A look at the course from the air, notice the width and use of central hazards.
Rustic Canyon in Moorpark California is a golf course so good that it draws people from around the country to come and seek it out. Many would assume that a course this popular must be a big budget course done by a large firm. The course was in fact built by a small team of dedicated young architects for a very modest budget.
What makes it so good?
The course echoes the strategies and spirit of St. Andrew’s better than almost any other course designed in recent times. The green’s are very complex and involve strict placement off the tee to ensure access to pin positions. The turf beyond the greens is kept intentionally short to make the ground game the game of choice. This brings in an element of chance and luck rarely seen on other modern courses. The bunkering is present, but like St. Andrew’s, the player feels they have lots of room to play safe away from most bunkering. The fairways are wide, with an immense amount of options, but often the most dangerous route is the one that opens up the green. Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and Geoff Shackelford have managed to bring the spirit of Scottish golf into a California Canyon.
A great setting that follows the natural contour in the Canyon
Why is it such a good model?
The golf course design follows the land, with little shaping beyond the tees, bunkers and green sites. This means they were able to build it for a modest budget, and the course only needs a modest green fee to make a return. Since the course is well designed, it is popular with all types of players. From a beginner to scratch handicap, each player is given a different test to fit the limits of their skill. Because it is so well liked, the course is busy, which guarantees the course will generate income for the community or ownership.
There is a lot to learn from Rustic Canyon.