Soule Park GC, Ojai. Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, 2005.
I think it was Billy Bell Jr. who built the first course on this site in the 1960s, but the course that was here essentially all washed away a little over a decade ago. I played with a local and his assessment was the course that Hanse built here may roughly share the corridors of the old holes, but otherwise the entire feel of the course is different. This is a wonderful site—hilly but walkable, peaceful (but for the donkey that lives off the 12th fairway), and set in the magnificent Ojai valley. Hanse built a lot of unique features into a course that I imagine was already getting a pretty good degree of interest out of its hills and the creek that runs through the property. The punchbowl fifth green, the high right side on the eighth green, the difficult two-shot 12th sandwiched between two potential birdie holes, I could go on and on.
I played during a very wet winter and found the course in impressively playable shape, especially considering what they charge. The fairways were furry and wet, but the bunkers were good and the greens rolled true. I don’t ask for much more than that, but I’ve seen enough questionable reviews to bring it up. Still, if I should retire to the Ojai valley (and how lucky I’d be!), I suspect I’d enjoy more rounds here than at the fancy resort down the street.
California 3rd Quintile