Looking at it now, you’d be hard-pressed to find where the original Rams Hill Golf Club began and ended. It was just six years ago that the sprinklers were turned back on, breathing life into a course that had surrendered itself to the financial crisis, and, eventually, Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert.
But on January 18, 2021, it was bursting with life as 80 golfers found their way to the new version of Rams Hill. The one where swaths of pure bentgrass interrupt sand, shrubbery and strategically placed bunkering. The one which forces you to think hard about who exactly thought golf could grow here, let alone flourish. The version that you just have to go play.
With this in mind, the day’s itinerary called for 27 holes before dark. Over the first 18, two-person teams split time between better ball and shamble formats. For the final nine holes, tee boxes were rearranged to create a modified, alternate-shot par-3 routing. Every inch of the course was explored, with contours and pins attacked with different clubs and different angles throughout the day.
The format was apparently enough to entice Luis “The Tuna” Sanchez to travel all the way from Mexico City without a partner. Mackenzie Maynard did the same from Los Angeles, mere weeks after discovering TGJ (and our events page). The two were randomly paired on-site and left for their respective homelands with 2nd Place Net honors.
Others, like Eric Sawall and Cody Gascoigne, needed no time to build chemistry. The Orange County natives blitzed the first 18 for a 64 (-8) and cruised down the alternate-shot stretch en route to a stress-free, three-shot victory. Their only concern? “How do we carry these trophies down to Punta Mita with us?”
The other myriad highlights included industry titans John Ashworth and Matt Ginella kicking things off with the lone birdie on No. 1. And Minnesotan Patrick Jacobsen’s 80-foot bomb in the dark—just moments before the evening sprinklers chased him home. But scores and anecdotes aside, all travelling parties will agree: The real winner was Rams Hill.
Fresh off a year where adversity seemed more a way of life than an unfortunate phase, there was no better place to start again than Rams Hill. For if this splendid setting for golf can rise from the death grip of the desert floor, then we too can dust ourselves off and charge forward.