Swing with the stars: A guide to swanky and fun golf in Malibu, California

One of my doctors loves to squeeze golf travel advice out of me while he's stabbing me in the arm for my monthly allergy shots.

I kindly oblige, not wanting to mess with a man wielding two needles.

His latest request threw me for a bit of a loop. He's headed to a wedding in Malibu, Calif. this summer and wanted to know where to play. I've played plenty of golf in California, but I'd never been to Malibu. I remember as a child my sister playing with her Malibu Barbie doll. That was the extent of my knowledge of the place.

Doing the research, I'm ready to hide in his luggage, even if we can't talk our way onto Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks or Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, two swanky private clubs nearby.

The most convenient -- and perhaps best -- public option would be Malibu Golf Club, a classic design by William F. Bell in the Santa Monica Mountains. I've just recently played Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes Estates southwest of Los Angeles, and it has stoked my interest in Bell, a partner with George Thomas of Riviera fame.

The 6,614-yard Malibu Golf Club, which opened its doors to the public a couple years ago, looks to have similar features as PV -- beautiful views, tree-lined fairways and nice bunkering. Its $65-$86 price tag avoids any SoCal sticker shock.

I have played and highly recommend another Thomas classic 55 miles up the road, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Thomas and William P. Bell designed the Ojai Country Club in 1923 in a lush valley of the Topa Topa Mountains. Its proximity to Hollywood has drawn celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Will Smith, Kevin Costner and Michael Douglas to play its fairways.

At 6,292 yards from the tips, Ojai's tournament days expired in the 1990s back when legends Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Weiskopf, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ben Crenshaw and others teed it up at seven Senior PGA Tour events and two EMC2 Golf Skills Challenges. Jimmy Demaret and Doug Sanders have been resident pros.

For a more modern feel, Bob Cupp designed the course at Tierra Rejada Golf Club in December, 1999, in Moorpark 28 miles north of Malibu. I think members of either political party will enjoy the 11th hole, a par 3 dedicated to Ronald Reagan.

Hey, Doc, since I'm giving away all this great advice away for free, shouldn't the shots be pro bono? It's only fair.

Editor's Note: Malibu Golf Club closed in 2015.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries 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 @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Commented on

Malibu opened in 1976 but it's in trouble now. 


Related Links

Everybody knows about Bel-Air, Los Angeles Country Club or Riviera. All are great places to play if you're in Los Angeles. The trouble is they are all very, very private. So if you're visiting downtown L.A. either on business or pleasure, where do you play daily fee or public golf? Relax. Mike Bailey has some suggestions.
4 Min Read
In Los Angeles, local golfers and savvy visitors are willing to wait a little longer on the tee because they reap the rewards of quality city golf for minimal capital. L.A.'s muni courses range from undulating fairways in the Hollywood Hills to a bucolic getaway on the West Side. Two top-notch choices are Griffith Park and Rancho Park in Cheviot Hills. Robert Gray has more.
4 Min Read
A nod to the past has rejuvenated Palos Verdes Golf Club, a historic William Bell/George Thomas design 30 minutes from LAX. Todd Eckenrode used old photos to restore the course to its former glory with a few modern twists. As a result, this semiprivate course is no longer a hidden gem.
8 Images
Browse tee times and specials for Ojai Valley Inn & Spa on GolfNow
More from the author
4 Min Read
November 21, 2022
More than $100 million in renovations and upgrades have Horseshoe Bay ready for your next golf getaway.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2022
New innovation brings unique products to improve the life of golfers.
3 Min Read
November 7, 2022
A club fitting with the TaylorMade Performance Center at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy can help you find a new favorite club.
1 Min Read
November 7, 2022
The YOC auction raises money to benefit junior golfers.
3 Min Read
November 2, 2022
Golf bachelor parties require the right mix of nightlife coupled with daytime rounds. We've found the best spots for your crew.
2 Min Read
October 31, 2022
Hitting golf balls into nature on purpose breaks the ethical code that golfers should leave the course - and its surroundings - better than how they found it.
7 Min Read
November 18, 2022
We cover every price point to make sure your favorite golfers get the gift they want this holiday season.
2 Min Read
November 7, 2022
Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Morgan Pressel share their major-winning experience to help you play better.
7 Min Read
November 2, 2022
Both established resorts offer reliable Florida fall and winter golf getaways.
Load More
Now Reading
Swing with the stars: A guide to swanky and fun golf in Malibu, California