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 The fire destroyed tall vegetation that separated each hole and has been replaced by smaller, native plants, trees and cactus, so there’s a more open feeling to the landscape.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
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
4 Min Read
November 22, 2021
Anyone can play Tom Fazio's Wynn Golf Club, which sits in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.
7 Min Read
November 11, 2021
More than 115 golf resorts can be booked using your Bonvoy rewards. We break down where you can go and our favorite properties to use your points.
5 Min Read
November 3, 2021
Black Mesa's comeback strengthens Albuquerque and Sante Fe's position as a World Top 100 Golf Destination.
5 Min Read
November 3, 2021
Playing golf at night is a fun experience everyone should try.
3 Min Read
October 28, 2021
From Oakmont's Church Pews to a 'Coffin', these pits of Hell put a fright into golfers.
Popular
6 Min Read
November 20, 2021
Help the golfer in your life shoot lower scores, look and feel better than ever this holiday season with these eight golf gifts.
20 Images
November 1, 2021
Golfers sent us photos from Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup venues, plus a famous 19th hole by Tiger Woods.
1:46
November 18, 2021
GolfPass Sr. Managing Editor shows you how the Super Speed Golf training system and the 2021 PRGR launch monitor can help you add speed and yards to your game.
5 Min Read
November 2, 2021
Some U.S. cities have frighteningly few public-access courses for its residents. If you like variety, you may not want to live in these metros.
Load More
Now Reading
Southern California's Robinson Ranch Golf Club reopens Valley Course following extensive wildfire damage