Rustic Canyon Golf Course (Moorpark, CA on 11/22/15)

Round one of my California trip with my friend was at Rustic Canyon. I had played here about five years ago which was before I started my blog. Normally, I’m not too interested in returning to a course that I’ve already played (while on vacation), but Rustic Canyon is one of the most talked about public courses in Southern California and I enjoyed my first round here. My friend had never played here before so that made it the perfect chance for a return trip for me to update it on my blog! Unfortunately, I’m going to have to skip the hole by hole section.

As I mentioned, Rustic Canyon is a well-known course in the Southern California golf community. Many of the golf magazines have taken note too as the course typically gets ranked as one of the best public courses in the state and one of the top values. I remember when I played here years ago I think I paid ~$40! Our price this time was $66 to walk early on a weekend morning. I wouldn’t call it a great value, but you certainly can do worse in Southern California!

Rustic Canyon is located a few miles north of the Ronald Reagan Freeway in a small canyon. There aren’t any homes around so you get to take in some nice views, especially on the back nine. While the elevation change is noticeable walking the course, there are only a couple elevated tees. Most of the elevation change is gradual as the holes are laid out in a linear fashion with hills on each side. The first few holes play downhill, the middle group uphill returning to and passing the clubhouse, and the last few holes are back downhill. There are quite a few shots that are half a club more or less! We walked in 4 hours and 15 minutes which is pretty decent considering my limited experience with golf in Southern California. I survived the walk, but no way would I call it an “easy” course to walk.

The course is links style with very few trees in play unless you knock it into a bad spot. Most of the course seems to have been designed for windy conditions and that’s a good thing because the wind howling the day we played! Even first thing in the morning, I’d guess the winds were probably gusting to 30mph. It blew our golf bags all around and made it so that I never could get comfortable over a shot. We played the blue tees which play 6634/71.6/128 and from tee to green you can hack it around in the wind without many problems. The fairways are wide and there aren’t many forced carries. There’s plenty of space so I was able to play almost any shot along the ground if I wanted. I had a blast trying some shots that I don’t normally play! To give an idea of how friendly the course is from tee to green, I played with the same ball for 18 holes in all that wind!

The challenge at Rustic Canyon is going to be the green complexes! The greens are not only tough to putt, they are visually deceiving. The greens are on the small side, but they look large from the fairways because of large, closely cut aprons that surround them. The greens almost get “lost” in the fairway so that makes it tricky getting the ball pin high. You can putt or chip almost any club that you like around them so even if you are well off the green you have plenty of options. The greens have some severe slopes and small table tops to them. I’d even go as far to say that I’d consider a few greens to be borderline unplayable on a perfect scoring day. With all the wind while we were there shots were going sideways and backwards which wasn’t much fun!

There are a few holes at Rustic Canyon that standout to me from the couple of times that I’ve played the course. I like the back nine a bit better as is spread out over more real estate and that’s where my favorite holes are located. The 12th is a short, downhill par 4 with a large fairway. It was downwind when we played and I hit 3 wood pin high! Driving the green isn’t too likely because of the angle from the tee, but there are multiple ways to play the hole. Holding the green, even when chipping from just off the edge, is tough as the green is small and falls off on multiple sides. The 14th, a 446 yard par 4, is another one of my favorite because of the tee shot. It plays downhill and is one of those tee shots where you can take as an aggressive of a line as you want, as long as you can carry it farther!

The conditions were better than I expected considering the water problems that the state has had. The course played firm which complimented the links style design. The fairways were a bit thin but I didn’t have any lies that sat down too much. From the thin lies it was hard to elevate shots, but that’s not the style of golf that is needed so it wasn’t a bother. The greens were a nice color green and very fast.

Overall, I like Rustic Canyon. You can pick lots of different lines and play lots of different shots. I’ve got just a few quibbles about the course, but nothing that would be worthy of me discouraging a round here. I think the greens could be flattened to be more player friendly and I wish that the majority of the par 5’s weren’t all in the same direction. There are actually five par 5’s (par 72 still), but besides the 1st, all of them play the same direction and are uphill. I’m not sure I’d battle the traffic from Los Angeles to play here, but if I was headed over the Grapevine into or out of town then I’d consider a detour to play Rustic Canyon.

#1 (512 yard par 5):

1-1 1-2

#2 (443 yard par 4):

2-1 2-2

#3 (308 yard par 4):

3-1

#4 (152 yard par 3):

4-1 4-2

#5 (545 yard par 5):

5-1

5-2

#6 (200 yard par 3):

6-1 6-3

#7 (338 yard par 4):

7-1 7-2

#8 (123 yard par 3):

8-1 8-2

#9 (518 yard par 5):

9-1 9-2

#10 (546 yard par 5):

10-1

#11 (430 yard par 4):

11-1

#12 (325 yard par 4):

12-1 12-2

#13 (546 yard par 5):

13-1 13-2

#14 (446 yard par 4):

14-1 14-2

#15 (138 yard par 3):

15-1

#16 (466 yard par 4):

16-1

#17 (161 yard par 3):

17-1

#18 (437 yard par 4):

18-1 18-2

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