Owned by Ventura County, Rustic Canyon, 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, costs only $35-$53 to play, making tee times hard to get. Lately,, the Alistair MacKenzie-inspired design has been operating as a 15-hole course since a January flood damaged parts of the front nine. Repair and restoration work were expected to return the entire course to play by July.
Some of the most innovative design work of late has taken place in out-of-the-way spots and often has involved talented people who are not (yet) household names. Consider Hanse, who co-designed Rustic Canyon with golf writer Geoff Shackelford. Hanse, 41, is Cornell educated, with a master's in landscape architecture. While at Cornell, he won the prestigious William Frederick Dreer Scholarship, allowing him to spend 1987-88 studying golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland. He then went to work for a previous Dreer scholarship winner, Tom Doak, a stint that included their collaboration on Stonewall Golf Club in Elverson, Pa., No. 61 on the Modern list. Since going out on his own more than a decade ago, Hanse has excelled at ground-hugging golf architecture and scruffy, traditional bunkers. He's done this not only with new courses like Rustic Canyon, but also with subtle restorations at such luminary Classic courses as Fishers Island (No. 11), Quaker Ridge (No. 28), Plainfield (No. 30), Fenway (No. 55), Lancaster (No. 71) and Ridgewood (No. 76).Hanse is not alone in hoping that old-school design has carved out a firm place in today's design market. "I can't tell if it's a niche," he said. "I'd like to think there's a more widespread appeal and that golfers are becoming more appreciative of what (Bill) Coore and (Ben) Crenshaw and Doak and we are trying to do."