Rustic Canyon Golf Course Page III
California, United States of America

Green Keeper: Jeff Hicks

Thirteenth hole, 555 yards; Throughout the round, the golfer is reminded of certain features or holes from another course set through a canyon – Riviera Country Club. The last hole has some of the playing characteristics of the the famed 10th at Riviera and this three shotter successfully adopts the broad, boomerang shape of the 1st green at Riviera in creating genuine strategic interest.  By moving the hole location from the right side to the lower left side, the golfer’s aim for his second shot can shift as much as fifty yards. Click here to read Geoff Shackelford’s fascinating account of how this hole evolved.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

Should the golfer go left or right of the Principal

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

This golfer did neither and is lucky that his ball didn’t get in the bath tub size bunker in the middle of the fairway.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course


With the flag on the right of the solitary greenside bunker, the golfer wants to place his 2nd shot well up
the right side of the fairway. The opposite applies if he sees the flag to the left of the bunker.

Fourteenth hole, 480 yards; Dogleg holes (as epitomized by the 6th on the West Course at Royal Melbourne) are an appealing architectural feature because each golfer can select his own target line. Ideally, the weaker player should have a shorter carry by playing away from the hole while the tiger golfer can seek to gain an advantage by carrying more of the dogleg.  Such is the case at the 14th as the tee is on one side of the wash and the fairway on the other.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

As seen from above, a view down the 13th fairway is bottom left and the Cape tee ball on the 14th is across the bottom of the picture.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

The aggressive line off the 14th tee is just right of the two walnut trees but it’s also the furthest carry.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

Once safely across the wash with his tee ball, the golfer faces this appealingly uncluttered approach.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

Could one ever tire of hitting shots into such a green? There are countless ways to approach the graceful sweep of the 14th green complex.

Sixteenth hole, 480 yards; Considering that the 14th, 16th and 18th holes are the three longest two shot holes on the course, the golfers is right in the thick of the course’s challenge standing on this elevated tee. With commanding views across the back nine, the golfer is reminded of George Thomas’s comment: ‘To my mind, the most important thing in the Championship course is terrain, because no matter how skillfully one may lay out holes and diversify them, nevertheless one must get the thrill of nature. She must be big in moldings for us to secure complete exhilaration and joy in golf.’

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

The exhilarating view down the sixty-five yard wide 16th fairway. Though plenty wide, the best view of the green is from the right side of the fairway.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

The wide but relatively shallow pushed up 16th green can be tough to hold. The 17th hole is in the background.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

As seen from behind, the 16th fairway cascades down to the green.

Seventeenth hole, 190 yards; Oddly enough considering that the hillside is on the right, the ground actually slopes from left to right. This is fortunate though as it sets up this one shotter for a fade, which is in nice contrast to the draws off the 11th, 12th and 14th tees.

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

The 17th sets up for a fade, with the land feeding the ball toward the back right hole location above.

Eigteenth hole, 460 yards; After the distraction of the nearby construction of the parking lot and clubhouse subsides in September, this hole will be recognized as a fitting finish. As with the Home Hole at Hanse’s Craighead, it plays down a slope, which becomes evident by the green, as it too continues to fall away from the golfer. Hopefully, the golfer will have figured out by now that this is a ground game course, and will attempt to hit in a low running shot. If he does, the sight of the ball drifting acorsss the green is one that will stick with him for a long time.

Rustic Canyon was a coming out party of sorts. Gil Hanse finally received an ideal block of sandy based property upon which to work. He wasn’t hemmed in by a relatively tight or unusually configured piece of property as he was at Craighead and  Inniscrone Golf Club respectively. As with his other designs, he created great golf holes but this time, there are truly no weaknesses – a hole like 10 at Inniscrone where he was forced to make do doesn’t exist. In addition, the sandy canyon floor and native fauna proved ideal for Jim Wagner to demonstrate that his craftsmanship is second to none in the business. And finally, Rustic Canyon’s close proximity to Geoff Shackelford’s home allowed Shackelford to be hands on with every aspect of course design.

Will Californian golfers realize what a gem of a course these three men produced? Certainly some will, as the sense of freedom from the typically tightly packed public courses will only inspire. Others won’t, as the course is so different that they will have no frame of reference.

The biggest item that will help the perception of the course is a first rate yardage book that provides a paragraph or two of text highlighting the options that are available to the golfer. The golfer may come to realize that the sea of green grass on the 4th or 9th or 12th holes is actually there for a reason. Once they start to understand the options that the design gives them, and appreciate the thought that went into each hole, they are unlikely to play elsewhere.

The only problem? Securing a tee time – both private and public golfers will be jostling for tee times because Rustic Canyon is simply that much more fun and thought provoking to play than just about any course – public or private – that one cares to name.

The End