Willie Watson is a relatively unheralded Golden Age golf architect who designed numerous golf courses (primarily in California) including the Olympic Club and Harding Park. One of his best courses is the Hacienda Golf Club nestled among the trees and streams of La Habra Heights.
Hacienda opened with nine holes in 1920 and quickly moved to a full eighteen in 1923. The clubhouse takes a visitor through its substantial history including Gene Sarazen initially holding the course record and Tiger Woods shooting a 62 during his amateur days.
The course has a wonderfully quirky parkland routing that takes advantage of the hilly terrain as well as a valley floor that features a meandering stream. The conditioning of the course is top-notch and the club is notorious for its fast greens. A golfer would do well to stay below the hole.
The standout holes at Hacienda are the par threes which feature forced carries and deviously placed bunkers making them the most thought-provoking shots of the day. The par fours and par fives challenge the golfer with doglegs and elevated greens with streams and ponds presenting additional challenges.
The late John Harbottle III renovated Hacienda in 2006 after studying old aerial photographs. The architect added extra length and altered bunkers to maintain modern-day shot values. Hacienda is a true gem of Golden Age design and will continue challenging its members and guests for years to come.
Article by Pete Flanigan.
Hacienda may be hemmed in by history and geography but what is contained inside is a charming and challenging course that every golfer who enjoys Golden Age architecture should play. The greens are lightening quick the conditioning is top notch and the clubhouse has a tremendous patina to it.
The course is unfortunately too compressed for its own good but that aside, you will see shades of Riviera, LACC and many other classic courses in its DNA.