This Is the Mecca of Affordable Golf on the West Coast (and You Probably Haven’t Heard of It)

In Southern California, between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, there is a lesser-known region that offers some of the finest affordable golf in the United States. That region is Ventura County, and the courses include Buenaventura, Olivas Links, Rustic Canyon, and Soule Park. Last week, my dad and I played all four of these courses, and not once did we pay a green fee over $35.

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Aetna Springs: A Neglected Tom Doak Gem in Wine Country

  • Aetna Springs Golf Course
  • Pope Valley, CA
  • Par 35, 3057 Yards
  • Opened in 1891, redesigned by Tom Doak with Jim Urbina in 2006

UPDATE: On January 14, 2018, just seven months after I posted this review, Aetna Springs Golf Course ceased operations.

I first heard about Aetna Springs Golf Course, a nine-holer in the northern reaches of Napa County, in volume two of Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. He rated it a 6 on the Doak Scale (by comparison, he gave TPC Harding Park, future host of the PGA Championship, a 5) and wrote, “there are a lot of good holes for such a little piece of property; it’s a lovely place to go and play.” Doak’s firm also happens to have redesigned the course, so my first thought was, What shameless self-promotion. My second thought: Hey, that’s pretty close to where my in-laws live.

I don’t get to play Tom Doak courses very often, much less for $23 per nine.

Continue reading “Aetna Springs: A Neglected Tom Doak Gem in Wine Country”