Teeing Up on East County Greens

Sterling Hills, Los Robles and Westlake offer some of Ventura County’s most beautiful greens, for not a lot of green

By The Unknown Golfer

Central California weather is golfing weather. It’s no wonder, then, that the Thousand Oaks/Westlake/Camarillo area has a number of amazing golf courses — suited for golfers of all abilities — within easy access of Highway 101.

Here are three courses we would recommend checking out this spring: Sterling Hills Golf Club, Los Robles Greens, and Westlake Golf Course. Over the span of two days, I visited the Sterling Hills Golf Club and talked to a twosome as they enjoyed a post-round drink, talked with the General Manager of the Westlake Golf Course about what they have to offer the golf community, and, finally, got out and played a delightful round with a longtime friend at Los Robles Greens.

My take away from all three experiences: All three courses are fun and in great shape as we come out of the winter months; all three are good values; and lastly, I’ll be returning in the very near future to get in some fun golf adventures!

Sterling Hills Golf Club, 901 Sterling Hills Dr, Camarillo

Located in beautiful Camarillo, the Sterling Hills Golf Club is a popular choice for area golfers and it is an excellent choice for those golfers looking for an excellent value. The moto at Sterling Hills is, “Great greens fore not much green.” If you play 18 holes, you can expect to spend $43 before noon on a week day, which includes your green fee, cart, range balls and food. Weekends prior to noon will run you $55.

Built in 1999, Sterling Hills is a par-71 course with a slope of 133. Golfers appreciate the layout and design of the course, which is in excellent condition. We ran into Mark and Carol from Los Angeles, who drove up and walked on midweek (without a tee time), and loved their Sterling Hills experience.

“We come two or three times a year. Sterling Hills is a fun course. and it is a nice getaway from L.A. We usually come early in the morning so the pace is good, and we enjoy the beautiful setting. My wife likes to hit the Camarillo outlets when we are done with our round, so we make a fun day of it,” said Mark.

Sterling Hills provides a full-service practice range, chipping area, practice bunker, and putting green for those looking to get in a practice session. They also have PGA instructors on-site to provide insight into the secrets of the game, and to help you take strokes off your golf game. If you are not playing a round, 99 range balls will only run you $12, which again is a value that is hard to beat.

“My handicap usually hovers around 14,” added Mark, “so this course is definitely a challenge for me. My wife likes the challenge as well, and Sterling Hills is definitely one of her favorite courses to play. Right now, the course is in good condition and it seems to be getting better, so the grounds crew here do a great job.”

Golfers also rave about the staff at Sterling Hills, which is led by Lee Harlow, who serves as the head of golf. Harlow and his team work hard to ensure a positive experience and they have made a number of improvements in recently months that have golfers returning for more.

For more information or to book a tee time, visit www.sterlinghillsgolf.com.

Los Robles Greens, 299 S Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks

Leading up to my visit to Los Robles Greens, I did a little research and learned the course was recently redesigned. Online, reviewers raved about the condition of the course, and they were not lying! Los Robles Greens is in phenomenal condition and provided one of the best rounds I’ve had in recent memory.

I invited my friend Katie to join me for the round. She is currently a medical student in the Los Angeles area, so the invitation to get away for a round of golf was most welcome. Katie is a beast off the tee and solid around the green, so she’s always a fun playing partner.

Los Robles Greens is a par-70 course with a yardage of about 6,300 yards. As we started our round, the beauty of the course definitely stood out, and the one thing both Katie and I realized is staying in the fairway is a very good thing on this course. With trees lining the fairways and lots of bunkers to navigate, I found myself taking more of a conservative approach on the tee than I normally would.

Katie, who hits long and straight, also felt the toughness of the course. “I hit the ball really well today, but I ended up off the fairway more than normal on the front nine, but made some adjustments on the back and scored much better. I think the biggest thing was I just relaxed, and took controlled swings and that paid off,” she said.

Aside from some challenges off the tee, my approach shots were solid and the greens held onto my ball, which gave me a number of makeable par putts. However, in what seems to be a recurring theme for my golf game, I left far too many putts short of the hole and recorded bogeys most of the round en route to a final score of 89.

In my pre-round research I read that pace of play can be a challenge at Los Robles Greens, but that was not an issue for us. Both Katie and I are avid walkers when we golf; we take pride in keeping a good pace and finished our round in about four and a half hours.

Los Robles Greens was a blast, and I’ll be back in the very near future! If you are looking to play a fun and challenging course that is in great shape, consider this course! The motto at Los Robles Greens is, “A public course in a private course setting,” and I think they nailed that description. Rates range from $75 on weekends during the morning (with cart) to $39 to walk on a weekday morning,

After the round, Katie and I added up our scorecards and enjoyed a drink in the Oaks Bar and Grille before heading back to our busy lives.

For more information on Los Robles Greens, visit their website at www.losroblesgreens.com.

Westlake Golf Course, 4812 Lakeview Canyon Rd, Westlake Village

The Westlake Golf Course is a gem of a course, and one of the best in the area for golfers who prefer to walk. At just under 5,000 yards, the course is not long, but it does provide plenty of challenges for golfers of all abilities. “Our course is a shorter course, but it presents a good challenge,” said general manager Chris Vatcher, who has been at the course for more than 30 years. “Our greens are in excellent shape, and as we come out of the winter months, the rest of the course is really starting to green up.”

Westlake has nine par-4 holes, seven par-3 and two par-5 holes for a total of 67. “People really like our 13th hole, which is a 170-yard par-3 over water. It can be a challenging but fun hole,” added Vatcher. The final hole of the round is a 240-yard par-4, which is enticing for many golfers. “No. 18 is a great chance for a birdie. It’s drivable, but you have to hit a little draw to be able to do it. We see a lot of guests birdie the hole to end their round, which is always fun,” said Vatcher.

In addition to being a fun, challenging and a walker-friendly course, Westlake Golf Course also has a stellar driving range with lights, so those looking to get in an evening practice session have a great option. “Our driving range is very popular, and we are open until 9 p.m. We also have a number of great teachers on staff, and we do a ton of lessons here at the Westlake Golf Course.

Golfers rave about the greens, which roll true and can provide a good challenge when they are fast. The water hazards and bunkers are said to be fair and fun to navigate. Given that it is a shorter course, the pace of play is generally well above average. Lastly, the staff at the Westlake Golf Course are friendly, helpful and excited to greet newcomers.

If you walk 18 on a weekday, your green fee will run $32 with a weekend rate of $42. If you want to add a cart, that will add $14 to your total. Westlake also offers twilight and super twilight rates. The course has a snack bar, pro shop and bar to satisfy all your other needs.

For more information on the course or to book a tee time, visit www.westlakegc.com.