About 40 miles north of L.A. set in an arroyo between foothills covered with arid vegetation Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford built a minimalist municipal golf course that screams brown is beautiful. The vistas are straight out of Bonanza. Standing at the bag drop you fully expect Ben Cartright, Hoss, and Little Joe to come hurtling down the hillside on horseback in a cloud of dust to welcome you to the Ponderosa.
The understated clubhouse sets the theme for your day
The range and short game area leave little doubt this is a municipal facility……
…….but what you need to prepare for what’s ahead is all there
A generous practice green shares space with the flag awaiting play coming down to the 18th green
The design trio was determined to do little to disrupt the natural appearance of the ground planning to “place the course onto the site instead of erecting a course there”. Very little dirt was moved and a dry wash that runs down the heart of this valley full of sage, scrub brush, and a kind of nasty desert broom was used as the primary hazard feature in creating this theater for a rustic golf experience.
The high end of the property you can see the source that feeds the wash
A dry sandy fault bisects the playing area the last 140 yards in on the first hole
The wash consistently presents itself as the primary obstacle to negotiate through the day
They achieved their goal as holes meld into the natural flow of the land
In his book “Grounds For Golf” Shackelford says of the design, “the emphasis will be on strategy that uses natural features as a priority, with bunkers added to compliment the unique contours”.
You can see a few bunkers were raised to augment the challenge when necessary
They may not seem that difficult…….
…but some of them will exact a serious toll for wayward approaches
Sprawling, undulating putting surfaces bleed into the surround fringes…they would feel at home on any links course across the pond
Ergo the ground game is often the better approach for getting close
In keeping with the theme the trimmings are right out of a dude ranch
Carts follow paths on which horses would feel comfortable to tread
Natural features were left to adorn the playing area
This one had an attraction for an NXT Tour ball
A stroke, a drop, and play on….,,,,
….to a 50 yard long lap pool of a green that looks straight out of the Golden Age of Design
Coming down valley on #16…. it is all natural, no artificial ingredients
This place is worth the trek it takes to get here. Set against the foothills, the combination of the flowing fairways, natural wash, and a few punitive extras make Rustic Canyon a simple yet surreal golf challenge.
For more course detail click to see the Rustic Canyon Golf Course Review
I think I’ll pass on this one! Freaky
Wait til you read the full review. This is some kind of cool and very playable for all caliber of players.