag in centerfield. Adding some challenge is the fact that the tee box has you pointing well left of target, so you have to adjust accordingly with your stance.
Hole 4: Bad Weather – 132 yards
They had a little foam machine set up to simulate some rare San Diego snow. Oddly enough, the temperature did drop here as the wind picked up and the clouds covered up the sun overhead. This hole plays to the light blue flag in left field.
Hole 5: Burgers and Jack – 125 yards
This hole plays from above home plate and to the red flag just behind second base. Another tricky one to judge, especially when the wind is swirling in the stadium.
Hole 6: Padres – 112 yards
This hole plays parallel with the baselines as you aim for the yellow flag behind second base.
Hole 7: Golf Movies – 62 yards
The theme for this hole is to pay homage to some famous golf movies like Happy Gilmore and of course Caddyshack. A Carl Spackler impersonator is your caddy for this hole and if you start up a conversation with him, you will hear his most famous quotes. It’s a very fun touch. In addition, he recommends you play at least one of your shots with a hockey stick. This is a very short hole that’s kind of a straight drop down to the light blue flag right in front of you. I attempted the hockey stick, but had no idea how it would react with the ball. The answer is not well. I duffed it straight down into the seats below!
Hole 8: Candy – 96 yards
The Candy Princess greets you as you walk up to the tee and there are jars of tasty candy that you can pilfer before you take your swings. Here, you play again to the pink hole in centerfield.
Hole 9: Callaway – 144 yards
You take the elevator up to the roof of the Western Supply building for this final signature hole. You get a nice elevated view of everything as you get one and only shot at the green flag all the way across in right field. It’s a very fun way to finish.