Special Connection

Saluting 40 years at Monarch Beach Golf Links

By Judd Spicer

Celebrating 40 years of rounds, respite, and oceanside reprieve at Dana Point’s Monarch Beach Golf Links is to honor an oceanfront landscape rooted in prime turf and premier people. For as much as the Troon-managed, Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course may highlight the Southern California resort experience, it’s the veteran, diverse, and driven staff at Monarch which truly narrates the property’s history, and its future.

“What’s special about Monarch is that it truly captures the essence of coastal Orange County: A love of being outside, athletic, and sporty, but also laid-back,” said PGA Director of Player Development and Marketing Jackie Riegle. “It’s such a perfect balance for the guest who likes the finer things in life, but also might hit some shots while barefoot and wants music playing during a round.”

Riegle’s ties to the turf further echo the staff’s personal connection to the land and layout. “Monarch was my home course in high school at Dana Hills,” reflected Riegle, whose grandfather was a developer who built many of the homes overlooking the harbor in Dana Point. “I have a photo in my office of our CIF title championship when we won the title in my sophomore year, with our team sitting in the third fairway. This is where I fell in love with the game, and now I get to coach on these same fairways.”

Working at Monarch for nearly a decade now, the property and fairways parallel Riegle’s own story. “Since I started here in 2014, I got engaged, got married, and have had two kids,” she smiles.

For Monarch’s 40th anniversary year — which included a full calendar of golf clinics, guest activations, giveaways, special sales, charity events, and a champagne toast — Riegle added a creative touch.

“It was fun being able to contribute to our history with the design; it’s something that was very special to me,” she said of a special flag, apparel, and accessories with the 40th anniversary logo, which she created. “The design is three waves around the logo, to showcase our proximity to Dana Point, Salt Creek, and Monarch Beach. And then there’s the ‘1983-2023’ and the logo in the barrel of the waves.”


Under the longtime direction of PGA General Manager and current President of the Southern California Section of the PGA of America, Eric Lohman, the veteran staff proves as unique as the course’s bearing among a mere handful of golf properties situated on the California coastline.

To wit: Saul Beragan has been on Monarch’s golf course maintenance staff for over 33 years. Described as the “glue that holds everything together,” Beragan has an adhesive passion for the property.

“It’s a long time working here, and I love this place, I love this job,” Beragan said. “I enjoy playing here, and I still enjoy working in the field. Sure, over the years, I’ve done a lot of things to maintain this course. And I feel so good about this place now; having seen what the course looked like when I first started … back in 1990, well, it didn’t quite look like how it does today.”

Across his three decades at Monarch, Beragan believes that, over time (and a 2015 course renovation considered), the grounds have enjoyed ongoing improvement. 

“It’s a very good place, and I think that every year it looks better,” he said. “And, of course, the setting beside the ocean is so very nice with that fresh air. All the guys here enjoy working together; we’ve got a good crew of guys, good people.”

Monarch’s team proves eclectic as it is experienced.

Another integral member of the eclectic team at Monarch Beach, PGA Director of Sales Lyon Lazare’s resume includes experience as an accomplished concert pianist and composer, working as a model, and recently earning his PGA membership.

“I feel like everybody here brings something unique to the table. Many of our staff members are very well-traveled,” Lazare said of his Monarch colleagues. “They’ve worked in different clubs, different states, resorts, and private properties. And, together, we’re able to bring forward all these experience for our members, our resort guests, and our daily play golfers.”

As for bringing to the table his own unique balance of clubs and keys, the Orange County native demurred: “I call that my ‘past life,’” Lazare said. “But, yes, I was a concert pianist, and did a lot of traveling and had the pleasure of playing in places like the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, The Ford amphitheater in Hollywood, and once went on a two-week tour in China.”

Lazare’s time in front of the camera often involves a familiar backdrop.

“In my free time, I’ve done some shoots here and there, done some traveling for it and have also done several shoots right here at Monarch,” he added of his modeling work. “For one of those, I doubled for Dustin Johnson when he was out here at Monarch to shoot an RBC commercial.”

With golf course as centerpiece, the Monarch team is missioned to create and maintain a specific and special vibe for guests.

“The golf course itself and our beautiful views are, of course, a big part of our success. But, beyond that, it really is the staff,” explained Lazare. “When guests arrive here, they get a genuinely warm welcome. And we’ve maintained that ‘surf vibe.’ We’re laid-back, we like to have fun here, we don’t want any kind of stuffy feel.”

“We haven’t ever been, nor will we ever really become a ‘white glove’ property,’” Riegle added, “but we treat our guests with five-star service while mixing in that true SoCal essence — good vibes, genuine proactive service, and making people here feel truly valued. And I think we knock that out of the park.”

For many of the Monarch staff members, celebrating 40 years of history on the grounds isn’t merely acknowledging their home course — it’s honoring a connection to a land and community that is their home.

“This is a special place and I love this golf course,” Riegle concluded. “I love to hear the waves crashing when I park my car. There’s music playing; there’s a vibe; there are a lot of veteran staff members, and everybody knows and likes each other. I joke around that, someday they’ll have to push me out of here, because I’m never going to leave Monarch Beach.”


Monarch Beach Golf Links

at Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club

Dana Point, Calif.