Eleven new holes, 18 new greens, a new irrigation system, 18 reseeded fairways, new ponds, a refurbished ClubhouseÉBut the same familiar, classic Billy Bell design.
When noted Billy Bell redesign specialist Forrest Richardson was retained by the City of Ventura to rebuild the 73-year old Build Buenaventura Golf Course, many of the locals, including some vocal Men's Golf Club members, were skeptical that the project would amount to anything more than an overpriced solution to the site's many obvious safety problems - and an "overpriced solution" that would likely lop off too much existing yardage and jeopardize much of the old course's charm.
Boy, were they wrong!
The $6.5 million project, which debuted in mid March, managed to retain everything that made the old course appealing while incorporating those elements of modern golf course architecture that facilitate playability and maintenance. As for the yardage issue, yes, Richardson was forced to reduce the track's yardage by nearly 300 yards to solve safety problems, but he did so in a way that lowered par from 71 to 70 and juxtaposed lengthy holes with short, tricky ones. The 16th hole is now a 464-yard 4-par with a water hazard fronting its new green. The 7th hole is a 244-yard 3-par, and the 10th hole is a 576-yard 5-par with water features and a new green. Those holes will certainly challenge your long-ball skills.
Most of the mature trees have been kept in place, the bunkers have been reshaped to give them the old Northeast look often seen at USGA Championship sites, and new lakes have been added - a blend of old and new that gives the course the distinct look of a restoration project.
Cool temperatures and flat terrain make Buenaventura an excellent walking course, and walking is another feature of golf's "classic era" that the City of Ventura has seen fit to retain.
With the successful redesign of Buenaventura now complete, Ventura's golfers cannot wait to see what the City and its golf course architect have in store for them at Olivas Park Golf Course just up the street. This autumn Olivas Park, which opened in 1969, will shut down for a year to receive a $12 million Forrest Richardson makeover - a plan that is almost double the cost of the Buenaventura project and anticipates a 7,100 championship caliber, links-style layout upon completion.
Buenaventura is located at 5882 Olivas Park Drive, about 3/4 mile west of Highway 101 off the Victoria Avenue exit. Walking rates are $23 weekdays and $26 weekends for Ventura residents and $29 weekdays and $34 weekends for non-residents. Affordability: Yet another "classic era" concept that the City of Ventura has retained.
The par-70 course plays to 6,054 yards. Its USGA Course Rating from the back tees is 69.3, and its Slope Rating is 121. Information about tee times and tournament packages is available at (805) 677-6772 or www.buenaventuragolf.com.