Don’t Believe Everything You Read in the RSF Post

I have lived in the Covenant for 15 years and I am currently the President of the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. As most of us realize and appreciate, having a high-end private golf club in our town provides an incredible boost to home values. Additionally, every home owner in the Covenant is entitled to join the Golf Club if they choose to do so. The golf course and Golf Club are not only incredibly beautiful and serve as a social hub for our community, they also provide a substantial amount of the prestige and mystique that Rancho Santa Fe’s reputation is based on. Despite these benefits, as you may be aware, there is a small but highly vocal contingent of Association members who seem to make criticizing or opposing the Golf Club a favorite hobby.

Everyone is entitled to express their opinion and I don’t begrudge anyone from doing that but where we should draw the line as a community is when people disseminate false information to advance their own agenda. I have seen several egregious examples of this happening during my time as President. Most recently, I observed it in an article on RSF Post by Lorraine Kent dated April 1, 2024. Ms. Kent, a sitting Association Board member, wrote an article entitled “What is Osuna Ranch’s Value? Priceless.” The thrust of Ms. Kent’s article was that Osuna Ranch should not be sold. Apparently, the Association Board will soon be considering this issue which of course begs the question as to whether it is appropriate for a sitting Association Board member to be front-running this issue through public advocacy before the Association Board has deliberated on the issue.

Setting that aside, I was very disturbed to read certain blatantly false statements in Ms. Kent’s article. She hypothesized that some community members may want to sell Osuna Ranch to “Fund the additional monies the Golf Club needs to finish paying for the course renovation?” This statement is entirely false as the Golf Club has already paid for the course renovation and every cent was paid by Golf Club members. Not a single Association dollar was used. When I read Ms. Kent’s article on April 3, 2024, I immediately wrote to her and demanded a retraction because her statement was entirely false and it put the Golf Club in a bad light. Ms. Kent responded that she did not write the false sentence and she stated that she authorized Rachel Laffer, Editor of the RSF Post, to edit her article. I then sent several e-mails to Ms. Laffer asking point-blank if she added the false text to Ms. Kent’s article. After ignoring my initial messages, Ms. Laffer responded as follows:

Greetings Todd,

Please direct all future correspondence to Michael J. Aguirre, Esq.
Please have no further communication with me regarding this matter, as Mr. Aguirre is representing me.
Mr. Aguirre’s email address is [omitted]. His personal cell phone number is: [omitted].


cc: Michael Aguirre, Esq.

We can all draw our own conclusions regarding Ms. Laffer’s response.

On a similar note, on March 7, 2024, the RSF Post also published a “recap” of the Association Board meeting and the recap stated as follows:

The Golf Club restaurant also referred to as the “Ranch Clubhouse” is being renovated at the direction of the Golf Club Board of Governors and Association staff. Ocio Design Group’s original designs were a sharp contract to the Ranch’s historic Latin Roots, and drew much criticism with many in the community.

This is also entirely false. The Golf Club Board of Governors has not requested that the restaurant be renovated nor is it in any way directing the project. This is an Association initiative and project. While the false statements referenced above have now been deleted from RSF Post, we have no way of knowing how many people read the false statements before they were removed. These false statements are harmful and wrong.

Last year we dealt with a blatantly false rumor that “hazardous waste” may have been buried in a bury pit during the renovation of the golf course. There was no basis for this allegation whatsoever and expensive geological testing confirmed that it was entirely untrue. Unfortunately, this caused a time delay in the renovation of the practice areas that caused us to lose favorable pricing with a contractor resulting in added expense to the Golf Club approaching $1,000,000.

While I hope it goes without saying but one can never be sure, this article is not about whether Osuna should be sold and neither I nor the Golf Club have promoted that idea in any way whatsoever.

The bottom line is that many false statements are made about the Golf Club in an effort to shape public opinion in our community. Don’t believe everything you read, even when it comes from a website that states that its purpose is to “foster community engagement through the reporting of news and information that matter to the residents of Rancho Santa Fe.”

Todd Neal is President of the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club