As discreet as this community of 290 residences is, words travel. The club was honored as a Platinum Club of America in 2017. (Only 3 of the 50 recognized clubs are in Southern California.) The past few years have marked its fastest growing seasons. And several months ago, Tradition’s 18th hole graced the fall 2021 cover of The Golfer’s Journal, a nifty quarterly on par with a popular coffee table book.
The winning image – a photo of the sunrise from the 18th green in first light – was captured by Armand “AJ” Barragan, a member in his 30s and professional photographer. The timing of the show coincided with another cause for celebration: he and his wife, Sarah Rose, welcomed their first baby, Justus, who became Tradition’s youngest member.
“The class is so incredibly beautiful that it inspired my interest in photography,” says the new dad. “Now, it’s a full-fledged business and Tradition remains our best backdrop. Barragan and a golf friend founded their Instagram team, @couldbetheday, in 2018. Major manufacturers in the industry including Cleveland Golf, Puma and Srixson have ordered their golf and golf lifestyle snaps. Now they travel across North America, shooting as they play.
Barragan is also the COO of Jay’s Catering, established as an Orange County icon by his grandfather over 50 years ago. (The same one who took him to the wilderness when he was young, creating precious memories he wanted to give to his own child.) Sarah Rose runs several event venues, resplendent in period buildings as the company has restored.
“We looked at all the usual suspects, but fell in love with the quaintness and the historical aspect of Tradition,” he says. “It feels like it’s been here even longer than it has been, and the new refurbishment has improved that feeling perfectly. “
The couple has been a junior member of this “magical place” since 2017, proving that at the heart of it all, club life is accessible, and even a necessary stress reliever at work. Barragan says they fit in perfectly, escaping behind doors every weekend and vacation they can. “As soon as you get there, it feels like you’re on vacation,” he says. “And it doesn’t hurt that I’m obsessed with golf!” “
For this family, the game will be a love for life. “Sarah Rose only plays golf in Tradition, where she takes lessons,” adds Barragan. “She won’t take lessons from me or anyone in Orange County.” Barragan also sees the game in his young son’s future, as soon as he can swing a club.
“My favorite hole is the 12”, he shares fairways named “the most beautiful course in Palm Springs” by Golf magazine. “When you play in the afternoon, the bunker looks like a postcard. Thanks to our photography business, I have played almost all of the local courses now. And, yes, I am biased. But this is the best course in the desert.