The Coronado Municipal Golf Course, which opened in 1957, is one of the busiest golf courses in San Diego, and according to Golf Pass and Travel Life’s ‘Golfing in America,’ it is reported and “regarded as one of the finest public golf courses in North America — probably the world – and the sixth busiest in the United States — Coronado averages 100,000 rounds a year.” The golf course supports locals and visitors, offering so much for so many, including youth and Veterans, as well as is home to a beautiful and scenic venue for community events year round. The facility can host fundraising tournaments and events, corporate gatherings, weddings, and more and has restaurant and venue space at Feast & Fareway.
Brian Smock, PGA, the golf course Head Professional, and his team gave us some time to recap the year, in the midst of their busy schedule teaching and keeping the course running smooth. Brian manages the entire facility, as well as oversees all the programs. He quickly voiced that the priority of his team is to ensure we have a balanced group of players and members. This includes men’s club, women’s club, seniors, juniors, and both Coronado High School and Mar Vista High School golf teams who use the course to practice. He also explained the job of the team to keep a balance, and that the ‘sweet spot’ is a well-rounded diverse course, but while charging enough to keep it operational.
Given how busy the course is, he explained the best way to schedule a tee time is book online three to 14 days out (the city charges advance booking fees). Or you can book at 6am two days out with the starter. Also, day of, the back nine starts at 6 am to 7:30 am for the first 28 that show up! In the summer, the back nine rates are $25.
We then got to talk about PGA HOPE, as the course just finished their second session. I had learned about this program a few months ago and the amazing impact it has had for Veterans. For those who do not know about PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), it is a “flagship military engagement program of PGA REACH*. PGA Hope is a free adaptive program that introduces Veterans with disabilities to golf to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.” [*PGA REACH is the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America]
Brian explained they just finished their second six week course! It included Brian and instructors Chris Lempa and Petra Cole, every Wednesday from 10 am to 1 pm, with six weeks of instruction and course time. He also shared that Coronado is one of the few golf courses in Southern California participating.
His team and instructors love the program and they’ve seen first-hand how much it helps Veterans. He said seeing how important this program is for Veterans, their goal is 30 weeks a year, so five to six sessions per year. Brian reiterated, “the VA needs programs likes these to help the overall wellbeing of individuals. PGA HOPE gets them out and helps address a low impact activity, while coping with PTSD.”
Brian shared briefly one story, which drew tears to my eyes, of one veteran who joined the program and now practices almost every day at the course. The Veteran lost a limb, and didn’t do a lot of sport activities prior and this program has really changed his life. Brian closed out by expressing that the program takes a lot of dedication, and although Chris and Petra are really busy, they, and everyone at the course are really honored to be a part of it.
Next I got the chance to interview Mark Geddes, who was recently promoted to General Manager. Mark was already a part of the team as assistant pro, but this was a wonderful opportunity for him. A PGA Member, in 2021 he finished 17th at the National Club Pro Championship in Port Lucie as part of the PGA Professional Championship. He arrived in Coronado in February 2017, originally from Liverpool England. Knowing how busy he was in this new role, we kept the interview short, but asked ultimately what he would like to accomplish in this role. He politely in his English accent said, “continue the wonderful progress we have made over the last five years, increasing efficiency, and serving the community with an excellent experience!”
In addition to that recent staff change, Tim Perue retired, and the new tournament director is Lucas Swisher. Lastly I got to interview Chris Lempa and Petra Cole, Coronado’s two other PGA professionals and teaching staff (who I like to say Brian politely stole from Torrey Pines). You can read their bios at golfcoronado.com, along with bios for Brian and Mark. Both Chris and Petra quickly applauded the PGA Junior League, which had six teams this year, and had an amazing season.
Petra started at the Coronado course part-time in 2018, and golfers, the youth (including my daughter a PGA Junior League and LPGA player, who loves golfing because of Petra and Chris) and community quickly saw what an amazing addition she was. Petra and Chris now have full time positions at Coronado, a welcome addition.
Given how busy Petra and Chris are, getting an interview was harder said than done. The first thing Petra and Chris reiterated was, their goal is to appeal to everyone when developing programming. I quickly learned how wonderful their summer programming is, in addition to being available for private lessons it includes: Summer Camps, Jr. Classes and Clinics, Women’s Clinics, Couples Pairing (including on the course), for all ages starting at (4 years old), and for all skill levels. They excitedly said they are starting Family Golf Clinics as well, which I reiterated is absolutely amazing. I asked the best way to reach them, they said via the pro shop and then they even gave me permission to give their email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]
After our interview, I was excited to tell friends, families and colleagues, I know who love golf, including myself, to make sure they sign up for classes and programs. As I closed out the interview of our very own ’emerald green gem,’ I not only felt inspired to play more golf and sign up for classes, I truly understood the course’s passion to build programs, promote and support the love of the sport, while helping individuals and the community learn how to play. A golf lover myself (it’s a mental health sanctuary at will), I rediscovered it a few years ago. I fell in love with our course and the team even more, not thinking that was even possible. It’s so wonderful to know how each of them individually and collectively contribute to the love of golf. Coronado is very lucky to have Brian and the amazing team who give so much care to the programming and sport.
Coronado Golf Course
2000 Visalia Row, Coronado
Feast & Fareway