Ojai and Ventura Golf Guide
Any city that calls itself the "Shangri-La of Southern California" holds itself in pretty high regard, since the health-and-spirituality-based sanctuary in James Hilton's novel "Lost Horizon" was mythical. Yet this city of about 7,500 residents, located northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara, manages to live up to the high standards that the name Shangri-La promises.
Home to numerous artists, plenty of spiritual seekers and a smattering of Hollywood types, Ojai is only about 15 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, and the town drapes the foothills of the Topa Topa Mountains, which are bisected by hiking trails. The town sits in the Ojai Valley, below 6,000-foot bluffs, and the sunsets draw oohs-and-ahhs, as well as painters, because they glow pink, before dissipating into the evening.
The art galleries and the Ojai Valley Inn are the primary tourist draw, but touristy this regal establishment is not. The Spanish-style resort resonates class from every guest room and hacienda. As phenomenal as the accommodations and the dining establishments are, however, the Ojai Valley Inn is famous for its extensive, first-class spa. So golfers who spend time playing the fantastic George C. Thomas Jr. and Billy Bell championship course, completed in 1923, can either not feel guilty because their significant other is being pampered as well, or they can treat themselves to a spa treatment after a challenging round.
Visitors to Ojai looking to play more golf can head just down the street from the Ojai Valley Inn to Soule Park Golf Course, a muni that is well worth the time and inexpensive greens fees, or they can head towards the coast to play Olivos Links, Buenaventura Golf Course and River Ridge Golf Club, which features 36 holes. Or they can head back towards L.A. a bit to play Sterling Hills Golf Club, a course on which most everyone should find something to like.
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Ojai Valley Inn
The world-class Ojai Country Club was one of the first great golf courses in Southern California. Designed and originally built in 1923 under the direction of George C. Thomas, Jr. and Billy Bell, the course was hailed as "a marvel of golfing architecture." Thomas, who also designed courses at the Riviera, Bel-Air and Los Angeles country clubs, had two initial considerations for the Ojai course: "...that the average golfer could enjoy his round without too great a penalty, and that a test must be afforded requiring the low-handicap man to play fine golf in order to secure pars."
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