The Rustic Canyon course was laid out in 2001 within a 350-acre site on the floor of a broad canyon to the north west of Los Angeles and – with less than 20, 0000 cubic yards of earth moved during construction – it’s widely regarded as a triumph of architectural minimalism.
Built on a former sheep ranch, Rustic Canyon was the result of collaboration between designer Gil Hanse, his associate Jim Wagner and golf writer Geoff Shackelford. Their aim was to set out a course where the game was played as much on the ground as in the air and to that end they succeeded effortlessly.
Generally wide fairways are routed in total sympathy with the sandy, free-draining landscape, and the generosity of width permits the golfer to consider alternate routes on many holes. Greens are large and imaginatively contoured with closely mown aprons, allowing bump-and-run approaches to be played at many of the holes.
As on the best of courses, the holes at Rustic Canyon get stronger as the round progresses with the inward holes climbing to higher ground and winding their way across some tough terrain before returning to the clubhouse. In particular, the compelling par fours at 11, 14, 16 and 18 are themselves worthy of the very reasonable green fee charged at this public facility.Last word to Gil Hanse who described Rustic Canyon as “the most lay-of-the-land course we have built to date. This is a testament to the beauty and strength of the land. An added pleasure in developing this golf course was the collaboration with Geoff Shackelford, a golf historian who reveres traditional design with the same fervour as we do. Rustic Canyon is a public course with little ego and a lot of heart (that) has shaped up to be very, very special.”
Is Rustic Canyon the best value for money in the whole world? If not, then you only need one hand to count the other candidates. My friend and I arrived at 5.20pm mid-week. I got two green-fees and a small souvenir for a total of $33! I even asked the shop assistant if he didn’t charge me correctly for it all, but it was all accounted for on the receipt.
This is a Gil Hanse public course and one which I’ve no doubt he is most proud of. Darius Oliver confidently included it in his ‘Planet Golf USA’ book. The natural terrain here is superb, especially how Hanse routed the holes over and around the natural ravines / areas of vegetation. The land on the back nine has more change in elevation than the front, which offers up fabulous views across the property, but also provides for the most challenging shots.
Rustic is constantly ranked as one of the "best bangs for your bucks" in golf and its not hard to see why. The greens fees are relatively modest and decrease during the day but what you get for your money is a tremendous links-style golf course where second shots and putting rule the roost.
There are so many ways to play each hole and to putt each green and the course is always in great shape (even during the current California drought). Hanse and Shackelford teamed up to create a really enjoyable round of golf.
Pace of play can sometimes be an issue as word as spread about this course but it remains one of my favorite courses in all of SoCal!
I have played Rustic many times, and it is great. Credit to the architect and grounds crew, this course plays firm and fast. The subtleties are awesome and you will enjoy this course if you understand strategic golf. I like it much more than many "higher rated" publics on the west coast.6 balls, no question.