How many times have I traveled from Fresno in California’s Central Valley to the Central Pacific Coast of California and passed through Paso Robles. The answer to that question almost scares me and I really don’t think I can count that high. Each time I make the turn from California Highway 46 onto U.S. Highway 101, I think about Paso Robles Golf Club, and that I should play it some day when I come to the coast but I am always on my way somewhere to do something else. It is one of those courses that you put on your “I Gotta Play This Course” list, but never seem to stop to play. A couple of weeks ago, I got to cross it off that list and played it wondering why I had waited so long.
The course was designed by noted golf architect Bert Stamps and opened as a private country club, Paso Robles Country Club. In 1996, the course changed hands with the new owners not exactly taking the best care of the facility. This kind of acted as a double whammy as far as the number of rounds played at the course. Even though the course was opened to public play in 1996, it was still thought to be private and so the public never quite showed up as the old owners who took it public didn’t get the word out. Most people thought you just couldn’t get on the course because it was still private. Those who did play the course saw that the condition of the course just wasn’t up to snuff. With the misconception that the course was still private and the fact that the new owners were not taking care of what could be a wonderful place to play golf, play all but dried up. I have to say that I was one of these people that really didn’t have a burning desire to play Paso Robles.
Enter Mike Rawitser who also operates Santa Teresa and San Jose Municipal, both located in San Jose, California. He saw that this course and facility was truly a “diamond in the rough” and he purchased the course in 2011. He saw the course not for what it was at the time, but what it could be.
Changes were made almost immediately, bringing in a dynamic leadership team to run the course. The clubhouse was remodeled in 2012 to improve the restaurant and bar. The pro shop was brought from a dilapidated mobile home set on pillars above the first tee into a corner of the remodeled clubhouse. The old pro shop was torn down giving a better view of the course from the new pro shop and a wider selection of merchandise was made available. Another new building was built that would serve as a cart barn, club fitting facility and learning center. A lot of money was spent on improving fairways and greens, as well as relocating the number fourteen green. All of this done to bring an exceptional level of quality play to the golfing public. I have to say that it is working.
Paso Robles Golf Course is an “old style” golf course. Bert Stamps who was the architect took basically a flat piece of land and built the golf course using the terrain that he had to work with. The land had one big asset going for it though, and that was the number of huge oak trees that were on the property. He built the course around those huge trees and used them in a very strategic manner. Fairways are not lined by trees, but the big oaks come into play as do several lakes. The greens are small, well bunkered and putt true. I would describe the course as being “sneaky tough”. First glaces and opinions can be deceiving as the course is a good test of your golf skills and is a lot of fun to play.
Two holes stood out in my mind. The fourth is an uphill par three at 150 yards from the white tees. The hole is built in an area off by itself and has a creek running through it at the bottom of the gully. The green is protected by a bunker in the left front and an oak. You want to stay right on this hole, but not too far right otherwise you will have more huge oaks to bother you that are to the right, especially that big one just off the green. This is a great par three and is very pleasing to the eye as well.
The fifth hole is a short par four of 317 yards off the white tees. The fairway doglegs to the right and is tucked away into a bit of a forest on the right side. You want to put your tee shot out to the left, because if you are on the right side you put the forest that is on the right in play and you have a couple of oaks to contend with to get to the green. I know, I was there and it wasn’t any fun. Even though I didn’t play it well it was a fun hole and a pretty one at that. Although these were the two most noteworthy holes, each hole had its own character and beauty.
I felt right at home at Paso Robles Golf Club from the minute I drove up to the course. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Should you be in the Paso Robles area and looking for a game of golf on a great course, stop by and play the course. It is time that you took Paso Robles Golf Club off your “I Gotta Play That Course Someday” list. Like me, you will be glad that you took the time to play it.