Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course: Discussions

Country Club Road
Ojai, CA 93023 • (805) 646-5511




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Ojai, CA (93023)
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TOPIC: Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course Review: 4-2007

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JohnnyGK
Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course Review: 4-2007

JohnnyGK

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    December 30, 2002


Favorite Golfer:
    GK'ers
Favorite Golf Course:
    Cascata


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Monday March 2, 2009 1:56 PM
At around 90 minutes north of Los Angeles and a quick drive from Santa Barbara, the Ojai Valley Inn has been a weekend favorite of city dwellers for years. People come to relax, to escape big city living, and for some, to enjoy a round of golf in a setting completely foreign to non-private club golfers of Southern California. You won't find the over-the-top "Country Club For A Day" vibe here that you would at other facilities (you know the vibe…the eager valets, the club scrubbers as soon as you pull your cart into the return area, and the other assorted little "services" that can sometimes be overbearing). On my visit, the emphasis seemed to be on "comfort", not on catering to every single little need the guest has (and some they didn't have). I prefer the way it's done here.

Players who have come here over the years will likely find that the routing they now play differs from the multiple iterations used in the past. Most notably, the longtime order of the nines has been reversed. Players now navigate the wilderness holes for the front and the parkland for the back. I'd have to say that if I had my choice, the wilderness would revert to being the back nine as I believe it to be the more "uniquely Ojai" of the two, but the current routing is not without advantages. The view from the 16th tee is the most spectacular on the property and is a worthy image to carry with you back to the clubhouse.

Originally designed by George Thomas (of Riviera, LACC, and Bel-Air Country Club fame), Ojai has been tinkered with over the years - modified and tweaked - with the most significant of these efforts being recently completed with the restoration of 2 "lost holes", the 16th and 17th. By modern standards, Ojai is a short golf course. The back tees, not quite reaching 6300 yards, allow longer players to dine on a healthy diet of wedges for most of the day. Still, I challenge each of you to come away from your round with a good score. Many may curse the fact that driver is taken out of the longer player's hands on holes like 2, 3, 4, 6, and 17, but the less masochistic among us will delight in the manageable approach shots they will find around most corners here.

Probably the most omnipresent trait at the Ojai Valley Inn is charm. The resort is charming, the golf course is charming, and the "away-from-it-all" feel is charming. There's something fun about playing pitching wedge par 3s and sub-350 yard par 4s of genuine merit knowing that this is more/less the way guests have been playing it for years. Along with charm comes quirk, and the layout/routing here has that as well. No par 3 exceeds 130 yards on the front nine, yet none of the three on the back are under 200 yards in length.

Do not let the first hole (an awkward dogleg right par 4 with a severely sloped fairway) discourage you…it's easily the worst hole on the course. The second is a unique challenge where you must cross 2 barrancas and thread a needle to get to the green in regulation - a plaque on the tee identifies it as one of the 500 greatest holes in America (and identifies it as the 11th). From here, you're off and running into the wilderness with the quaint 3rd, tricky 4th, spectacular 5th, strategic 6th, challenging 7th, and mystical 8th forming a 7-hole salvo that won't soon be forgotten. Climbing out of the valley up to the 9th tee is your first clue that there will be no more holes like these as wilderness has given way to parkland.

No matter, though - there are ordinary holes up on the higher ground of the property (the 9th and 12th come to mind) but also some excellent ones. The par 3s, as I mentioned earlier, each exceed 200 yards and provide a stern challenge for your long irons or fairway woods. 10 and 13 are par 4s that feature similar tee shots (from tee boxes no more than 20 yards apart) and provide wonderful views into the mountains beyond, and the 18th is a fine finishing hole where any par should be treasured. One bit of advice for the last from the blue tee box…there is a bell-tower type structure in the distance that looks like the appropriate line for this right-to-left sweeping fairway - any kind of long hitter (240+) must be left of this tower if you hope to find yourself in the fairway.

Conditions were decent but not great - the greens were mostly healthy (save for several bare spots and stressed areas) but a bit on the slower and bumpier side of ideal. A fair share of putts were made in our group, but the "pop" putting stroke will be an advantage under current conditions. Fairways were likewise a bit inconsistent. Sometimes the turf would be wonderful, and others (often enough to mention) there were bare or thin spots. The rough was slightly better throughout but again subject to inconstancy. Going against the grain of many of my recent experiences, the sand in the bunkers was excellent here and should you find yourself in it, you've got a fighting chance at a good lie and eventual recovery. Overall, while conditions could have certainly been better (and I anticipate they will be soon) they were certainly adequate for an enjoyable round of golf.
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JohnnyGK
RE: Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course Review: 4-2007

JohnnyGK

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    December 30, 2002


Favorite Golfer:
    GK'ers
Favorite Golf Course:
    Cascata


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Monday March 2, 2009 1:56 PM
Hi Everyone,

As you know GK as gone through many changes over the years. One of those changes has been the elimination of Greenskeeper.org Surveyor Reports to a more user generated content system. Instead of letting these older reviews disappear, I’ve decided to add them as permanent fixtures on the site in the discussions sections. Feel free to share your comments about them.

The review above was written by Ryan Simper (rsimper). Ryan is a low index golfer with some exceptional writing skills. He was a big part of the early days of GK getting quality content posted and helping golfers decide where to play.

Ryan, if you still chime into GK since moving to South Carolina, many thanks my friend.

Johnny
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