Diablo Grande is banking on 'mud' money

Course officials hoping to cash in with Tough Mudder

jburns@modbee.comSeptember 24, 2012 

— Paul Speltz hopes to turn mud into new money when the Tough Mudder obstacle course roars to life outside his gates.

Speltz is the head professional at Diablo Grande Golf and Country Club, but this weekend he'll turn opportunist as one of the world's most popular foot races lands in his backyard.

"The sheer number of people up here is going to be huge," said Speltz, who has worked in concert with Tough Mudder officials to stage the event on the 33,000-acre property, owned by World International.

"It's tough to say what we'll get back, but we'll take advantage of the people being up here."

And they should come in droves, toting their curiosity, appetites and pocketbooks.

Tough Mudder is a two-day event renown for challenging its athletes with an assortment of military-style obstacles (Electroshock Therapy, anyone?), rough terrain and endurance distances. Participants are released in waves, and will negotiate a 10- to 12-mile course that has been under construction for weeks now.

"It's been interesting to see," Speltz said of a course that has literally risen from the grass just beyond the Legends course; obstacles can be seen from holes 6, 7, 14, 15 and 18. "It's obviously a little extreme, but it's very popular. It's cool to have on the property, and it will create a lot of attention ... so it's a good thing."

The Tough Mudder arrives in the hills outside Patterson for the very first time, engaging a community rife with runners. As many as 15,000 people from all over Northern California will attend the first day of the Tough Mudder, Speltz said, and thousands more are expected on Sunday.

While they'll come looking for the mud and many obstacles, Speltz has a challenge all his own: Sell, sell, sell Diablo Grande.

The marketing strategy is relatively simple. Speltz and his staff will pass out brochures, keep the Sunset Lounge open, engage anyone that looks curious and wear inviting smiles.

"The biggest thing is that it's going to bring a significant number of people up to the property," Speltz said. "Any attention is good. We're certainly going to advertise and market to anyone who comes out, invite them to check out the property on another day."

Speltz believes an event of this size and scope will help the club reach new markets. Currently, Diablo Grande services mostly the valley, extending as far north as Sacramento. There isn't a big Bay Area presence, Speltz said.

"This will broaden our market," Speltz said. "We'll get to show all these people what we are and what we have out here."

Just don't come looking to play much golf this weekend.

The Ranch course will remain open, while Legends was closed on Monday for a three-week aerification.

On Saturday, the club is hosting a private tournament and will be closed to the public. On Sunday, the public is permitted to play the Ranch course only.

James Burns is the Regional Sports Content Editor of The Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star. He can be reached at jburns@modbee.com or (209) 578-2324.

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