7 sinful signing mistakes small business owners make

When we think of marketing programs our minds are quickly drawn to social, print and broadcast media. Although these programs can be quite glitzy and create media and consumer buzz they overshadow an extremely impactful marketing program not often considered by managers and owners. It is the signage used at the brick and mortar store itself.

Signs in windows, on doors, over display racks or by the register are interpreted by the shopper to determine the quality of the merchandise or the management of the store. Sometimes only subliminally but always effective in relaying a message.

Whether your store is in a mall, strip center or stand alone, the same psychology of engaging a customer applies. Yet many stores fail to consider the image their signage conveys to the consumer.

Here are the seven worst messages commonly conveyed:

“We sell crap”.
“I don’t do enough business to hire a second employee”.
“This is not a serious business”.
“We keep most our doors locked because we do not trust you ”.
“Go to the bath room elsewhere”.
“Details don’t matter to us”.
“You are not welcome here”.

This is excerpted from “Send customers a positive message”, part of the “How to” series at getmaximpact.com, a website based in Rochester Hills, Mich., dedicated to business and individual growth.

Federal Reserve officials comments raises more questions than answers

Charles Evans, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago made headlines on Tuesday when he spoke at an Economic luncheon in Detroit. Covering all the broad array of subjects from the housing recovery to the labor market, Evens first came out firing with information about short term interest rates.

“We started to taper our asset purchases, but we indicated that the fed funds rate would be near zero for quite some time — quite likely well into 2015. Barring any changes to our outlook, this would translate into seven years in which short-term interest rates would be at their zero lower bound. But policy likely will need to remain highly accommodative for such a time to ensure we make adequate progress toward maximum employment and price stability — the two congressionally mandated goals for U.S. monetary policy”

The asset purchases he is specifically referring to is QE3, the latest in a round of bond purchases by the Fed to stimulate growth in the economy. Whether it has helped or not remains to be seen, however last summer, Ben Bernanke who was the heading the Fed hinted at stopping the program. This immediately had had an adverse effect on the markets, as the Dow went from 15,000 mark down to the low 14,000’s. In an effort to do damage control, a couple of days later Bernanke made a statement using the now famous term ‘tapering’. This word seemed to have a pacifying effect on the stock market as it began to continue its climb up to over the 16,000 point mark.

However, as the forth quarter of 2013 came around, Bernanke felt that there was enough positive data in the economy to justify the early tapering phase. Ten billion a month would be taken off the initial per month policy of 85 Billion dollar bond purchases.

Unfortunately a consequence of this action is to see interest rates rise as a logical next step. This has caused fear in the markets, because since the 08’ crash, equities and foreign direct investment have been low risk/high reward avenues to make some money off the top. As a result of the tapering and implications of rising interest rates, investors have been pulling out of equities and emerging markets.

According to a Businessweek Report. Global investors pulled $6.3 billion from developing-nation stocks in the week through Jan. 29, the biggest outflow since August 2011, according to Barclays Plc, citing data from EPFR Global. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index declined 0.8 percent to 919.48 and has fallen 8.3 percent this year.

As a result, January has been anything but good, the Dow has seen around a 1,200 point drop, with fears of contagion rippling through the markets. So it stands to reason that based on past behavior the Fed would try to make a publicized statement in order to put investors at ease. Which is perfectly understandable, however it just raises some questions of the actual credibility of the statement itself. Some questions being.

What credibility does Mr. Evans have to his word now? Did anyone see a pinky swear? No, well then if the assumption is he is saying that just so the markets can hear it, then what are the negative repercussions if the Fed does in fact have to raise interest rates before 2016?

If this trying to deflect the eventual rise of interest rates, what is the importance of rising rates in relation to the stability in the markets? Would keeping them so low have an equally detrimental effect? And finally, Why wouldn’t the newly appointed Fed chairman Janet Yellen not use this opportunity to come out and make this statement? Wouldn’t such a statement in the face of crisis assert her new position as the head of the Federal Reserve.

35 years of experience offered to you free of charge

Part 1

Why I Wrote Win-Win

Having spent more than 35 years deep in the trenches of developing cross-sector partnerships and cause marketing campaigns with the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I have developed partnerships – from a local two-person art program, a three-county children’s magazine, regional and national campaigns for Fortune 500 corporations, to cause marketing for an international sports organization, and all sizes and variations in between. I have experienced people in all types of organizations working together. And through it, all I have developed a step-by-step, proven process to planning and implementing successful cross-sector partnerships.

Beginning with my first job at Cedar Point, the world’s largest pure amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, where I developed a relationship with the state-sponsored Ohio Travel Council, I discovered the many benefits of bringing different sectors together in a mutually rewarding relationship. A few years later, I was hired by Marriott Corporation as Public Affairs Manager and given the task (at age 25) to design the opening promotion of its largest project in history: the family entertainment center Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara, California. It was here where I conceived and directed my first comprehensive cross-sector partnership campaign, which I define as a partnership between two or more partners from the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors, with the March of Dimes. This campaign raised $2.5 million (and in 1976 that was a lot of money!), 40% more than ever been raised by the March of Dimes Chapters West.

Through the challenges, opportunities and understanding gained through this relationship, the main theme of my career was set: cross-sector partnerships provide more benefit to all the partners than each could have ever accomplished alone.

From those early experiences and beyond, in my work as Public Relations Director of the United States Olympic Committee, to the founding of The William Bentley Agency, an integrated public relations/marketing agency, to the honor of serving as director of marketing & communications for the American Red Cross (San Francisco) Bay Area chapter, to my current role as Founder/CEO of Bruce W. Burtch, Inc., a cross-sector partnership consulting and training firm, each role and relationship along this path have created a foundation of knowledge that I wanted to share.

I wrote this guidebook because I have seen thousands of organizations from all sectors struggling through the recent economic times. I have seen and still see a lot of pain and a need for help and real answers. Yet I know from experience that there is an extraordinary amount of opportunity lying in wait for the right combination of partners, on any issue, in any sector, in any small town or metropolitan city, in any corner of the world. Cross-sector partnerships can be extraordinarily successful when these partners join together for their individual and mutual success, while focusing on creating benefit for the greater good.

Win-Win for the Greater Good is a guidebook, not an overview, not a nice collection of stories. My goal is to take years of experience in developing partnerships between all sectors and provide you with the blueprint, the materials and the tools that will guide you in developing highly successful, highly profitable cross-sector partnerships. Here you will find information from the very basic to more challenging concepts. Each reader comes to this guidebook with different experiences and different levels of expertise.

In 1978, I was asked by the president of a large foundation what I wanted to do with my life, and almost without thinking I said, “I want to do well by doing good”. He leaned back in his chair, laughed heartedly and replied, “I’ve never seen anybody do that before.” That very phrase to “do well by doing good” has been my personal mantra and foundation of my work from that minute forward. From the bottom of my heart I believe that doing good is the necessary prerequisite for doing well. Doing good benefits everything you do and everything you are. Doing good and doing well can best be accomplished through win-win partnerships.

The 7 benefits of video blogging

A Video Blog, also known as a “vlog” is a clever way to increase brand awareness, gain a greater following and most importantly, generate additional business. If vlogging is not yet a part of your digital marketing strategy, it’s time to jump on the video blogging wagon.

The 7 benefits of Video Blogging:

1. Good for your SEO strategy.

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. That means potential customers are more likely to search for a service, product or information on YouTube, than they are on Yahoo or Bing. See more from this awesome infographic. When you post a video, and somebody is searching for that subject, it will likely show up in a search engine if you have optimized it correctly. SEO quick tip: You can embed your video on your website and transcribe it increasing your chances to include the important keywords mentioned in the video.

2. Develops trust.

When a follower watches you in a video, he begins to feel like he knows you, delivering a sense of trust. People by nature are more inclined to use a company for business when they are able to put a face to a name. Even more so, if they already know how you talk and have seen you “in action”.

3. 2 minutes provides concise, quick information.

As a general rule, savvy marketers know to keep videos under the 2 minute mark, as to not lose the attention of the viewer. People are more likely to click on a video blog over a written one because it requires less effort to watch than it does to read, while still delivering the same results.

4. People are visual.

People prefer to see something visually over reading content (which forces them to use their imagination). By providing the visual stimulation, you require viewers to do one less thing.

5. Videos generate more shares than any other type of posts.

If you want something to go viral, a video blog is the key. Currently, the most shared and “liked” content on Facebook is videos followed by pictures followed by articles.

6. Excellent for How-Tos or tutorials.

Again, since people learn best visually, videos are a great platform to teach your customers something new. Video how-to’s give your viewers the chance to see exactly how something is done and to pause or rewind when needed.

7. Generate income from your videos on YouTube.

YouTube allows you to monetize your videos by permitting YouTube to place ads in the video. Ads are always content appropriate and if you generate high viewership, you can make anywhere from $0.01 to $2.00 per 1000 hits from YouTube!

Bill Gates Quotes – The Best Quotes for Life and Business

Bill Gates is one of the most well known and sought after entrepreneurs in the world. He’s been at the top of the Forbes’ Richest People in the World list for many decades now. As such a high profile individual, entrepreneurs and now philanthropist, it’s no wonder why so many people are searching for “Bill Gates Quotes” on the internet.

Seeking out quotes from your favorite celebrities, athletes and individuals around the world is a great way to get inspired and put you back on the right path in whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

I’ve written a 1,200 word post on my favorite Bill Gates quotes and what they’ve meant personally for myself and my business. Now it’s time for you to look through some of Bill’s greatest quotes below and see which of them are your favorites and apply to your currently lifestyle and business.

15 BILL GATES QUOTES TO GET YOU MOTIVATED

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
– Bill Gates

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
– Bill Gates

“If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”
– Bill Gates

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”
– Bill Gates

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”
– Bill Gates

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
– Bill Gates

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”
– Bill Gates

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
– Bill Gates

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
– Bill Gates

“I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.”
– Bill Gates

“Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”
– Bill Gates

“If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 MPG.”
– Bill Gates

“At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top – I’m afraid that’s not quite right.”
– Bill Gates

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.”
– Bill Gates

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
– Bill Gates

In Order to Buy Instagram Likes Is the Answer of the Problem of Significantly Less Likes of Your Accounts

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Three Ways Blow Up Displays Are Changing Trade Show Dynamics

It seems like every year there is a new entry on the trade show floor that’s trying to be everything to everybody or at least trying to make a splash that will be memorable. The problem is that, in most cases, there is a trade-off. For great looks you have to sacrifice easy installation. Or if you want easy installation and shipping, you have to sacrifice content or impact. But this year, there’s a new entry in the event arena that will be making headlines: inflatable displays.
“Blow Up” In The Best Sense
Some people hear “blow up” and immediately think of incendiary devices. Others recall the trendy but somewhat silly air dancers that you often see flapping around in front of the grand opening of a local auto dealership or consignment store. Fortunately, one of the leading suppliers in the industry has moved beyond the gimmicks and now offers inflatable booths that look professional, are durable, and will eloquently convey your message. How do they manage to pull all of this off? By sticking to three basic principles:
Reduced Need For I & D
Anyone who has worked the conference or convention floor knows that there is nearly always a need for I & D, or Installation and Dismantle. This is the bug-a-boo that most companies face at some point because they simply don’t have the manpower or time to train their people in how to efficiently install and dismantle their trade show displays. While their staff may be well-versed in how to generate leads, they are often stumped by the need to assemble a complex exhibit using a variety of tools. With inflatable displays, however, it can be as simple as attaching an air pump to the air bladders that hold the elements together and letting the exhibit assemble itself. In just a few minutes, the entire exhibit is up and ready to go without having to pay for a professional I&D team that would have charged an arm and a leg for putting together your exhibit. The result? Money you can spend elsewhere to advertise or generate leads. You’ll also end up with fewer unexpected “snafus” that could cost you a significant amount of money to correct.
Leveling The Playing Field
Most small- and medium-sized businesses feel that they have a distinct disadvantage at trade shows and industry events because they simply don’t have the same generous marketing budget that Fortune 500 companies have. The good news is that by using blow-up displays, smaller companies can dramatically reduce the costs associated with displaying at venues of all sizes. Rather than worrying about the cost of drayage or trying to compare the shipping costs from one event to another, these smaller companies can simply deflate, pack and take their blow up displays with them. While others are waiting for delivery of their various exhibit elements, today’s savvy companies can quickly inflate lightweight, inflatable elements they brought with them as carry-on luggage. It levels the playing field by giving smaller companies the opportunity to compete with the big guys without having spent money like them.
Easy Cleaning Of Blow Up Displays
Trade shows and conferences may seem like well-oiled machines to the outsider, but the reality is that, at some point, you’re likely to experience a problem with your display. It may have gotten dirty in transit or it may simply look dingy after countless days on display. Fortunately, today’s blow up displays are easy to clean because they are constructed of lightweight, durable materials that are easy to clean. All you need is a gentle spot-cleaning solution or access to a reliable dry cleaner for smaller smudges or spills. If you need to wash the entire display, the cloth graphics can be easily removed and sent to a dry cleaner or tossed in a commercial grade washing machine. What could be simpler or more efficient? Today’s dirty exhibit can be tomorrow’s vibrant, graphic display and trade show exhibit for the cost of a wash cycle!
The blow up displays that will soon be popping up around the country on trade show floors and at industry events offer that ideal of versatility and easy care that has been the holy grail of companies and event planners for decades. And now you have access to it all, so step up and try it out. Like your customers, you’ll be amazed in all of the best possible ways!

A Technological Synergy: Working Together for a Better Society

I’ve often heard people laugh about the American space agency, NASA, and its million-dollar development of a pen that could write in zero-gravity. “The Russians used a pencil,” they would say, blissfully unaware of the fact that the microscopic graphite particles which a pencil leaves floating in a zero-gravity environment were clogging the CO2 scrubbers used on board both countries’ spacecraft… not to mention that, in the pure oxygen environment of NASA’s early days, their tendency to contribute to stray, microscopic sparks made them an enormous fire hazard.

The point of this story? It actually has nothing to do with the viability of the pen itself.

The technology which went into that million-dollar pen—which was, incidentally, personally funded by the researcher who designed it—has since contributed to lifesaving technology in the medical field. It has a presence, today, in some of the models of pumps used in surgery, and in the design of intravenous systems. Unexpected marriages of technological innovation fill the annals of modern society’s accomplishments, improving lives and bettering the world we live in. In no area is this more exemplified than in the business world, where advancing virtual technologies are helping traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses to thrive.

3D Printing: Now You See It… Really

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, reverses the typical subtractive manufacturing processes, which work mostly by methods such as cutting or drilling: they remove material from an object to shape it (or a component part). 3D printing works by laying down successive layers of material (hence “additive”) under the control of a computer, producing finished objects which were pre-designed digitally. 3D printing has been making headlines in recent years as a revolutionary means of manufacturing everything from jewelry, to clothing, to pre-fabricated buildings; even the culinary arts have seen the advent of 3D printing, with edible materials allowing for a never-before-seen range of edible creations. What isn’t so widely known is that the first 3D printer was actually made as far back as 1984, by 3D Systems Corp, a company dedicated to innovative three-dimensional production methods. 3D printing has been used for years as a quick and convenient means of producing prototypes in nearly every field of manufacture or design, and with the reduction in price of 3D printers since the turn of the decade, the technology is only going to continue improving the efficiency of traditional business models.

Genetically Modified Crops (and the People Who Eat Them)

Several large corporations, with Monsanto being the most infamous, have been actively introducing genetically modified crops for years, applying new discoveries from modern genetics research to the age-old problem of food production. Many parts of the world still don’t have enough food to go around, or else they lack the infrastructure to distribute it while it is fresh. As far back as 1992, a type of corn was developed, which was genetically altered to be more resistant to certain types of pests common in European farmlands. Monsanto has since created a soy plant which is immune to the effects of a major ingredient in such herbicides as Roundup, which kills nearly every form of vegetation to which it is applied.

Genetically modified foodstuffs have endured a prolonged period of distrust from the public, but this is generally without any serious scientific basis; people are simply concerned about that which sounds entirely too new and unfamiliar, and even the study of genetics itself is still a murky and mysterious thing to most. The fact is, however, that we’ve been directing the evolution of plants and animals for thousands of years; its original, natural form is barely larger than a stalk of grass, and entirely incapable of nourishing today’s growing population if farmed as it would still appear (were it not for our interference). The advancing human understanding of genetics allows us to producer larger, more fruitful crops, which are resistant to the effects and the absorption of pesticides—or, quite simply, resistant to the pests which used to make such chemicals a necessity.

There is, to date, no accredited, reproducible study which demonstrates that there is any inherent harm in the simple notion of genetically modifying foods, and such items offer a promising future in the continuing effort to provide plentiful and affordable provisions for our planet’s growing population.

Thinking Machines

When we discuss AI (artificial intelligence) the first thing that pops into most people’s minds is a scene from Terminator. Steel skeleton robots standing atop the bones of humans as they destroy civilization and look to enslave mankind. In a recent article on Yahoo, a colleague of mine was lambasted for his take on innovation. Most of the commenters described doomsday scenarios if innovation continued to develop AI. In my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth. AI isn’t truly a self-aware creation. It is simply a series of rules and laws put into a system that are so advanced that they give the appearance of intelligence. While there are sometimes “ghosts in the machine”, or unintended interactions with those rules and laws that are programed into the software, those are not true flashes of intelligence, but rather very peculiar interactions of rules that give unintended results.

With the advancements in software and computing, we are seeing “thinking” machines becoming more and more common. But, again, these aren’t self-aware pieces of metal. They are incredibly well programmed pieces of software. How are these pieces of software achieving such unprecedented levels of sophistication? The answer is two-fold; workflow software and rules engines are driving the thinking of the machines while processing power is making the machine fast enough to enable it to think incredibly fast. The speed of processing makes the machine appear to think as a human does; giving answers almost as soon as they’re asked.

To enable machines to continue “talking to each other” and “thinking for themselves”, a new age of software will need to be introduced. Companies like Decisions are leading the way with their workflow and business rules engines that allow software to speak to each other and have almost AI levels of intelligence.

As these thinking machines continue to advance, they will discover connections and synergies between technologies that we, as humans, have missed. Giving us insights into advancements in medicine, technology, food production and more. The benefits that this will provide to society will be striking.

Human Ingenuity

The pace at which modern technology is advancing is oftentimes alarming to many people, myself included. However, I believe that the motives and the methods behind our progress remain pure, having avoided the warnings of classic science fiction and horror media—which long since warned us of the dangers of meddling with the laws of nature. When handled responsibility, our scientific curiosity and our tendency to creatively apply what we know can be seen as one of our greatest embraces of symbiosis in itself. It compels us to advance, to explore, and to refine, in a way that cannot help but work toward the betterment of the modern world as a whole.

Why no Superbowl fast food ads?

Someone broached the question to me during the game, in almost a disappointed tone. Fast food is supposed to be as integral as puppies, talking babies, celebrity endorsements, etc. to Superbowl marketing. So why didn’t we see any? A legitimate question, though not quite fair to Subway. Subway bought in last minute to promote their chicken enchilada sub, as a number of other companies were pulling out their bids. It wasn’t a spectacular commercial, but it was there, and personally made me want to check out the new sandwich.

Yet compare that lackluster effort to how many car and beer commercials appeared? That’s not quite a fair comparison. Cars and beer have a healthy, historic marriage with football commercial time. Possible suggestions arise: that the fast food chains are already well known staples, so have no need to raise awareness, or that their profit margins run too slim to throw money into advertising. Both of these won’t satisfy, however, because then companies like Coca Cola and Budweiser would have no reason to appear.

No easy answers here. No matter how you look at it, Superbowl advertising is a gamble, like high risk stocks. The upside could be tremendous, alternatively, you could just be out a lot of money. In the worst imaginable scenario, the company’s commercial is received neither positively or negatively, and thus generates no response, no buzz, no controversy, and like Subway’s pitch this year, is virtually forgotten. At around $4 million for 30 seconds, that’s a tough financial pill to swallow.

Alister Mackenzie’s Glorious Old Beauty, Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, CA

In the sweet seaside community of Pacifica about 15 minutes from San Francisco, Sharp Park Golf Course is a classic track that Alister MacKenzie designed during the same era as he created his more world-famous courses in Northern California–Cypress Point, the Claremont Country Club, Pasatiempo and others. Sharp Park was also landscaped by another icon, John McLaren, who created Golden Gate Park. Supervising the planting of literally millions of trees in San Francisco and environs in his heyday of the late 1800s, McLaren also facilitated the planting of 100,000 trees in and around Sharp Park; today, as lush and as darkly romantic as ever, battalions of mature Monterey cypress and pines line the fairways, making this one of California’s most beautiful muni courses.

The easily walkable 6,299-yard course has the same Pacific Ocean views as when it opened in 1931. Generously wide fairways are watered by the Laguna Salada, a marshy lake inhabited by gangs of birds and waterfowl. Greens are in pretty darned good shape for a muni, with just a few that have some fungus around the edges. Plenty of moisture in the sea air translates into a lush world of emerald green.

MacKenzie’s only public seaside links, Sharp Park is beloved by Bay Area locals who enjoy the low weekday greens fees and the top-notch food in the cozy bar and casual clubhouse restaurant–– fresh local seafood is always on the menu. Decorated with vivid Depression-era paintings and beamed ceilings, the Spanish hacienda-style clubhouse was a WPA construction project. Adding to the vintage feel are the funky power carts without windshields, and an old-fashioned starter’s booth and tiny pro shop.

Golfers’ Weekend Getaway, Pacifica

After their rounds, golfers and weekenders head into the little town of Pacifica for good food and fun. My fav new place is Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar, a popular, rambling, ocean view bar and restaurant serving great food and creative cocktails (the restaurant is adjacent to Pacifica Beach Hotel, one of the best hostelries in town, across from a nice beach and the waterfront walking path).

At the foot of town at Rockaway Beach, Dungeness crab and a dance floor have been big attractions at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant for 90 years; also here, the Sea Breeze Motel is an affordable place to stay.
A few steps away are the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel
and the Pacifica Motor Inn.

A Grape in the Fog is a café and late-night gathering spot for wine, small plates and live music, while Lovey’s Tea Shoppe attracts lovers of the traditional English tea ritual, complete with tier upon tier of fabulous homemade treats and a wide variety of fresh, gourmet teas.

Eco vs. Muni

Sharp Park Golf Course has been the focus of a several-years-long political and legal tug-of-war between those who wish to retain the course for public recreation and for its historical value, and environmental groups who would do away with the golf course in order to establish a wildlife sanctuary (which, in fact, already exists here). Although an extensive renovation/restoration endeavor is in the works, the fate of Sharp Park continues to be uncertain.