Camarillo Springs Golf Course near Los Angeles: Cool rounds even when summer sizzles
CAMARILLO, Calif. -- One of the more compelling visuals for golfers is the lush, cultivated grass sitting next to the raw outlying areas. Perhaps the juxtaposition speaks to our desire to control the land. In southern California, which consists of chaparral and sage-covered rocky hillsides, the contrast seems to come in sharper detail.
Camarillo Springs Golf Course, a Ted Robinson design of 1970, brings the golfer in front of that green-against-brown disparity early in the experience.
Just under 50 miles from L.A.'s central business district, Camarillo sits in one of the country's most productive agricultural regions. The hillsides are decidedly sparse but the flatlands are covered in groves (citrus, mostly) and plastic-covered strawberries. Also, greenhouses abound with everything from gladiolas to, well, the list goes on.
On the golf course, the second, fourth and sixth greens rest above the fairways and are set against the sage and rocks that cover the outlaying fingers of the Santa Susanna Mountains.
Standing in the fairway for the approach to no. 2, for example, you feel the mountains provide that depth-defining backdrop, and it sort of sits in the back of your mind that a mis-judged shot will disappear into the wild.
Aside from the setting, Camarillo Springs is a full-service course. The driving range is located close to the pro shop, though plastic mats make up the hitting areas. The small grill offered typical golf fare.
The routing takes golfers through three separate pods of holes, with holes 2-6 comprising one set, holes 8-10 another, with nos. 7 and 11-18 being the last as they spread in the flatlands nearer Highway 101.
I found the first and third pods to be the most interesting. The first hole is a right-to-left dogleg up the slope, with the par-7 seventh that returns to the pod serving as a guard on the left side.
After crossing a residential street, the course opens up to the natural topography -- gently rolling land rolling and rising to present greens against the sharp elevations of the backing hillsides. It is here that you get the feel of the land as well and in when the afternoon breezes off the Pacific cool you, you get that unique Southland charm -- moderately warm but very comfortable.
A short par 3, an uphill par 5 and a downhill par 4 comprise holes 8-10 that play up and then down gradual slope, residential areas guarding the outer boundaries.
In the flatter areas north of the clubhouse and nearer Highway 101, water hazards are the key. The 15th -- a 334-yard par 4 -- is surrounded by water hazard, and the long, challenging, par-5 16th finishes with a canted green guarded by another water hazard in front of the green. Water guards the left of the par-4 17th and par-5 18th fairways.
During the summer, when inland Southland temperatures reach close to 100 degrees, so golfers seeking cooler climes congregate at Camarillo Springs.
"Even on Tuesdays or Wednesdays during the summer, when I play, it gets busy this time of year," said Dave Townsley, who worked the course as a marshal. "Golfers come to get out of the heat."