Designed and constructed by George Thomas and Billy Bell in the early 1920s, the golf course at Ojai Valley Inn has changed quite a bit over the decades, most notably by a Jay Morrish major renovation in the late 1980s.
Built in the early 1920s Ojai Valley has withstood the test of time. While short, 6300 yards and a par 70 it is a good test of golf. The first hole is welcoming, aim over the pot bunker on the right. The 2nd, Devil's Cauldon, is only 358 yards but was voted on of the top 500 holes in the US. a dogleg right, one must hit the drive and the approach over a gorge. Aim at the bunker on the left side,but do not hit driver, it is only 215 yards. Anything right is death. The 3rd hole's moniker is Shorty and at 115 yards that makes sense. Aim for the middle of the green, this green is severely contoured and just about anything not centered will roll off. The par4 5th is a 440 yard downhill dogleg left. Aim a the tree on the right side of the fairway to ensure that you are not blocked out. The par 4 7th, named Crosby's Creek is 392 yards and the number 1 handicap hole. Aim towards the left rough off the tee as everything wonders right and hit an extra club on your approach. The 11th is a 230 yard par 3 called Pink Moment, try to avoid the bunker left. The 14th, Sander's Snare is only 203 yards. Pay careful attention to alignment on the tee box as the tee aims well right of the intended target line. Captain's Pride is another 203 yard par 3 with an eye popping carry over 6 bunkers. Unlike Shorty, this is a convex green and all shots will funnel to the center of the green. The par 4 17th is 403 yards with a forced carry. Aim down the left side as balls will amble to the right. With a multi tier green this may be the toughest 2 putt on the course. The 18th called Demaret's Challenge is a brutal 442 yards. Aim at the resort's steeple as all balls will roll left. This green is guarded on the right by bunkers in the sky, i.e. trees, Aim at the back left of the green to give yourself a chance. Super course and a lot of fun
I have played Ojai Valley Inn about 5 times now, mainly in December, and always enjoyed the experience. Whilst SoCal is blessed with an excellent selection of public golf courses ( Olivas Links and Rustic Canyon are just two) Ojai is rare treat. Mostly still true to the George C. Thomas it is short and tight but because of the changes of elevation a real challenge. The first is actually similar to the first at Portstewart (strand). After that he has the feel of an Abercromby design ( 2nd could be straight out of the Addington save for the heather). Like most SoCal courses the greens are wicked and when at their fastest very difficult if you get above the hole. Having said that it doesn’t over rely on speed for interest and challenge- they are well sighted and small. I particularly like the 3rd. It’s just over 100 yards but fantastic fun. The only dull hole is 15. A long par 5 which really needs some bunkering in the fairway to make it more interesting. The last 3 holes are terrific.16: A down hill par downhill par 3 to what appears to be a small target, bunkers in front , position Z left and OB right. 17 a shortish par 4 where the second short must be shaped left to right to find a shallow green. 18: An all uphill par 4 where the tee shot usually dies into the bank ( reminiscent of holes at Crowborough Beacon and Brancepeth Castle). If you book a round here remember that you can replay it on same day for just the cart fee. That can make it excellent value.