Rustic Canyon Golf Course in Moorpark offers great conditions and value
MOORPARK, Calif. – Near the border of the Ventura and Los Angeles County lines, Rustic Canyon Golf Course offers a stark contrast to the area as a whole.
Amidst suburban sprawl and a growing population, the golf course provides a natural break in the chaos -- and a fitting destination among the L.A. golf scene.
Wide and open with subtle elevation changes and undulations woven between flat, links-style holes, Rustic Canyon is somewhat of an anomaly in that it literally almost didn't survive. Not long ago, the Gil Hanse design was nearly wiped out as a result of a major southern California's storm. The rains of 2005 caused mudslides, flooding and damage to the once-pristine conditions, resulting in a $500,000 cost to the club to rebuild parts of several holes, including the entire fourth hole, which was buried beneath four feet of mud. The golf course was only three years old at the time, but after Hanse returned for the repairs, many argued that the course emerged, in fact, even better than the original.
Only a year after Rustic Canyon reopened, Golfweek rated it as the fourth-best public access golf course in California -- behind Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spanish Hills and Pasatiempo G.C. To add to its list of accolades, Rustic Canyon was recently ranked No. 10 on Golf Magazine's 2010 best public golf courses in California, alongside Torrey Pines, PGA West and other famous -- and more expensive -- layouts.
"We're all proud of the course and the experience we provide the players and members," PGA Professional Buddy Kalencki. "It's a great course with a loyal set of players, and once a person plays it and experiences the uniqueness of the property, we find that they come back."
Players come back to Rustic Canyon Golf Course for good reason. With green fees that run less than half the cost of golf courses closer to city limits, Rustic Canyon ranks as one of the best-kept secrets near Ventura and Los Angeles counties in price and quality. It also offers a great test of golf on natural conditions not often seen in the area.
Rustic Canyon Golf Course: The golf
Rustic Canyon Golf Course, at just less than 7,000 yards and with four sets of tees, is truly wide open. Few trees and vegetation grow on the golf course, and the property is flanked by environmentally sensitive areas. There are also no homes on the course, save one residence on a bluff built before the construction of the golf course. And thanks to those environmentally sensitive areas, more houses won't be built on the golf course, despite the northwestward expansion in recent years of Los Angeles.
To add to the links-style experience, deep pot bunkers guard several greens, and natural grasses provide separation between holes. Waste bunkers are abundant and catch errant shots for a more forgiving lie than the long native grasses. Rustic Canyon Golf Course's bentgrass greens undulate, and the fringes around them are long but puttable. But don't expect a short chip and putt to always work as planned. A good short game is an asset out here. Even if you're confident in your flat-stick ability, you may be humbled.
Hanse used the natural routing and undulations of the earth for much of the golf course. Its distances entice big hitters to take chances, while allowing more accessible distances for shorter hitters. The third hole, for example, is a short par 4 of 315 yards that appears flat, wide and drivable. It veers a bit left toward the bluff with lots of rough.
A handful of holes feature elevated greens, like the par-3 eighth -- a short, 127-yard hole surrounded by waste areas, deep pot bunkers and long native grasses.
Rustic Canyon Golf Course's 11th hole sustained damage in the flooding, and it increased in difficulty after its repair. Where players could once cut the corner of the dogleg left for a more optimal position in the fairway, a strategically placed bunker removes that option and forces shots to stay right. Overall, the golf course allows for a great walking and push-cart opportunity, though carts fitted with GPS are available.
"This is my go-to spot for golf," said Jim Moore of Woodland Hills, Calif. "Conditions are always great, and it is so quiet and peaceful out here. Temperatures are normally much cooler than in the L.A. area as well. It's a great value for the dollar."
Rustic Canyon Golf Course: The verdict
If you're looking for a great bang for your buck while enjoying the peacefulness of Moorpark, Rustic Canyon could be the golf course for you. Few venues in southern California feel this secluded, this peaceful and this natural, yet provide a high-caliber golf experience for nearly every level of player. And with affordable peak rates, it's enticing to return for one of the area's best values.
Before or after a round, swing by Rustic Canyon Grill for one of its signature dishes. The Rustic Burger is one of the golf course's best-selling items.
Practice facilities and golf instruction at Rustic Canyon
Rustic Canyon Golf Course features a driving range, practice putting green and chipping area for a good warm-up. Its golf instruction, though, is top notch, with its player-development program and staff of four instructors. For little linkers, Rustic Canyon is also home to the Golf Academy of Ventura County. In its junior program, the academy uses six levels of achievement to advance golfers through numerous stages of the game.