Kevin Marsh is one of the busiest and best amateur golfers in the country. He played in the 2006 Masters Tournament as the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. He was named the Southern California Golf Association Player of the Year in 2008. Two weeks ago, he won the Carlton Woods Invitational on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at The Woodlands, Texas, for the second consecutive year.
The next tournament Marsh will play is the 51st Santa Barbara City Golf Championship on Memorial Day weekend. “I really look forward to it every year,” he said. It is a chance for the 1991 Dos Pueblos High graduate to catch up with old friends and check out the younger golfers in the area. Also, the Santa Barbara Golf Club—known as Muni to old-timers like himself—is one of his favorite courses. He has nothing but good things to say about the par-70 public course squeezed on a sloping tract of land adjacent to Las Positas Road.
“Muni is just a lot of fun to play,” said Marsh, who won city titles in 2004 and 2005. “With the small little greens and the subtle elevation changes, it makes for a fun challenge. It is amazing how nice they keep it.”
Marsh, a real estate developer in Las Vegas, will find the course in splendid condition this month after the completion of an extensive renovation and restoration project. “We’ve made the course eco-friendly and more aesthetically pleasing,’ said Chris Talerico, the club’s director of golf. “It’s also more visually intimidating to golfers.”
Water hazards near the No. 3 and No. 16 holes are the most obvious new features. The ponds were made possible by the installation of catchment basins to trap the storm water that used to run off the course into surrounding parking lots and streets. Native plants rim the ponds, which are being inhabited by ducks, frogs, and wayward golf balls.
George Johnson, creeks restoration supervisor for City Parks and Recreation, said there is a citywide effort to stem the flow of polluted water by creating bio swales to hold and naturally filter the water. “The golf course is one of the bigger projects we’ve done,” Johnson said.
Other improvements include enlarged new greens at the 5th and 11th holes and a continuous cart path all the way around the course.
Talerico, 43, is in his second year as director after working for 17 years as an assistant at the golf club. He has seen it go through years when golfers were begging to get tee times, but more recently business has been slow “because of the downturn in the economy … and some people were unhappy with all the construction going on.”
Now the club is trying to lure them back with the improvements. “They used to complain that it was too hard to get a tee time, that play was too slow, and the greens were slow and bumpy,” Talerico said. “Now we have Internet booking, the pace is improved because we keep the rough mowed so it’s easy to find the balls, and the greens are much smoother and way, way faster.”
Marsh is eager to try it out. He’d like to pick up where he left off in Texas, where he surged from behind in the final round with birdies at Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, and 18. “I am playing some of the best golf of my life,” he said.
HALL OF FAME: Marsh is one of nine notables who will enter the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame at the organization’s 43rd annual awards banquet Monday, May 24. The other inductees are Alan Everest, Ann Latham, Kieran O’Leary-Roblee, Thor Schmidt, Ryan Spilborghs, Jim Ranta, Dan Cerda, and Kevin Brown. The program starts at 6 p.m. at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. For reservations, go to sbroundtable.org or call 967-8822.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Santa Barbara High came out on top of a tight Channel League pennant race—San Marcos and Dos Pueblos finished second and third—and the Dons will host their opening game of the CIF Southern Section Toyota Baseball Championships at 3:15 p.m., Friday, May 21, at Eddie Mathews Field.
SPINNING AND CYCLING: A variety of fitness activities will happen Saturday (9am-1pm) at Leadbetter Beach during the Tour de Shore, presented by the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The main event will be four hours of spinning … The Amgen Tour of California is bypassing Santa Barbara County this year. The eighth and final stage on Saturday is the closest—an 84-mile circuit race that will start (12:30pm) and finish in Thousand Oaks. Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack will be competing with three-time tour winner Levi Leipheimer, but look for Britain’s Mark Cavendish to be pouring it on in the final sprint