Eric Lohman, PGA general manager of Monarch Beach Golf Links, shares his favorite places to dine, shop and relax in Newport.
By Sharon Stello
Eric Lohman has made his home in Newport Beach for 13 years and wouldn’t have it any other way. Lohman, who serves as PGA general manager of Monarch Beach Golf Links a few miles south of Newport, is quick to list the many benefits of living in this scenic coastal community.
“What’s not to like about Newport? It’s beautiful, safe [and has] cool ocean breezes, wonderful neighborhoods and great schools—no better place to raise a family,” says Lohman, who lives in the Dover Shores neighborhood with his wife, Lauren, and two daughters, Harper, 10, and Sutton, 7. Lohman can often be found attending his daughters’ games and practices—sometimes as a coach—for their teams in sports ranging from swimming to soccer, softball and basketball.
In addition to his passion for sports, Lohman is also a founding board member of the Southern California chapter of Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that grants educational scholarships for the children and spouses of military service members who have been injured or killed in training or combat. Lohman, whose dad is a retired Navy captain who served two tours in Vietnam, says this is one way “to give back to those who keep us so safe and protect our values.”
Lauren, who works as a producer for films, TV shows and plays, grew up on the peninsula and graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1994, and she wanted to continue residing in her hometown. “She gave me one choice where we could live,” Lohman says. “Thankfully, she was from Newport and not somewhere else. Nothing beats Newport.”
Lohman, on the other hand, was born in Indiana and grew up in a few different places as his family moved around, but he attended Palm Springs High School where he became an accomplished golfer. After graduating in 1992, he went on to win the 1993 Washington State Golf Association’s Men’s Amateur Championship. He continued playing golf in college, first at University of Houston and then at University of California, Los Angeles. He still plays when he can, participates in Southern California PGA events and even qualified for the PGA National Club Professional Championship in 2014 and 2015.
Lohman likes many things about the sport and says each time out on the green can be a different experience. “I enjoy the scenery, the course layout, the mindfulness of being in the moment and executing that perfect shot, camaraderie of my playing partners, being competitive and, always, the hospitality,” he says.
He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years, including the last five at Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point, which he says is “a special place for a few reasons: Our team members genuinely care about our guests and their experience, the playing conditions are some of the best in Orange County and the course design is playable, yet memorable with our ocean views and Robert Trent Jones Jr. signature design.”
While his duties run the gamut from overseeing the budget to staff training and golf instruction, these activities all help him achieve one overarching mission. “I am responsible for many things, but, most importantly, making sure our guests have a great golfing, dining or shopping experience,” he says, noting the nearby golf store and cafe.
Lohman starts and ends every day by walking the grounds to experience it from the guest’s point of view. The job keeps him busy, so he doesn’t get to play much golf on workdays. However, he has come across many interesting things out on the greens from a rattlesnake to a bobcat, a celebrity professional athlete and wildfires that came right up to the edge of the course.
“We have had numerous wedding proposals as well as the scattering of a loved one’s ashes,” he says. “… There have been more than a few temper tantrums and I recall one player throwing his entire set of clubs into a lake and then walking away.” Lohman has also witnessed a few strange accidents with golf carts being “driven into lakes, walls, trees, over irrigation control boxes and, my least favorite, into each other like bumper cars,” he adds.
For local golfers, Lohman shares a tip: The 9Fore9 (949) deal at Monarch Beach Golf Links allows OC residents to play a round of nine holes off the back nine early in the morning or the front nine during the late afternoon for $49, compared to the usual $59, plus other $9 deals such as merchandise from the golf store and meals at Monarch Cafe. And, for those spending time in Newport, he has a few recommendations for places to visit, which he shares below.
Roundup of favorite places:
“My in-laws live on the peninsula and, when we visit them, we head out to L Street Beach and hang out—it’s less crowded. And, when the waves are up, we go to the Wedge to check out all of the action.”
“Our family has to get a marble cake from SusieCakes for every birthday and they are to die for. The carrot cake and whoopie pies are my favorites all other days.”
Dinner and a View
“I had never been to a Nobu before ours opened up, but I can see why they are so popular. The space and views overlooking the bay are beautiful and the food is even better. I could eat there everyday.”
For shopping, Lohman heads to the TravisMathew store at Fashion Island. “Love me some TravisMathew. Their clothes bridge the gap between my golf world and my social world. Casual, cool and it definitely has some of that OC vibe.”
“I enjoy jumping on my bike, putting in my earbuds and riding around the Back Bay. For me, it is a nice way to get some exercise, enjoy the scenery and unplug.”