Hate Me but Love This


If there's one thing I've learned during my summer tour of America, it's that I am a polarizing person.
I think of myself as a nice guy. My girlfriend seems to like me ' perhaps it's because she doesn't realize that there are far better looking and far, far wealthier men available. And, my 13-year-old son, Gabriel, tolerates me which is the best you can hope for from a 13-year-old boy.
To assuage the guilt I feel for actually accepting money for my Ambassador of Fun gig, I run a charity for Orphans. I sincerely strive to make the world a better and more peaceful place. Yet, I do seem to anger some golf readers with the words I write. So, ummm sorry.
Thanks to modern technology, I hear every complaint and compliment. I can log onto the Internet at a Rocky Mountain truck stop, a Grand Canyon coffee shop or an Alberta, Canada, Toyota dealership where my Prius broke down and read your e-mails asking, 'Who are you to suggest that Tiger Woods might be happier in retirement?... Jackass.' Or, 'Who are you to make fun of Augusta National in favor of some alcohol-laden charity event run by Surfers in Malibu?... Dumbass. And, 'Who are you to get paid to write and work on your golf game just to see if you can get as good as you were when you were 17 (and sucked)?... Moron. Just WHO are you, and why don't you get a real job?'
Thanks for all the love Wi-Fi.
Well, for those Fechter-haters out there (presently 23%), I have no idea how I got to do the things that I am doing, other than to say that yes, I'm a lovable idiot, and I have yet to be offered a 'real' job in construction management or investment banking. Thank the Lord.
For the past month, I have been working and traveling the whole of America with two very special people ' my beautiful, young, intelligent girlfriend, and my son. It's our last gasp of open-road freedom before both of them go back to school ' she for a PhD, and he for the eighth grade.
So, while in the Rockies, Malibu, the Oregon Coast or islands of Washington State, we have also been visiting some of the best golf courses in our nation as I fulfill my duties as the Ambassador of Fun for Greenway Golf Management.
Let me tell you about one: Stevinson Ranch Golf Course in the central valley of Calif., just two hours away from San Francisco and Sacramento.
In an age when most golf management companies target law firm partners for their clientele, Greenway caters to golfers. For under $70, not too far from Yosemite National Park in California, you can harken back to golf's Scottish roots and play Stevinson Ranch Golf Course. Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth and the same is true for Stevinson Ranch.
Built by George Kelley, a former professional golfer on the European and Australian circuits, Stevinson Ranch is on Kelley family land that was originally almond groves. Surrounding the course are wetland canals, marshes and the 60 acre Honda Lake. It is land so fertile that immediately beside Stevinson Ranch is a sod farm that grows all the grass for the Super Bowl. Just north of 'the Ranch' is an area called Humboldt County, where they grow all the 'grass' for surfers and stockbrokers. Carl Spacklers heaven.
Stevinson Ranch may be the greatest bargain in golf. Filled with the howls of coyotes at night, blue herons, wood ducks and scads of red winged blackbirds during the day, Stevinson Ranch is also home to the world's friendliest jack rabbits. It is one of only four golf courses in the world to receive the coveted 'Signature' status from The Audobon Society for its dedication to environmental excellence. Golf Digest rated Stevinson at 4 1/2 stars for 'Overall golf experience' in California. The only courses rated higher were Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, both of which cost more than five times more than Stevinson.
Stevinson Ranch is George Kelley's personal Augusta National. The only difference is that 'the Ranch' is very much open to you and me. You don't have to be the first born son of Hootie Johnson to get a tee time; you just have to pick up the phone.
I am not trying to make you hate me, so I won't go on about the hours I spent at the outdoor heated swimming pool, the outdoor jacuzzi or the world-recognized practice facility. I will not go on about how Stevinson feels alternately Southwestern, Californian and Scottish. I will also not go on about how great my girlfriend looks in a bikini. Again, it's my story, and I'll tell it any way I want.
I won't tell you how she and I jogged the course every morning at 6 a.m. through native grasses, wetlands and rolling turf while watching giant grass carp and largemouth bass feed in the ponds.
I absolutely will not go on about how fantastic the bar and restaurant are at Stevinson Ranch. How they cater to your every need 24 hours a day. And the steak? It's so good that they serve it at PETA conventions.
I will not go on about how I spent every day 'working' on my golf game between massages and moonlight dances with my beautiful blonde girlfriend. Forget Ambassador of Fun, I'm pushing for Ambassador of Peace, Love and Understanding.
So, go ahead and hate me for the words I write if you must. But, you are making a mistake if you never visit Stevinson Ranch golf course and its swales reminiscent of the Scottish highlands. Stevinson Ranch is a place often mentioned with the likes of Prairie Dunes in Kansas, Bandon Dunes in Oregon and the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. Any of those available for $70?
George Kelley built his dream course. He's got cottages so you can stay as long as you like. Stevinson Ranch is simply a testament to all that is great about golf, nature and service.
If I can talk you, my fellow golfer, into playing just one round at 'the Ranch,' you may even forgive me for suggesting that Tiger turn his back on the game. Although, I doubt my mother ever will.
To learn more of how Stevinson Ranch inter-mingles nature and golf, visit www.stevinsonranchgolf.com
Write in with tales of your favorite course. And, perhaps on my next trip across the country we can share a round and write about it for GOLF CHANNEL.
Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
Related Links:
  • The Gratitude Project
  • Greenway Golf