In 2007, within Pope Valley in northern California, Tom Doak and Renaissance lead associate Jim Urbina completed the redesign of an old E. F. Hutton layout at Aetna Springs Golf Course, overhauling a rather nondescript 9-hole course that’s reputed to have first opened for play in 1893.
The Aetna Springs resort was established back in the 1880s when a hot spring was discovered and it quickly became a summertime destination for holidaymakers from San Francisco and Hollywood. This led to the establishment of the original golf course which catered for the sporting needs of visitors to the spa.
Nowadays, the resort is long closed but the revamped course lives on, thanks to its new millennium makeover. Measuring 3,052 yards from the tips and playing to a par of 35, the layout is comprised of one par five, two par threes and six par fours, with the 228-yard 2nd and 134-yard 4th the pick of the holes.
The degree of challenge here is neither too easy nor too difficult, with a wandering creek and enough landscape contouring to keep things interesting. Despite the subtle movement in most of the putting surfaces, the simplicity of the green on the par five 8th (which is really just a flat extension of the fairway) makes this hole one of the best on the card.
Unfortunately the historic Pope Valley course closed in 2018. According to reports the property will be redeveloped for housing. However, in September 2018 we learned that there is still a chance that the course could be saved. Only time will tell.