This is it: my local favorite!
Hidden in plain sight, Moorpark Country Club is a sweet, sweet, tasty treat. I am tempted to keep this treasure to myself but I just have to sing its praises. A 27-hole course with each nine returning to the swanky clubhouse and five sets of tees, Moorpark will keep you interested and challenged with its Peter Jacobsen design. Avoiding commitment is easy around here with all the choices in golf courses, but this is my local favorite and if I had to pick a steady date, this would be my home course.
Note: If you're not going to read the entire post, skip to the bottom to read about the discount offer!
Yes, it is a country club and memberships are available, however they are also open to the public which is great news for riff-raff like me. I don't get to play too many private courses, so I really enjoy playing on the rare public course that is kept up to private course standards. They do that at Moorpark.
Steve Vigiano, the Director of Golf, bragged about the exquisite greens before my round. "That's what they all say," I thought. Can I trust a man who takes better care of his skin than I do? I certainly can. Golf course pros often have a snooty, slightly less than gruntled aroma about them. Not Steve. He puts the fessional back in golf pro. Someone so polished has no business being so accessible and genuine, but he is. Kind of like the golf course itself. I don't know how long he's been there, but maybe they're rubbing off on each other. He's genuinely proud of his course, he has good reason to be, and he represents it well.
Again I indulge my tangential thoughts. Dog bless blogs. Back to the course.
I think I mentioned the greens. When I close my eyes and picture one of the greens, my eyebrows raise, my mouth opens and I hold my fingers out like I could pet it. I might drool a little bit. They're that nice.
They really stay on top of things and keep every hole looking and playing its best. For example, the fairways were recently attacked by a fairly new disease to these parts, called Gray Leaf Spot. They completely overhauled the course, putting in a new Bermuda base (Bermuda resists it) and will be overseeding with Rye to get that beautiful green color back. This only affected the fairways. The greens and tees are perfect. I just took these photos and you can see it's already looking pretty good. Right now, it's cart path only because they're sensitive, but it's still a beautiful course and completely playable. Soon it will be back to how it looks on their website. Comprehensive website, by the way. They've got descriptions and photos of every hole, scorecards for each nine and much more. Check it out at www.moorparkgolf.com.
Of the three nines, Canyon Crest, Ridgeline and Creekside, it's difficult to pick a favorite. Each one has its own personality and style.
Creekside requires serious strategy and shot making capabilities with its doglegs and carries. Ridgeline will also test your skills with its long, narrow, undulating design. Canyon Crest is probably the friendliest nine with wider landing areas and more approachable greens. If I had to play this course only once (thankfully I don't!), I think I'd prefer to play Creekside and Ridgeline. I feel like I'd be getting the most golf there somehow. If I had to compete there, I think I'd pick Canyon Crest and Creekside. Not that Creekside is easier - in fact, the course and slope ratings are higher; perhaps it's just more suited to my game than Ridgeline. Not that my score showed it, but I can feel it. I guess since I picked Creekside in both scenarios I could say that's my favorite. For now.
Note: none of the nines are walking courses. It's just too spread out and hilly. Even for you die hard walkers, I wouldn't try it even if they'd let you. Don't worry, though, the carts are primo with coolers and illustrated GPS devices.
Ratings and Tee selections
As I mentioned, they have five sets of tees, which offer a nice selection for men and women alike. Female golfers often find that to be a welcoming sign. Two of the sets of tees are considered "lady's" as evidenced by their position on the bottom of the scorecard and that they only have one set of ratings. I played the white (middle) tees - which are rated for both men and women - in order to get a better vantage point for my assessment, but I'm sure I'll be trying out both the reds and the golds. I'll be playing the whites again, too - I know I can do much better than my 146 (that's 27 holes, not 18).
As for which sets of 18 are considered more or less difficult, that really depends on which tees you choose. For example, if a woman plays the white tees, the Canyon Crest/Creekside combo is rated the highest for difficulty. If she plays the red tees, the Ridgeline/Creekside combo has the honors. Since the ratings aren't on the versions of the scorecards they have on their website, here they are for your convenience:
The public range and practice facilities are first rate to complement the rest of the course. The restaurant rates four stars and there is lovely patio seating outside the restaurant and bar with a nice view of some of the golf holes you just played.
They really take care of people at Moorpark. Members and riff-raff alike are treated like they're at a resort. The greens fees, while high compared to some other local courses, are nowhere near the fees of resorts with similar course conditions and amenities. They have special packages, ladies' days, and are doing all the right things to make your experience not just excellent but an excellent value. Plus, you are special so you can get the Golfchick discount! Hey, instead of just killing time with this extra long post, there's actually a reward with this one.
If you live within 60 miles of this golf course, you really shouldn't miss it. Hell, I've been known to drive a lot farther than that to play courses that aren't this nice. So there's my not so secret secret. Anyway, with three nines they keep the flow organized and moving along for a nice pace of play, so go ahead and fill 'em up.
I told Steve I was going to write about the course and asked if they could give my readers some kind of deal. He was generous enough to agree! So, when you reserve your tee-time, tell them the Golfchick sent you and enjoy a 30% discount off their regular rack rates! And please, please, please, repair your ball marks. I don't want the velvety greens I pet in my daydreams to morph into the pock-marked face of Tommy Lee Jones. Bglylehlchh!
Update 12/20/06: The Golfchick discount period has expired. For discounted teetimes, book them online at the Moorpark CC website.
Update: As was pointed out to me by an astute reader, I neglected to mention WHERE this terrific golf course is in the world. (I did link their website, which has that information, but still - what a faux pas on my part!) The answer is Moorpark, California, which is about 45 minutes from Los Angeles. Here is the address and phone number:
Moorpark Country Club
11800 Championship Drive
Moorpark, California 93021
www.moorparkgolf.com (you can get directions on the website)