Friday, December 19, 2008

Reidar Burgeson one of Norcal's players of the week

Burgeson named one of three stars for week of Dec. 15, 2008

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Reidar Burgeson of the Jets Squirt B team in Vacaville had an outstanding Thanksgiving weekend, leading his team as captain to take first place in the 2008 Silver Stick Regional tournament in San Jose. Burgeson led all of the tournament players in his division in points with 13 goals and 6 assists and currently has 38 goals and 18 assists total on the season. To earn the championship the Jets Squirt B team went undefeated in six straight games, taking their regular season win streak to 11-0.

The tournament win allows the Jets to travel to Pelham, Ontario Canada in January to play for the Silver Stick National Championships against the winners in other regions of Canada and the U.S. including Colorado, Texas, Alabama and Maryland The Jets are currently in first place of the NorCal Squirt B division, undefeated in the regular season at 5-0.

For a link to his mention on the Dec. 18 Sharks vs. Red Wings broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet, click below:

Some parents need a dose of reality about NHL dreams

Parental Guidance
By CEAN BURGESON (for Rubber Magazine)

They push their child athletes to the brink – buying them the best equipment, sending them to the finest camps, and purchasing expensive private lessons with expert coaches.

What I’m talking about are those parents who are convinced – sometimes absolutely certain – that their children will be professional athletes. I’ve seen them. I’ve met them. I’ve heard their stories. I’ve coached their kids.

Let’s face it. In youth hockey every young kid dreams of some day playing in the NHL. There’s something about the sport which holds a certain kind of magic for anyone who plays it. With my son and the other kids I’ve worked with, I think there’s absolutely no reason to squash these dreams, either. But as parents we need to be realistic about how much money, time, and other heartache to invest in a youth athlete in an attempt to get them into the NHL.

No matter how many goals your son scores as a Squirt or Pee Wee, the ability of a player 10-12 years old won’t necessarily dictate that they will continue to dominate at their age level as they progress. Early success doesn’t always predict later success, and there are many hurdles to overcome to make it to the big leagues. There are travel teams, tournament teams, tier teams, junior teams, not to mention prep school and high school teams across the country and Canada, all producing players with the same dream. And if a college scholarship is the goal, then there’s some other sobering information that parents need to hear.

Of the 52 colleges and universities that have Division I hockey teams, six don't grant athletic scholarships because they belong to the Ivy League. NCAA rules allow each of the other schools to award the equivalent of 18 full hockey scholarships per year divided among up to 30 athletes. Then, after playing in the juniors or college, if they manage to make it into the NHL draft, the numbers get even more daunting.

In a 20 year study of the pro hockey draft it was found that 2 percent of the picks became superstars, 4 percent of them transformed into stars and impact players, 15 percent became good or average players, and roughly 79 percent didn’t become NHL players at all. Overall, 55 percent of the draftees never even played a single game in the NHL.
I don’t mean to dampen the spirits of any youth hockey player. Parents should let their young athletes determine the amount and type of hockey that they want to play – but don’t sacrifice your entire life or savings account to hockey. Allow kids to focus on having fun with the sport without the added pressure of grooming them for a shot at the pros and they’ll end up a winner no matter where their career takes them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hecka Hockey Show launches on You Tube

My 9-year-old son Reidar and I have started a weekly web program called "Hecka Hockey," which will center on hockey here in Northern California and the NHL.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Vacaville Jets Squirt B wins Silver Stick Western Regional

By CEAN BURGESON for Rubber Magazine and Youth Hockey Report

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B team will advance to the prestigious Silver Stick International Championships in Pelham, Ontario Canada after winning the San Jose Silver Stick Western Regional Championship over Thanksgiving Weekend. To take the regional cup the Squirts went undefeated in a six game tournament consisting of the best Squirt B teams in Northern California.

After an amazing inaugural year for Squirt B hockey in 2007/2008 – placing 3rd in the California state championships – the Vacaville Jets continue to build a hockey program that competes with the best in the western U.S. “Hard work, dedicated players and parents, great coaches and a supportive community all contributed to the team’s success,” said Team Manager Shannon Nadasdy.

This was the first championship win for the Vacaville Squirts for the 2008/2009 season, and Head Coach Roman Hubalek predicted that this won’t be the last either. “This is only one of many successes you will have this season,” Hubalek told his team as he held up the cup after the championship game. The Squirts were undefeated in their regular season going into the tournament, increasing their streak to 11 straight wins.

The International Silver Stick Association was founded in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada in 1908 and has been promoting goodwill through the medium of international hockey competition for youths of all nations for 100 years. The trophy for this event is a solid silver hockey stick which is passed from winning team to winning team. The regional qualifications in the United States are held each Thanksgiving weekend in San Jose, Colorado, Texas, Alabama and Maryland.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coming in to work the other day the sun and clouds combined to create some eerie lighting effects that I thought would look good in monochrome.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Vacaville Jets Squirt B starts off regular season 3-0

By CEAN BURGESON (For Rubber Magazine and Youth Hockey Report)

Vacaville, Calif. -- This season the Vacaville Jets continue to grow their program, fielding travel teams at the Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget 18A and a tier team at the Midget 16AA level. After pre-season play was completed in October, all of the travel teams were designated to play in the A division with the exception of the Squirts who will play as a B team.

Despite being placed in the lower division, the Squirts, led by Captain Reidar Burgeson (18 goals, 5 assists), Assistant Captains Hunter Hansen (11 goals, 5 assists) and Sam Morton (7 goals, 7 assists) have won their first three regular season games and are in first place in the NorCal youth hockey league, beating the Santa Rosa Flyers (6-3), Lake Tahoe Grizzlies (14-1), and Tri-Valley Blue Devils (5-1). Their perfect season so far is in part due to goalie Kristian Rogers, who is backing up the team this year with a .828 save percentage to date.

The Jets were also honored to have been chosen to play a two minute exhibition scrimmage between periods of the Nov. 22 San Jose Sharks game when they faced off against the Washington Capitals at HP Pavilion.

“We’re happy with the start this team has had so far after a rough pre-season and we expect that they will enjoy great success during the regular season,” said Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “There are still a lot of games left for the Squirts to prove themselves and we expect they will turn a few heads in tournament play this year.”

Moving your child up a level – does it help or hurt?

By CEAN BURGESON (For California Rubber magazine)

It’s a question heard each fall at hockey rinks: “Should we move Billy up a level this year?”

Many parents contemplate moving their child up early in order to “give him more of a challenge.” The levels of USA Hockey are bracketed by age in such a way that players of similar skills will usually play together, but no matter what, there will always be players who excel more than others. I agree that moving a player up will allow him to play with and against better players who will force him to work harder and improve his skills, but he’d do that by moving up at the proper time anyway.

Some parents fear that their child may be bored at their current level. As a coach, I can tell you that most young hockey players aren’t bored with being able to skate around the other players and score time and again. Why not let your child be a star for a year or two? As his career progresses he may not have another 70-goal season again. Let him enjoy it while he can.

It’s also important to question the emotional readiness of the athlete. I’ve seen plenty of good players who excel at skating, passing, and shooting but don’t have the maturity to play at the next level yet. The damage that could be done to a player’s confidence by putting him in a more demanding playing environment before he’s ready could follow him for the rest of his playing career.

Also important to this discussion is the fairness factor. If a star player abandons his team, what effect will that have? Will it give them a weaker bench? Will the team still be able to field enough players to be competitive? How will his former teammates and their parents feel about him leaving?

By moving a child up early in a travel program, a properly aged child might have to be cut in order to make room. At a rink without a house team to fall back on this could force a child out of hockey completely. All things considered, the goal of any good youth hockey program should be to encourage participation from everyone regardless of his or her skill level. Leave no hockey player behind, so to speak.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, youth hockey players are usually better off playing with their same-aged teammates.

Cean Burgeson is a hockey writer, player, and has been a youth coach in Michigan and California.

Rink shopping: Do it for the right reasons

Parental Guidance with Cean Burgeson (For California Rubber magazine)

Now that preseason play has ended and the regular youth hockey season is underway, there’s been some shifting of players amongst teams in California. This happens every year and can be attributed to several factors such as a player’s skill level suitability for a particular team or the amount of ice time he may get.

I have mixed feelings about moving a child to another program at a young age, especially the Mite or Squirt level. In most cases, players should roster with the rink that is closest to their home. It only makes sense when considering the amount of time spent either at the rink or driving to and from the rink during the season. With gas prices constantly fluctuating, this can turn into a serious cost consideration as well.

Cost of the rink’s programs is also a huge factor. Should a player be moved to another rink because the cost of hockey is cheaper there? If it means keeping the player in the sport when otherwise the cost would prohibit him or her from playing, then the answer is “yes.”

Moving because a player has a conflict with a coach is a tricky issue. Let’s face it, there are some coaches out there who are screamers and not all kids respond to this coaching method. There are also coaches who emphasize winning more than equal ice time. If a parent or player feels these situations are causing barriers to their child’s development, then a move to another hockey program might be in order.

It should be noted, however, that later in life players won’t be able to choose their coaches. They’ll have to learn to live with the ones they get. It’s a lesson that some youth players may as well learn now.

I have to admit one big problem I have with switching programs, though. I have a hard time watching a talented player leave simply for what they perceive as a “better” hockey program. As I’m reminded by my son who is a squirt: “you should play for the logo on the front and not the name on the back.”

Sure, he stole that quote from a television commercial, but the sentiment is incredibly accurate. The most important factor to consider when looking for a rink to start off a young player’s career is that of commitment. In any good hockey program there should be a level of commitment to the player’s growth and skill development. Transversely, there should be a commitment on the part of the parents and player to the rink and the growth of that local hockey program. Both are essential to the success of the sport here in California.

Let’s not forget that youth sports are supposed to be about fun. Younger hockey players should be instilled with the idea that it’s more important to enjoy playing than it is to enjoy winning. If winning becomes more important, they’re playing for the wrong reasons.

Roller hockey players can experience success transitioning to ice hockey

By CEAN BURGESON (For California Rubber magazine)

For those of us who grew up in the Midwest, Canada, or on the East Coast, playing ice hockey was as easy as shoveling off a lake or pond and lacing up the skates. In Northern California, transplants from these cold weather regions of the U.S. have a different option when introducing their own children to the sport of ice hockey – roller hockey.

“Roller hockey may be the best forum in starting to play the game of hockey,” says Jerry Orlando, who is the manager of Vacaville Ice Sports, home of the Vacaville Jets hockey program.

One of the barriers to starting ice hockey for younger players in California as opposed to playing out east is the premium price paid for ice time. “Ice hockey is very expensive in California because of the cost of making and keeping ice,” says Orlando. “Roller hockey obviously doesn’t have these costs. This makes it affordable to the average family.”

Making the move from roller to ice hockey is a relatively easy process for players, says Orlando. “The skill set developed in roller hockey transitions very easily to ice hockey. In fact roller hockey players usually are better stick handlers and shoot the puck better than ice hockey players because the puck does not move as well on a sport court as it does on ice. The only draw back is skating, but if taught properly the roller hockey stride can be the same as an ice hockey stride.”

For kids wanting to move up to ice hockey it’s better to do it sooner rather than later, though, as Vacaville Jets Squirt Travel Assistant Coach Matt Morton advises. Both of his sons, 9-year-old Sam and 11-year-old Timmy played roller before ice hockey. “It’s best to get them moved over by around 8 or 9-years-old,” he says. “After that age there are some ingrained habits that players have from roller hockey that are harder to break for ice hockey, such as using a foot-drag stopping method rather than a proper hockey stop.”

Mark Longshore, whose 8-year-old son Gabe switched from roller to ice hockey as a Mite this year says that the transition has been pretty smooth. “The skating transfers over well, but for the stopping and tight corners there’s a bit of a learning curve. Passing and shooting is the same. There wasn’t off sides where he played roller hockey, either, so he’s still learning that.”

Parents should be encouraged to know that youth players who start out playing on dry land before making the move to the ice can still be as successful as those who have played ice hockey exclusively for their entire careers. “My kids both started in roller hockey,” says Orlando. “It taught them the basic fundamentals of the game and gave them skill sets that they took from the court to the ice. It certainly didn’t hurt my daughter Elena, who goes to the top hockey prep school in the U.S., Shattuck-St.Mary's, and is currently on their twice national championship prep team – so I’m a proponent of starting at roller and transitioning to ice.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cache Creek releases its own distinctive wines

(From Destination: Cache Creek by Cean Burgeson)

Native Americans have long had a connection with the Capay Valley. “For thousands of years the Wintun people dwelled in the oak forests, rolling hills, and grasslands along Cache Creek,” says Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians Tribal Chairman Marshall McKay. “They hunted, fished, cared for their families, and created eternal bonds with the land.” Today much of this land, including the place where the Rumsey Band chose to build Cache Creek Casino Resort, is planted with vineyards.

“Down on the 13th hole of Yocha-De-He Golf Club we have about five acres of grapes, and we have 10 acres out in front of the resort and across the street,” according to Randy Takemoto, Cache Creek’s General Manager. “There’s about an acre of Cabernet, six acres of Syrah, and three acres of Viognier just out front. On the golf course there’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc grapes.”
The tribal legacy of environmental respect and stewardship continues through the care and nurturing of these grapes in two new wines which were bottled for the first time in July. The first vintage, from 2006, is called “Tuluk’a” and is a Syrah, blended with 80 percent Syrah grapes, 10 percent Cabernet grapes, and 10 percent Viognier grapes. Shortly after that vintage, the second wine, a 2007 Viognier called “Chama” was bottled.

Look for them to appear on Cache Creek’s wine lists in the coming months. “A 2007 Cabernet and Syrah will also follow next year,” adds Takemoto.
Both the tribe and casino are excited to be able to take this first step into creating a signature Cache Creek wine. “The goal of the Tribe and the resort is to create a very nice high quality wine,” says Randy Takemoto, Cache Creek’s General Manager. “And I think that we’re on our way to doing that.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baccarat isn't just a game for secret agents

(From Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

Baccarat is a game of mystery to a lot of gamblers despite the fact that it can be found in many American casinos. “There’s a mystique or an aura about it,” says Bill Harland, VP of Table Games for Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, CA. Known by many as a game played by tuxedoed players on the French Riviera in James Bond movies, in reality it’s an easy game to learn. “It’s a popular game because the decisions are already made for the player, making it simple to play. You just sit down, place your bet, get a feel for the table, and play your instincts.”

The table
Each player has three betting areas associated with his/her position at the table. They are: "Banker", "Player" or "Tie.” An electronic board keeps track of which hands win on our Mini-Baccarat tables, similar to a Roulette board, so players can see trends and determine their bets. Some gamblers choose to track the results of each hand by writing them on a pad.

Cache Creek has 14 Mini-Baccarat and two full-sized Baccarat tables. “One difference between Mini-Bac and Baccarat is that in Baccarat you allow the players to handle the cards,” says Harland. “In Mini-Bac the dealer handles the cards. Handling of the cards by players is also sometimes referred to as “sweating the cards.”

There are seven positions each with two betting spots on a Mini-Baccarat table for a total of 14 possible players. The larger tables accommodate 12 players. “The game is popular, especially among Asians, because it’s a community game,” says Harland. “The game is played in groups, adding a social aspect, since the tables can accommodate such a large number of players. It spurs a social interaction along with the gambling.”

The object is to bet either the Player or Banker hoping that the cards accumulate a point total closest to 9 on two or three cards. Aces count as 1, cards 2 through 9 count at face value, 10s and face cards count as 0. If you're dealt a 9 and a 7, for example, the combined total is counted as 6 rather than 16. If you receive a 3 and an 8, the total is not 11, but is instead counted as 1.

It’s not possible to have a combination of cards with a combined total greater than 9. The perfect hand is one that equals 9 exactly in the first two cards. 8 is the second-best hand and, along with the 9, these two hands make up the two "natural" hands.

Betting and Payouts
Payouts are very straightforward. If you bet on a winning hand, you'll be paid at 1 to 1. If that winner is the Banker hand, a five percent commission is deducted. If the winning hand belongs to the Player, no commission is paid. If you bet on a tie, the payoff is a whopping 8 to 1. Commissions are paid after each hand on Mini-Baccarat tables, and on the large Baccarat tables commissions are tracked and settled at the end of the shoe.

You don’t have to visit the High Limit room to play, either. Cache Creek’s table limits range from $10 (Mini-Bac) to $50 minimum (Big-Bac), and have up to $1,000 and $5,000 table maximums depending on when you play.

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting table game that promotes group interaction and is simple to play, Baccarat is definitely a game you’ll want to check out next time you visit Cache Creek.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pai Gow Poker fun and easy

(From Destination: Cache Creek magazine)

When you walk the casino floor at Cache Creek on a weekend, you’ll likely notice the Pai Gow Poker tables are full and surrounded by players waiting for their chance to play. Cache Creek Vice President of Table Games Bill Harland says the game is popular for many reasons. “You don’t have to make a lot of decisions, but the game still incorporates poker hands into play and you can play a fairly long time because there are a lot of ties.”

Harland encourages anyone who likes poker to give Pai Gow a try, and dispels some of the mystery surrounding the game. “Pai Gow Poker is easy to play. If you understand the rankings of a poker hand, then you can certainly play. For example, an Ace High hand beats a King High hand, a Pair beats Ace High, and so on.”

At its base, the strategy is to beat the dealer’s two hands with your two hands. “You’re dealt seven cards from which you form your two hands: a five-card hand (back hand or high hand) and a two-card hand (front hand or low hand). The five-card hand must be higher in rank than the two-card.” Adding to the possibility of constructing a winning hand are the Jokers, which can be used to complete a straight, flush, or as an Ace.

If you beat both of the dealer’s hands, you win. If you only beat one of the hands, don’t worry – it’s a push. “There’s a 5 percent commission taken on all winning hands,” Harland reminds new players. You can play the Fortune Bonus of $1 to $25 to increase your winnings, so the 5 percent doesn’t reduce payouts much. Fortune Bonuses pay out for hands such as Full Houses and Flushes, regardless of whether you break them up between the high and low hand.

One aspect of the game that Harland is excited about is the Pai Gow Progressives which were recently added. “For example, today our jackpot is over $425,000 and climbing. To win the jackpot, you must wager $5 on the progressive. If you make the $5 wager on the Progressive and are dealt a seven card Straight Flush, you can call for the Brinks Armored Truck to help you haul away the loot.”

There’s more than one way to win a share of that big money, too. “If you’re dealt five Aces and make the $5 Progressive wager, you take home 10 percent of the progressive amount,” explains Harland. “Someone recently won almost $43,000 on that hand.”

It’s easy for beginners to get a little help on a tough hand. If you’re stumped, just ask about the “house way” to play. “If you have any questions please ask one of our dealers – they’ll be happy to assist,” says Harland.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

‘All aboard!’ the Sacramento River train

(From Destination: Cache Creek magazine)

Re-launched in July 2005 by the Sierra Railroad Company, the Sacramento River Train in Woodland is one of the newest dinner trains in the country. Trips aboard the train feature food and entertainment, enjoyed while passengers view the countryside gliding slowly past their window at the leisurely pace of 15 miles per hour.
“It’s a very special memorable occasion,” says Sierra Railroad President Chris Hart. “People are there for the entertainment, but also the experience. It’s like a three hour cruise. What I love about it is the sense of completely getting away from what’s normal and going on a journey with others.”

Fraught with history, the train operates on the 16-mile “Woodland Branch” between Woodland and West Sacramento, originally constructed as a link between the fertile farmlands of Yolo County and the developing city of Sacramento. The Sierra Railroad is comprised of two other trains as well: the Skunk Train which operates on the North Coast of California, and the Sierra, based 70 miles south in Oakdale. Each of them is a working preservation of our country’s love affair with this nostalgic mode of transportation.

Hart says that each trip for the Woodland train includes three phases. “First, we leave Woodland and go across the Fremont Trestle, the longest wooden trestle in Northern California – a mile and a half long. The next portion of the trip, we go along the Sacramento River. For the remaining portion we go through farmland.”
In addition to beautiful scenery, the Sacramento River Train features a variety of daytime and evening trips with food and entertainment. “We run sunset dinners,” says Hart. “We do murder mysteries – a zany, loud, fun show – where you have the actors come right into the cars. And we do a great train robbery that’s more of a daytime barbecue trip with a bunch of western characters. We also do a Sunday Brunch.” Different seasonal and special events are scheduled around holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

With all of these offerings, there’s something for riders of all ages to enjoy. “You show me someone and I think I’ve got a train for them,” says Hart. “We’ve created different trips that we think will appeal to everyone.”
Located 15 minutes from Sacramento and a half hour from Cache Creek, the train boards in Woodland and goes on a 32-mile trip lasting 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours. There are open air and lounge cars to explore, so riders don’t have to worry about sitting the entire time. Trips are offered every week of the year. Call (800) 866-1690 for reservations, or for more information surf to:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10 tips on how to deal with STRESS

(From Cache Chronicle)

The kids are fighting over the remote control while the baby pulls over a glass on the coffee table, spilling orange juice into your laptop. Simultaneously, the dog deposits the remains of his lunch on the carpet by the front door as the phone rings and your mother chides you for not visiting in over a month. You’re late for work and you’ve hit ignore on your cell phone three times since the alarm went off this morning. Add to this that you’re an hour late for work, there’s no gas in your car, and you have a meeting first thing for which you haven’t begun to prepare.

Our worlds have become increasingly fast paced, and all of this frenetic activity means one thing: STRESS. How can we relieve some of this stress and avoid the inevitable nervous breakdown? Try a few of these tips.

1. Exercise. I know you are thinking, “Where will I find the time?” You don’t have to run a marathon, just add a little more activity to your life. Take a walk on your lunch break, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or motivate the whole family to take a walk after dinner. Shoot some hoops with the kids. Stress is released from the body from physical exertion.

2. Eat better. Switching from a donut to oatmeal for breakfast will trim your waistline and make you feel better about yourself. It will also help to fuel you up for the day. If you’re more energized to tackle the tasks at hand, you won’t feel as stressed.

3. Write it out. Not everyone is a writer, but anyone can journal their feelings onto a piece of paper, into a word document on their laptop, or even on a Blog. Getting out the feelings of frustration in written form has a cathartic affect on the mind.

4. Cut back on the stimulants. Yes, many of us cannot function without that morning cup of coffee. But are two or three cups really necessary? If you’re too wired up, it can affect your stress levels, and it isn’t healthy either. Drink less coffee and soda.

5. Drink in moderation. It may seem like a beer at the end of the day can relax us and relieve a little stress, but drinking every day and drinking more than one or two drinks at a time isn’t healthy, and isn’t really relieving stress as much as it’s masking it.

6. Practice relaxation techniques. If your body is relaxed, it isn’t feeling the effects of stress. Try meditation, yoga, relaxed breathing techniques, or other methods to slow down for a few minutes each day and get in touch with your self.

7. Manage your time better. Use a planner, Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, your smart phone or personal digital assistant to organize your day more efficiently. The more orderly your life is, the less stressed you’ll be, and you’ll also be less apt to schedule multiple commitments at the same time.

8. Make lists. Make a list for yourself on your phone, computer, or paper of what you need to do, and you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Tackle one task at a time and mark them off when they’re completed. It’s a satisfying feeling to eliminate each job from the list.

9. Do something you enjoy, even if only for few minutes each day. Garden, do a Sudoku puzzle, swing the golf club, or walk the dog. Life is short. You have to leave some time for fun. If you have something fun to look forward to each day, all of that hard work will seem more worth it.

10. Learn to say no. Having too many commitments is the reason why we feel stressed. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. You don’t have to volunteer for every work assignment, every school committee, and to coach all of the kids’ sports. Pick a few of these and do them well. Relax and let someone else volunteer for the rest of those positions. You don’t have to save the whole world all by yourself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yocha-De-He Golf Club: A unique golf experience

(From Destination: Cache Creek Magazine)

“I’ve been told it’s absolutely the best golf course in the Sacramento market, and it’s comparable to courses down in Monterey,” says Daniel Kane, Director of Golf for Cache Creek Casino Resort. This is the type of feedback Kane has been getting about Cache Creek’s newest guest amenity, the Yocha-De-He Golf Club.

Golfers will find that Yocha-De-He is more than just a place to play golf – it’s a premiere golf experience. “It’s a championship-caliber golf course managed by Troon Golf, the leader in upscale golf course management,” says Kane. “This means we are creating the country club experience for every guest, with services from bag drop to food and beverage services to overall care of the course itself.”

These high standards have been implemented with plans that the golf course will attract corporate events from a national market as well as collegiate events and professional tours. “The experience is great, especially from a service level, which begins with valet parking, and golf course staff will make contact with golfers six or seven times over the course of a round. They’ll receive a five-star service level.”

Kane’s goal is to ensure that golfers maximize the enjoyment of their round while playing the course. That’s why tee times will be set at 15 minute intervals, rather than seven or eight minute intervals, like many other courses. This will ensure that golfers won’t feel pushed or pressured during their round by other golfers.

“I want to make sure everyone has a great experience,” says Kane. “Golfing Yocha-De-He is more about the experience than anything else.” Part of that experience comes from the secluded setting of the course, and the course design, which heavily showcases the natural beauty of the surrounding valley, thanks to course designer Brad Bell.

According to Bell, the best destination resorts with golf courses are ones that offer something people don’t get to see everyday. “Yocha-De-He is very noteworthy,” he says. “Many of our patrons will never again have the opportunity to play a course like this. There are several ‘wow factor’ moments, because the site itself is so beautiful.” Bell’s background includes the creation of Teal Bend in Sacramento, Turkey Creek in Lincoln, and Coyote Moon in Truckee.

His latest creation, Yocha-De-He, covers close to 165 acres and is nestled in a secluded valley about a half-mile from Cache Creek Casino Resort. Bell says one of the most remarkable features of the course is the first tee. “It’s set on a 170-foot high cliff with the hole 460 yards down in the valley,” says Bell. “It offers a majestic view spanning the entire valley and offers an exciting way to begin play.”

Amenities available for golfers include the unique driving range spreading out into the valley hillside, practice putting greens, a hospitality cart, and a golfer’s comfort station. The course will feature an expansive clubhouse and restaurant to be completed in the fall of 2008.

Kane is excited at the prospects that the golf course holds for Cache Creek guests, and can’t wait for the public to come and experience Yocha-De-He for themselves. “I’m really happy with how it turned out. We’re going to show golfers that our course is the hidden gem in Northern California.”

Greens fees are $85 for 18 holes, a cart, and access to the driving range. Tee times are available Wednesday through Sunday, with times dependent on daylight hours and weather. Call (530) 796-4653 for more information.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yocha-De-He Golf Club has first public hole in one

It’s every golfer’s dream, forever eluding the majority of those who participate in the sport – a hole in one. But that elusive, seemingly unobtainable dream came true for golfer Jason Edwards on Jan. 18 at Cache Creek Casino Resort’s newly opened Yocha-De-He Golf Club.

“It was pretty amazing,” said Edwards, who is the surveillance manager for the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians Tribal Gaming Agency, which actually oversees gaming operations at Cache Creek. “I didn’t believe it was in at first,” he said. “It kind of went a little bit right, and I got a break on the green, and it went right on in.
There was definitely a ‘wow factor’ to it.”

Edwards’ footing didn’t quite feel right on hole number 15, so he took off his golf shoes and put on his sneakers before proceeding to hole 16, where he scored the ace. The ball he hit wasn’t particularly special, just one he had found on the course.
So, with the wrong shoes on and a found ball, he stepped up to the tee with his 7 iron, which he proceeded to hit around 170 yards and into the hole. “It took a couple of small hops right onto the green and went on in. I was stunned,” he says.
Luckily, there were three other golfers with him to record the occasion. “I’ve been playing for 21 years and have never witnessed a hole in one,” said Ray Patterson, who was part of Edwards’ foursome that afternoon.

“Ray actually somersaulted his way up to the green,” joked Edwards. “He was the first one to verify that the ball was actually in the cup.”
According to the United States Golf Association, the estimated odds of acing a hole with any given swing are one in 33,000. That puts Edwards in quite an elite club. In addition to that honor, he’s the first golfer to hit a hole in one on the course since it opened to the public on Jan. 2. Another golfer had the honor of recording Yocha-De-he’s very first hole-in-one during a round before the course officially opened in December on hole number seven.

Remarkably, this was the first time Edwards had ever played Yocha-De-He, and in addition to praising the quality of the experience and the layout of the holes, he had a message for course designer Brad Bell: “Let Brad know that I tamed his course.”

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cache Creek pastry chef builds holiday gingerbread castle

Two-hundred pounds of gingerbread. Four-hundred pounds of frosting. A toy Christmas village and train chugging around it 24 hours per day. These are all components of a mammoth gingerbread castle created by Cache Creek Casino Resort’s pastry chef, Alberto Ortiz.

“This is a thousand pound project, from the foot to the top,” says Ortiz, when summing up all the various parts – edible or not – which make up the giant cookie-based structure he painstakingly created over the course of a month with help from other kitchen staff members.

The finished piece stands at the entrance to Cache Creek’s Harvest Buffet restaurant, where visitors and gamblers can’t help but stop on their way past to marvel at the level of detail given to the confection creation. Gamblers, diners, and resort guests of all ages suddenly become kids again when they see this sugar-junkie’s dream palace.

In what has become a regular holiday tradition at Cache Creek, this is the fourth year that Ortiz has built a castle like this one for the resort. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I really enjoy every minute of building this.”

A lot of fun and a lot of work. At its base, Styrofoam pieces are dipped in frosting and then applied to the structure making up the “mountain” upon which the castle sits. The special frosting, which acts as cement for the structure, and also doubles as a blanket of snow, is called “royal icing.”

“It’s made out of powdered sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and lemon juice,” says Ortiz. You dip something in it, and in fifteen minutes, it becomes super-hard.” This substance is also piped into crevices to seal the structure and hold it together. “When you apply it, the next day, it’s like cement,” Ortiz says. It’s okay to eat, but better to look at, according to the chef.

All of the gingerbread walls of the structure are custom designed and cut by hand. Ortiz doesn’t use any template to build his masterpieces. “I should have been an architect,” he jokes. He’s done so many gingerbread buildings, it’s become second nature. “I have it in my head what I need to know – I don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Each year Ortiz picks a different theme. This year it is “silver and blue.” The details, such as the Christmas buildings, and Christmas train are from his own collection of Christmas decorations. He also incorporates scrap materials he can scrounge, such as the columns that make up the castle towers, which are actually cardboard rolls that carpet was once wrapped around.

Cache Creek isn’t the first place that Ortiz has plied his trade. He’s worked at places like the St. Francis and Fairmont Hotels in San Francisco, and Sun River Hotel in Oregon, building gingerbread buildings for them as well. “I’ve been doing this for years,” he says. “I’ve been in this business since 1968. Building the gingerbread castles is more like a fun thing for me. It takes me away from normal production, and lets my mind rest. I look forward to it every year.”

Sometimes working at odd hours of the night to finish his creation in time for the holiday season, Ortiz says the hard work was all worth it. “Their faces when they see this, that’s the reward I get.”