Sweeping ocean views mark the Wyndham Pierpont Inn in nearby Ventura.


Sweeping ocean views mark the Wyndham Pierpont Inn in nearby Ventura.

Ventura: The Pierpont Inn, Olivas Links

A Salt-Water Tolerant Course; a Commentary on the U.S. Open Site Choice

This summer you will no doubt have friends and family looking to visit. Finding a reasonable hotel for them in town can be very challenging and costly. I would take a look at the Wyndham Pierpont Inn on the bluffs of Ventura with a commanding ocean view. No one staying here will complain about the drive up with the Pacific in full view.

The Hotel

The Pierpont Inn has long been a fixture with its unique setting. Years ago I had actually been in a wedding here and was looking forward to returning. The property encompasses a private bluff overlooking all of Ventura State Beach with the Channel Islands usually in view. The lushly landscaped setting reminds one of the Pebble Beach area and even has the same Cypress pines along with large eucalyptus trees. The private-club feel here makes it very popular for weddings and other large events. I found the atmosphere to be just as pleasant as my first visit some 30 years prior.

There is a large variety of choice on the rooms, ranging from traditional rooms to more historic accommodations. All have been tastefully upgraded to give guests the latest in electronics and comfortable bedding. The quaint outdoor pool area also has a modern fitness center.

Austen’s is the signature restaurant at the hotel and offers ocean-view dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had dinner just before sunset, and the setting was very relaxing. Wood floors and paneling throughout the restaurant along with the memorabilia on the walls gave it a true nautical feel. Our entrées of Atlantic salmon and habanero lime sea bass were expertly prepared, and the service was also first rate.

The Golf

Just a 10-minute drive from the Pierpont Inn you will find some of the best public access golf in the state. Olivas Links would be my first pick. This course was completely remodeled a decade ago, and the results have been stunning. The most amazing result has been the overall condition of the facility. They implemented paspalum grass, which can be irrigated with sea water. I first saw the use of this grass at Mauna Lani in Hawaii and the results are amazing. As a result Olivas Links is the best-conditioned public course in Southern California. The layout is also good and fits the often windy afternoon conditions at this location.

The City of Ventura is to be commended for getting this right at Olivas Links. This remodel will last for decades, and the all-important water issue has been solved. At the same time the Buenaventura Golf Course was also redone with equally player-friendly results. The only thing needed at these two venues, especially Olivas, is a clubhouse to match the setting.

U.S. Open Golf

The choice of Chambers Bay as host of this year’s U.S. Open is certainly going to be scrutinized, as will the TV coverage on Fox. There are so many great golf courses in the Pacific Northwest, it is a shame that the USGA didn’t pay homage to this great golf region by picking one of their best tracks. The setting at Chambers Bay is spectacular and well worth a day of your time, but that does not mean it is right for our Open. The site selection process has become very political and a detriment to the history of this great championship.

Even worse was having Fox Sports cover the event. I thought Greg Norman was good, but the rest of the team was not up to the task. Using the same announcers for other sports and dressing them up with ex-pros with little TV experience did not work. Somehow, the three-pack-a-day voice of Tim Brando does not fit golf. Nor does the monotone corporate delivery of Jack Buck. Boy, do I miss Johnny Miller, Dottie Pepper, and Roger Maltbie. Chambers Bay, due to the brown look of the grass, did not look good on TV. It is okay once a year to see this at the British Open, but not our U.S. Open. By not returning to historic Open sites, the USGA is forgetting its rich history.

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