MURRIETA — Never mind that a couple weeks ago he was heckled by a fan during the first round of the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool, which was said to be over his decision to pull out of investing in British soccer team Leeds United. And never mind that he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit on July 2, ending a four-year winless drought.

Rickie Fowler knows the trials and tribulations of what the game of golf can bring, and despite finishing tied for 23rd at the British Open this past weekend, being back on top of his game, Fowler seemingly can’t stop winning, especially in life.

The Valley News first caught wind last year of a deal being made to purchase his childhood driving range in Murrieta, aptly named, the Murrieta Valley Golf Range, but without being in front of him, getting a hold of Rickie for a comment was next to impossible, and that’s OK, we know he’s a busy man. He did, however, recently talk with Golf Weekly, the magazine, and shared some of his thoughts on the recent purchase.

The Murrieta Valley Golf Range was recently purchased by Rickie Fowler, which is where he learned to play the game at an early age. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

The driving range in Murrieta is where Fowler, 34, first learned the game as a boy. His grandfather, Yutaka, spent every Wednesday with his first grandchild and would take him to the range, which opened in 1992. Fowler spent more and more of his formative years forging a passion for the game in those natural grass bays in the shadows of the Santa Ana Mountains, and 30 years later, he completed a boyhood dream of his, becoming owner of the range.

His father used to deliver the sand for maintenance and gravel for the parking lot in exchange for his son to hit balls on the range. Bill Teasdall, a former mini-tour player, found the land, leased the 15-acre property and opened the 50-stall range, where 90 balls still cost just $12, and included a teaching area for his best friend, Barry McDonnell. Yutaka first signed Rickie up with one of the range’s pros, Mark Quinlan. He taught Rickie for the next year or so before moving on, and that’s when he started learning under McDonnell’s watchful eye.

Fowler became a scratch golfer by age 12, but unfortunately McDonnell passed away in May of 2011, just a few months after Fowler was named Rookie of the Year. McDonnell was instrumental in Fowler’s career as he reached No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking in the winter of 2016. He would go on to win six times on the PGA Tour, including the 2015 Players Championship. Along the way, he also never forgot about where he came from or his dream to make sure Murrieta Valley Driving Range remained intact.

“I always wanted the range to be around and it to be open for the next generation,” Fowler told Golf Weekly. “I wanted kids to have the same opportunity as me if they were interested.”

Local golfers get their practice time in at the Murrieta Valley Golf Range, which was recently purchased by Rickie Fowler. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Talks started in 2019, but an eventual sale would be delayed by the global pandemic. Eventually, they came to an agreement in November of 2022 and the sale was finalized in January of this year.

“It has been in the works for a couple of years, as the land is owned by a family and Bill leased it from them,” Fowler explained. “We had to make sure that we would be able to continue that lease long enough and it wouldn’t get ripped out from under us.”

Fowler said he’s hired KemperSports, a golf hospitality management company, to help with “the week-to-week business stuff,” but he’s not looking to make household changes. In fact, Teasdall still is a regular presence there as is Lisa D’Hondt, who has worked the front counter for nearly 30 years.

“I wanted to keep the range how it has always been,” Fowler added. “A lot of the people that were there when I was growing up are still the ones running it day to day. We all share the same vision and I’m looking forward to, when this season settles down, being able to spend some more time with everyone involved to discuss our current and future plans for the enhancements at the range.”

Currently, the Murrieta Valley Golf Range, located at 24515 Washington Avenue in Murrieta, is an all-grass golf practice facility with a 15,000 square foot putting green, three chipping greens, and a 60,000 square feet of driving space and has programs and community events for juniors, adults, and families of all skill levels.

Rickie Fowler, pictured here at this year’s American Express tour, recently finalized a deal to purchase the Murrieta Valley Golf Range, where he learned to play the game as a kid. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Some fun facts you may not know. Fowler’s middle name, Yutaka, does actually come from his maternal grandfather, who is Japanese. His maternal grandmother is Navajo Native American. On the final day of a golf tournament Fowler wears orange in honor of Oklahoma State University, his alma mater.

Whether he keeps things the same, or makes some changes, there is no doubt that during his downtime, the chance of running into Rickie on his home turf isn’t that far fetched. If that happens, let our hometown boy get his work in before asking for that photo op. We all want Rickie to feel at home, on his range.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at