George Thomas designed the golf course at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in the 1920s. (Ted Johnson/GolfAdvisor) The fifth hole at Tierra Rejada Golf Club is a dogleg left. (Oleg Volovik/GolfAdvisor) Big hitters could be humbled at Malibu Golf Club, as control takes precedence over length. (Courtesy of Alysa Kerner/Malibu G.C.)

Swing with the stars: A guide to swanky and fun golf in Malibu, California

One of my doctors loves to squeeze golf travel advice out of me while he's stabbing me in the arm for my monthly allergy shots.

I kindly oblige, not wanting to mess with a man wielding two needles.

His latest request threw me for a bit of a loop. He's headed to a wedding in Malibu, Calif. this summer and wanted to know where to play. I've played plenty of golf in California, but I'd never been to Malibu. I remember as a child my sister playing with her Malibu Barbie doll. That was the extent of my knowledge of the place.

Doing the research, I'm ready to hide in his luggage, even if we can't talk our way onto Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks or Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, two swanky private clubs nearby.

The most convenient -- and perhaps best -- public option would be Malibu Golf Club, a classic design by William F. Bell in the Santa Monica Mountains. I've just recently played Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes Estates southwest of Los Angeles, and it has stoked my interest in Bell, a partner with George Thomas of Riviera fame.

The 6,614-yard Malibu Golf Club, which opened its doors to the public a couple years ago, looks to have similar features as PV -- beautiful views, tree-lined fairways and nice bunkering. Its $65-$86 price tag avoids any SoCal sticker shock.

I have played and highly recommend another Thomas classic 55 miles up the road, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Thomas and William P. Bell designed the Ojai Country Club in 1923 in a lush valley of the Topa Topa Mountains. Its proximity to Hollywood has drawn celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Will Smith, Kevin Costner and Michael Douglas to play its fairways.

At 6,292 yards from the tips, Ojai's tournament days expired in the 1990s back when legends Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Weiskopf, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ben Crenshaw and others teed it up at seven Senior PGA Tour events and two EMC2 Golf Skills Challenges. Jimmy Demaret and Doug Sanders have been resident pros.

For a more modern feel, Bob Cupp designed the course at Tierra Rejada Golf Club in December, 1999, in Moorpark 28 miles north of Malibu. I think members of either political party will enjoy the 11th hole, a par 3 dedicated to Ronald Reagan.

Hey, Doc, since I'm giving away all this great advice away for free, shouldn't the shots be pro bono? It's only fair.

Editor's Note: Malibu Golf Club closed in 2015.

Jun 09, 2014

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BigusDickus's avatar
BigusDickus wrote at 2015-10-31 07:55:08+00:00:

Malibu opened in 1976 but it's in trouble now.

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.