I made a completely pleasant golf discovery last weekend that I wanted to share with you.
I was invited to play the nine-hole Ben Brown’s Golf Course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. This is one of those local-secret courses, but it’s too good not to share. From the online description, I gathered little about the course I was about to play after being invited. I recalled a course sign being where this supposedly was – a mile from the ocean off PCH, just past Dana Point – but I’d never heard anyone talk about it.
Finding it is the first issue, though my phone app. got me there no problem. But the turn-in is sparsely and confusingly signed (what’s Aliso Creek?) and easy to miss, especially if you’re still fixated on the ocean.
But what you discover will surprise and amaze you. It’s a beautiful nine-hole layout that wanders through an incredible canyon setting. Every hole is a discovery of fun golf and wonderful scenery, including caves, that’s best taken in on two feet as this course, a SoCal rarity, is completely walkable. In fact, hardly anyone rode the day we played.
The course stretches to 2,221 yards from the blues and presents a fun mix of alternating par 3s and 4s that makes you work through most of your bag. The course and greens were in impeccable shape and provided enough tough holes to keep things interesting. There are at least two holes, both involving creek carries, here you’ve got to play at least twice to figure out how to club right. And I definitely recommend looping this course twice, mostly because it’ll take you no time at all. The pace was terrific here, too.
Oh, and when you arrive you hear rumors about deer. Sure enough, we saw them on our second nine. Deer in Laguna. Who knew?
Anyway, this is where I power down my fingers and let the photos do the talking. Here’s a glimpse of a great, and somewhat undiscovered, south Orange County golf experience.
(Zoom in if you can’t see the moon.)