Southern California's Robinson Ranch Golf Club reopens Valley Course following extensive wildfire damage

Drought, fire and flood have tortured the Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita, Calif., 30 miles north of Los Angeles.

None have destroyed it. Robinson Ranch debuted its new Valley course the first week of March, roughly eight months after the infamous Sand Fire torched 3,300 acres of the surrounding Angeles National Forest in July 2016.

The recent epidemic of golf courses in California that have struggled or closed due to drought makes the comeback at Robinson Ranch that much more noteworthy.

There's even better news on the horizon for Robinson Ranch: The club will revive nine holes of its shuttered Mountain course with plans to reopen it by July. Plus, the new driving range is being upgraded to all turf.

There were times when Robinson Ranch Head Golf Professional Mark Kagaoan joked to friends about Biblical plagues hitting the club.

"Are locusts next?" he wondered.

At the same time, he realizes the wildfire probably gave Robinson Ranch a second chance. Last May, the club shuttered its Mountain course because of the ongoing drought, focusing its water and efforts on the struggling turf of the Valley course. Both are original Ted Robinson Jr. designs.

The renovated Valley course features a new, desert feel. Turf scrapped away in front of tees has been added to landing areas and green surrounds to make a once fearsome course more playable. A fair share of bunkers have also been removed. The fire destroyed tall vegetation that separated each hole and has been replaced by smaller, native plants, trees and cactus, so there’s a more open feeling to the landscape. Construction on drainage ditches and laying more sod is ongoing during this "soft" opening, so the course will need time to mature.

"We get to turn things around and rebrand ourselves," Kagaoan said. "The drought took a toll on us. Our course wasn’t what it was 10 years ago. You could tell by the comments (from players)."

The journey back to opening the course hasn't been easy. A flood from California’s wettest winter in many years washed away sod on four holes in February. Delays in reopening became the norm, but the persistence of owner Steve Kim has paid off. The course still has plans of someday becoming a full resort with a hotel and 27 holes for guests.

"This whole rebuilding and renovating, it couldn’t be done without the love from the owner," Kagaoan says. "He could have walked away. He loved it so much. He is doing whatever it takes to make it amazing."

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 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 Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
0 Comments
More from the author
5 Min Read
January 18, 2022
Whether it's music on the range or a friendly staff, these public and resort courses set the mood just right for a special round of golf.
2 Min Read
January 11, 2022
It's time to adjust your expectations, considering how different golf is during the colder, wetter months.
2 Min Read
January 3, 2022
Shotlink data showcases the holes on public and resort courses that baffled the pros in 2021.
4 Min Read
January 3, 2022
Want to start 2022 off with some great golf writing? Check out these pieces.
6 Min Read
December 27, 2021
If money and private club access were no issue, we've found the 10 destinations to live out your golf dreams.
3 Min Read
December 17, 2021
New tec, new greens and more will improve your next golf vacation to Arizona's Valley of the Sun.
Popular
18 Min Read
January 10, 2022
We tallied more than 320,000 reviews in 2021. Here are the courses you and your fellow golfers loved best.
1 Min Read
January 10, 2022
More than 40,000 reviews have been tallied to determine California's best public golf courses based on our community of reviewers.
By Golfers' Choice
2 Min Read
December 20, 2021
Golf course news & notes: December, 2021.
1 Min Read
January 10, 2022
Best public golf courses in the state based on our community of reviewers.
By Golfers' Choice
Load More
Now Reading
Southern California's Robinson Ranch Golf Club reopens Valley Course following extensive wildfire damage