Pickleball fever meets high-end style at California’s Carmel Valley Ranch

Pickleball is the sport of the year, LeBron James’ latest pet project, and the healthiest way to get rid of those post-pandemic cobwebs no matter what your age. Most picklerballers play in public parks or on their driveways, but one California resort is giving pickleball the luxury treatment.

Carmel Valley Ranch, already a top 50 tennis destination, recently unveiled a comprehensive pickleball program with pickleball pros, pickleball workshops and dedicated pickleball courts. The picklepalooza is part of ongoing upgrades to the 500-acre property located at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Monterey Peninsula.

Played with perforated polymer balls and rectangular paddles on a court about 1/4 the size of a regulation tennis court, pickleball is simple to learn, gentle on the joints and easy on the ego too. I like to say it’s like playing “ping pong on the court”. If you can swing a paddle – dink! – you are a pickleball player.

But Carmel Valley Ranch knows there are levels to conquer. With four new pickleball courts and a full slate of pickleball programs, the resort helps pickleball players at all levels hone their skills, from serve and net play to advanced spins and slams. Among the offerings: Dinking Divas, a pickleball drill clinic with warm-ups and a focus on fundamentals before playing live with mixed groups. The Ranch also has bi-monthly mixers, primarily for locals but open to all, which bring doubles players together to mingle and befriend other pickleball obsessives. Players are matched by skill level.

Head Tennis Instructors Chris Myrold ​​and Ben Gottenberg, in partnership with Peter Burwash International (PBI), bring the same high quality instruction to pickleball as they do to teaching tennis. Carmel Valley Ranch guests can book one-hour private lessons, at $40 an hour, or play in groups.

In June 2019, Carmel Valley Ranch unveiled a property-wide refresh that included a new market and creamery, new culinary spaces; redesigned suites equipped with smart-room technology; updated meeting and event spaces; and a redesign of the golf clubhouse on the Pete Dye-designed 18-hole bentgrass course. The Ranch has also expanded its experiential programming which now includes courses in cheese making, falconry, salt mixing, beekeeping and animal husbandry.

But pickleball is the buzz right now. The activity continues to be the fastest growing sport in the United States, reaching 4.8 million players in the United States in 2021, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2022 report on Pickleball. USA Pickleball is growing 14.8% from 2020 to 2021, after growing 21.3% in 2019, with an average annual growth rate of 11.5% over the past 5 years. Although often considered a retirement sport, the average age of all players continues to decline, to 38.1 years in 2021, a decrease of 2.9 years compared to 2020 Growth in total number of participants from 2020 to 2021 was fastest among players under 24, according to USA Pickleball.

Carmel Valley Ranch is located on the “sunny side” of the Monterey Peninsula amid scenic foothills, lavender fields, vineyards and century-old oak trees. The resort offers 181 suites in a beautiful oasis shared with mule deer, horned owls, red-headed vultures and majestic hawks. Honestly, California doesn’t get much prettier than this.


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