It’s a course of a different color in California’s Orange County.
Pictured above: Tustin Ranch Golf Club
Orange County most assuredly is a Republican-red stronghold. Still, the popular Southern California destination is also a democratized, neon-green golf scene that more than fulfills snow-weary Coloradans. Dozens of public and resort courses abound, and there’s no better time to play than right now.
Among our all-time favorites are the sensational Tom Fazio-crafted courses at the Resort at Pelican Hill (above), located just south of Newport Beach. Recently reopened after a comprehensive two-year “re-perfection”—much of it entailing a sophisticated irrigation system that annually conserves more than 50 million gallons of water—the twin North and South layouts earn top billing for their irrepressible shot lines, Pacific Ocean panoramas and distinguished clubhouse amenities.
Fêted for its pulse-quickening coastal views is the Robert Trent Jones-designed golf at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort (above) in Dana Point. Modeled in a traditional Scottish links style, the environmentally sensitive course is integral to a wildly popular resort playlist that includes six restaurants, spa, private six-acre beach and 400 guestrooms that recently underwent a $30 million, bed-to-bath transformation.
Rustic Canyon Golf Course (above) in Moorpark is another bipartisan Orange County must-play. The Gil Hanse design, No. 5 on Golfweek magazine’s California Courses You Can Play rankings, is an acclaimed throwback links with free-form greens, shaggy edge bunkering and target-oriented strategies that on weekends can be had for $66 plus cart.
Politically correct or not, a round on Trump National Golf Club (above) will definitely command your attention. Pete Dye orchestrated this superb public facility, a parallel-fairway, pure-golf experience sited on the jagged Palos Verdes Peninsula that’s further accentuated by views of mesmerizing Catalina Island.
Celebrated architect Ted Robinson crafted Tustin Ranch Golf Club, which suggests players can anticipate a risk/reward challenge made even more compelling by strategic water hazards, a Robinson signature. Further, the popular public facility is located less than a half hour’s drive from Disneyland, Irvine Regional Park and Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Other worthwhile memories await at Strawberry Farms Golf Club, a parkland-style routing developed in Irvine by former Baltimore Orioles and California Angels player Doug DeCinces; public Los Verdes Golf Course in Palos Verdes, crafted by Riviera Country Club design contributor William P. Bell; and the Links at Terranea (below), an engaging par-3 track also located in Palos Verdes.
The Links at Terranea are not your average Par 3 course.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.