Saturday, September 03, 2005

Support Soule Park – a great deal!

Not far from Ojai Valley Inn, the ritzy, highly touted and spendier Ojai golf course, is Soule Park. It’s one of our favorites in the area. It sustained about $3 million in damage during the winter rains and is still struggling. I read that there were issues with the management company trying to get out of its lease, and I don’t know what’s going on with that. They are rebuilding, so something’s working and someone sees the value.

Hole #2 (photo courtesy greenskeeper.org)

Some of the roads leading to the area were also washed out and last time we went there, there was only one way in and out of Ojai and it was down to one lane and took forever with alternating the traffic in two directions.

Our club championship was supposed to take place there this coming October but had to be moved. Even though all 18 holes are open, their SCGA course and slope ratings are no longer accurate. The number one and two handicap holes (7 and 15) are the ones that were most effected by the rain because they were split by that ravine which is now more than twice its original size. I think the irrigation system was also washed out.

Renovation Status

I called to find out about the status this morning and spoke with Gunther (thanks, Gunther). According to him, they have about a month and half left to go in their full renovation process. It will be re-rated by the SCGA once it’s complete; for now things are just changing too quickly. They’re re-doing all the greens in addition to repairing the damage (meanwhile, the turf from the old greens have been moved up for temporaries). It will take until about March for everything to grow in after the renovations are done, but it’s still a playable course. It is playing shorter now because of the moved-up greens, but it is also becoming a par 71 course (used to be 72). They’re changing the par 5 #7 (formerly the #1 handicap hole) into a long par 4 because they can’t put the green on the other side of the “creek.” They’re going to extend #15 (formerly the #2 handicap) into a longer hole, but it will remain a par 4. It sounds like the difference in par is just because of #7. It will be interesting to see what other changes are made and how the holes are handicapped after the renovations are complete.

What a deal!

It’s always been a great deal for such a nice place, but now they’re offering discounted renovation rates so it’s $38 to ride on the weekend! That’s the same price as Mountain View (a scrappy but fun little course, but a dog-run in comparison to Soule)! Twilight, which starts at 2:00, is only $21 to ride and there’s plenty of time to get in 18 before the sun goes down. Plus, it’s not very busy because of all this, so pace of play will be swift.

Gunther also told me that it’s easier to get in and out of Ojai now, too. They’re almost done with the work on some of those roads and now there are two ways in and out and it’s not quite as slow. It’s only about a 45 minute drive from the south end of Ventura County, and absolutely worth it.

I definitely look forward to playing it when it’s all fixed up. I have only played there once since the damage occurred, and we received such a warm welcome and personal service. The people were so nice and accommodating – maybe because they’re really appreciative of the support, maybe because it's Ojai or they're just good people. I’m going to try to get up there again soon and support this great little course and the people who came to its rescue, whoever they are.

Next post.

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