Moorpark: a golfer’s paradise in east Ventura County
CALIFORNIA 101 GOLF TRAIL
Moorpark: a golfer’s paradise in east Ventura County
With the popularity of golf at an all-time high, getting a tee time at some of my regular courses has become a challenge. Rather than hanging my head or not playing, I have taken this opportunity to discover some new courses and I’m happy that I have been forced to explore these new and exciting tracks. In recent weeks, I’ve grabbed a few golfing buddies and took on the likes of Moorpark Country Club, Rustic Canyon Golf Course, and Tierra Rejada Golf Club. Over the course of three weeks, we played these three courses and we liked what we found.
Moorpark Country Club was first on our list, and I have to say, this was an elusive round to get in. After securing a tee time, we made our way to the course for a midmorning round. But when I was about 30 minutes from the course, one of my playing partners called and said the wind was blowing about 40 miles per hour. We quickly pivoted and decided to reschedule. The staff at the course were very understanding and helped us get a new tee time for a couple of days later, only to get rained out. A couple of weeks after that, we were able to make the trip to the beautiful course on a day perfect for golf.
When we got to the course and found playable conditions, we were impressed: it was in great shape. Moorpark offers 27 holes with nine-hole groupings divided into Canyon Crest, Creekside, and Ridgeline courses. We played the Creekside/Ridgeline combination from the black tees, which added quite a lot of distance to the round.
My partners Joe and John can both destroy the ball off the tee, but my other partner Dan and I are both medium hitters, so playing from the tips did present a bit of a challenge. The Moorpark Country Club is a fun course and for me (I’m a 12 to 14 handicapper) there were several birdie and par opportunities. However, I had a hard time judging the speed of the greens, and I paid for it all day long. I ended up putting 42 times on the day and my final score was reflective of my short game struggles.
The Moorpark Country Club is surrounded by picturesque rolling hills and I found the layout to be fun and peaceful. There were certainly times when we paid for errant shots, but overall we thought the course was fair. The staff were terrific and helpful with our questions.
After each round at these three courses, I asked John (a two to four handicapper) his opinion of the day overall. Of his Moorpark Country Club experience, he said, “I crushed the ball off the tee and hit a lot of fairways, but when I didn’t hit it straight, this course made me pay. I scored well today but the course made me earn everything. I love this track and can’t wait to play again.”
11800 Championship Dr, Moorpark CA
For reservations and more: (805) 532-2834; moorparkgolf.com
Rustic Canyon Golf Course – The second stop on our list was the Rustic Canyon Golf Course. This course has been on my list of places to play for several years, and I’m thrilled I finally checked it off my list. This course has tons of sassy personality, and more than any course in recent memory, Rustic Canyon is calling my name to return for another go.
We played a midweek morning round under fantastic conditions. I’ll be honest here, I played one of the best rounds I’ve ever played. My ball striking was much better than normal, I chipped the ball great all day but once again, my putter was dicey all morning. The greens at Rustic Canyon were fast, really fast. I am notorious for leaving putts short, but on this day, I was blowing the ball way past the cup. Also, our group hit a number of shots early in the round that you would have expected to stick on the greens, but we had a few balls hit the green and roll off to an unknown resting place. We all made adjustments as the morning went on and our back nine scores were reflective of our change in strategy.
I’m a fan of links-style golf, and this course was a lot of fun. The bunkers and thick rough definitely caused everyone in my group to think through several shots. None of us had ever played the course before so that made navigating the course fun and challenging. As I mentioned, I can’t wait to return to Rustic Canyon. Rather than attacking the pin, next time I play, I’ll definitely look to use my bump-and-run shots more. As well, I’ll arrive early to spend some time on their practice greens to adjust to the speed and breaks.
The pace of our round wasn’t very fast, which was actually OK for two reasons. First, we were looking for our share of lost balls, and second, we followed a group of regular players who were great company; they kept us entertained and laughing. In three simple words, “We’ll be back.”
Regarding Rustic Canyon, John said, “I hit some great balls today that ended up OB [out of bounds] because I didn’t know what I was doing. I want another crack at this course. I’m so happy we made the trip, and I can’t wait to come back!”
15100 Happy Camp Canyon Rd, Moorpark For reservations and more: (805) 530-0221; rusticcanyongolfcourse.com
Tierra Rejada Golf Club – The third and final stop on our three-week tour was Tierra Rejada Golf Club. This course was the one I knew the least about, but I left thankful I made the trip to Moorpark to check it out. Full disclosure, we booked an afternoon round knowing we might not finish. We made it through 16 holes and had to quit due to darkness, but I loved what time we did have on this course.
The description of the course on their website describes this course as being nestled in the foothills of eastern Ventura County, adding, “Nationally renowned architect Robert E. Cupp created this par 72 masterpiece of playability and scenic beauty. Tierra Rejada may be played from four sets of tees, (5,148 yards from the forward tees to over 7,000 from the back tees), each catering to a golfer’s own ability.”
I think the description is perfect. This course is beautiful, and we all enjoyed the way it played, probably because we all had great rounds. For the last few years, I’ve been trying to break the 80 threshold, and I was ahead of that pace before darkness set in. Despite never playing Tierra Rejada before, I found it to be challenging, yet there were birdie opportunities to be had. The fairways and greens were in great shape. My only issue was the bunkers, which were beat up by the time we got there (which isn’t a criticism of the course). With no rakes and a full day of activity, the sand is going to be trampled, and finding a place without a footprint was a challenge – at least in the traps I managed to find.
Of the three courses we played, the greens at Tierra Rejada held the ball best and the speed was predictable throughout the round, which made it easier to get into a good putting rhythm. Additionally, of the courses I’ve played since COVID-19, this one was the best in terms of pace. I don’t know if it’s because we just got lucky or if that’s the normal pace of play, but it was fantastic to play at a brisk pace.
John thought highly of Tierra Rejada as well. “Hitting the ball straight here is key. I lost three balls on the front nine alone and they were decent strikes that I would have thought would be findable. I enjoyed playing for the ravines, and the greens were super. I just wish we would have started early enough to finish 18.”
15187 Tierra Rejada Rd, Moorpark For reservations and more: (805) 531-9300; tierrarejadagolf.com
To sum it up: You can’t go wrong with these three courses. All three are beautiful and relaxing and we found the staff members to be kind and helpful at all three. We’ll be back for another crack at these tracks again in the very near future.