River Ridge in Oxnard
...One Outstanding Golf Course Built on a Landfill

Story & Photos by: Ed Stone

Oxnard, CA--Playing River Ridge-East golf course is one excellent experience, but also one very big challenge.  Otto Kanny is the general manager of this club and never will you meet a person with more passion for his facility than he.  I had the opportunity to play a round with this fine gentleman recently.

 The Clubhouse at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard

River Ridge offers golfers of all skill levels a challenge by offering four sets of tees ranging from 5,362 yards to 6,777 yards. The course originally opened in 1986 however, the final development and layout came in 1994 when the course underwent a major renovation.  Five different sets of tees were laid out to create the design of the existing River Ridge-East golf layout in Oxnard, California, some 60 miles north of Los Angles.  Working backwards to set the tees and distances allows everyone a fair chance of getting to the greens in regulation.  Using the tee distances to create this beautiful course has only enhanced this popular layout originally designed by Billy Bell Jr. 

Otto Kanny, GM

This beautiful 18-hole layout is built on 230 acres of gently rolling terrain with much of it over a landfill and offering some very interesting antidotes - like the whale buried under the 16 green.  The signature hole is number 14, which is a 166-yard (white tees), par three with a large island green.  The green pretty much occupies the island and allows for very little grass to catch shots that do not stay on the green.  To the left of number 9 tee is the practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys when they call this city home during July and August of each year (the practices are open to the public too!).  Lastly, the number 12 and 14 holes offer two sets of tees for the ladies…with a 50-yard difference.  

Eight acres of water certainly provides any golfer with the challenge of taking the long shot or playing it safe and not risking a lost ball in the drink.  I would be remiss if I did not brag on the magnificent greens…they are perfect and putt true to form.

Number 11 green of River Ridge

River Ridge is constructing an additional 18 holes, River Ridge-West, with the first 9 holes scheduled to open in August 2004 and the final 9 holes to open in August 2005.  Nine of the new holes will provide vistas of the Topa Topa Mountains to the west.  The new course will also enjoy the winds from the Pacific Ocean that is less than five miles from River Ridge.

The signature hole on the new course will be number four.  This par 5, 550 yard layout features a lake for some 200 yards on the left beginning at the tee box.  Architect for the course is Sandy Lyle with John Millhouse of Strategic Golf Design in Birmingham, Alabama being the overall architect firm.

Most of the front nine to the new links will be part of a new upscale 427 single-family homes development.  The creative financing for this project calls for each home to contribute $10,650 towards the construction of the golf course as “enhancement to the property.”  These homes are selling for $400,000 to $800,000. 

The impressive clubhouse
Water creates hazzards on many of the holes at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard
The 11th hole

In addition to the superb playing conditions and layout, River Ridge offers a panoramic setting for wedding parties and other special events served by the professional banquet staff. I was very impressed with the pro shop and it’s courteous staff.  They carry all top-end lines and the learning center features the entire major club fitting systems including Callaway, Titliest, Nike and others. If you are looking for a golf lesson, there are four PGA professionals.

This club has all the latest in teaching and technology to improve your game with traditional lesson-tee instruction, video analysis, and on-course playing lessons.  Lee Martin is well noted and respected for his ability to instruct all ages and all skill levels of the game.

River Ridge has one of the best practice facilities in the area

River Ridge has superb practice facilities allowing golfers to improve all aspects of their game.  The golf club offers a huge lighted grass driving range, a 10,000 sq. ft putting green, and a complete short game practice area including a green and two bunkers.

The challenging putting green at River Ridge will really get your ready for those magnificent greens. The undulating 10,000 sq. ft surface is the perfect place to practice uphill, downhill, and breaking putts.

Kayaking is popular around Anacapa Island

Oxnard is a beautiful seaside city focused on agriculture but with a lot to offer any visitor.  Activities for all ages and interest are available.  Whether it is kayaking in the chill of an early morning fog, through caves and around kelp or exploring the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.  Specifically Anacapa Island.  A tiny island, at just five miles long and ¼ mile wide, Anacapa is endemic (unique) to some 150 to 170 species of plants and wildlife.  Just a short (less than an hour) boat ride from the uninhabited island of Anacapa is Oxnard.

California’s major industry became agriculture as the population of immigrants coming from the east coast and Europe grew.  In the late 1800’s, ranchers Albert Maulhardt and Johannes Borchard believed sugar beets would be a profitable crop for the area.  They created a business arrangement with Henry Oxnard who constructed a factory to process the harvests.  With a pledge of 18,000 acres of sugar beets from local farmers a factory was built in the heart of the rich fields. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a spur right to the factory site so the processed beets could be shipped to market.  The town that grew up around this facility became known as Oxnard.

Oxnard is known as the "Strawberry Coast"

Since then, agriculture has been big business in this fertile valley where most crops are harvested at least twice a year and sometimes more.  Popular weekly activities are the farmer’s markets held in the downtown Plaza Square and at the Channel Islands Harbor.  Originally, sugar beets were the primary cash crop, but today the strawberries reign and hence the area is called, “the Strawberry Coast.” 
The quick access to water and easy availability of harbors attracts boaters and other water sports adventurers.  The Channel Islands Water Taxi service offers a Progressive Dining Program, an excellent way of sampling the best eateries in the Harbor.  Five restaurants offer outstanding seafood, steaks, pasta, and vegetarian meals.  Select in advance the items you want at each location, and upon arrival, your meal is prepared and waiting. 

Museums of all kinds populate this seaside community.  The influence of water is seen in several museums that feature nautical themes.  The Ventura County Maritime Museum located in the Channel Islands Harbor complex is well worth a visit.  John Kelly, selected as one of the top 100 artists in America by American Artist Magazine currently has an outstanding twelve-piece suite on display called an “American Sea Odyssey.” 

Ventura County Maritime Museum

The Seabee Museum allows you to view World War II, Korean and Vietnam War exhibits with memorabilia including uniforms and weapons.  Port Hueneme Museum displays how working docks have changed over the years.  Many nice exhibits featuring antique bottles, rare shells and pioneer items are found here.

Just southeast of Oxnard, visitors can study the life and history of our 40th president, Ronald Regan at the Ronald Regan Library and Museum.  This museum is in Simi Valley and is a must see for its historical significance.
For art lovers, the beautiful and classical Greek architecture of the Carnegie Art Museum sets it apart from most galleries of this market size.  This museum is almost 100 years old and displays some of the best in regional and national art exhibits.

Children enjoy The Gull Wings Museum with lots of hands-on exhibits.  Features include everything from cooking lessons to a mock operating room and a space ship.  There are even animals!  A must see for young children.

Oxnard offers just about any kind of restaurant your taste buds will crave.  Of note the Cabo Seafood Grill & Cantina at 1041 South Oxnard Boulevard serves up the best seafood with Mexican flair that can be found, anywhere.  The great atmosphere is authentic Mexican and is locally owned by Pat & Peter Spink along with their friend, Art Garcia.  Another outstanding local dining establishment, especially for breakfast, is Uncle Herbs Restaurant located at 5141 South Saviers Road.  Healthy portions, more like heaping servings, Uncle Herbs conjures up very down-home feelings.

Oxnard offers a total of 1,700 rooms with a range of prices and 174 campsites at McGrath State Beach Park.  These accommodations features local and nationally known properties with meeting space and full-services such as the Radisson Hotel Oxnard (which is in transition to be a full service Marriott Courtyard in the Spring of 2004) and Embassy Suites, the only all-suite hotel in Southern California that sits directly on the beach. 

Heritage Square

History abounds in Oxnard.  To preserve some of the delicate and significant sites, Heritage Square was developed in 1985.  By relocating 11 turn-of-the-century houses, a water tower, a church, a pump house and a storehouse. Hosted tours are offered daily. 

Entertainment offerings in Oxnard include everything from the Petit Playhouse, to the Ventura County Symphony.  The Community Concert Series and the Channel Islands Ballet are also excellent.  Oxnard definitely appeals to all ages and interests.

Even late-night television host, Johnny Carson made mention during many of his monologue that the show was coming from downtown beautiful Burbank and the suburbs of Oxnard.  At one time, the local visitors bureau used the slogan, “Oxnard…more than just a pretty name.”  The name may not be as fancy as some destinations, but the hospitality and visitor appeal is most satisfying and enjoyable.

River Ridge Golf Club
2401 West Vineyard Avenue
Oxnard, CA 93030
Phone: 805-983-4653
Website: www.riverridge-golfclub.com

Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau
200 West Seventh Street
Oxnard, CA 93030
Phone toll free: 800-2-OXNARD (800-269-6273)
Phone: 805-385-7545
Website: www.oxnardtourism.com

Island Packers – To visit, make arrangements to visit Anacapa Island
Phone: 805-642-1393
Website: www.islandpackers.com

The Channel Island Kayak Center – To arrange for kayaking around Anacapa Island
Phone: 805-984-5995
Website: www.cikayak.com