Shortened “Course Within a Course” Attracts Players to California Club

“The Players Course” at Tierra Rejada Golf Club, with new forward tees and wide landing areas, drew 1,000 rounds in August.

“The Players Course” at the Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, Calif., which opened earlier in the summer after being designed to appeal to recreational, senior and younger players learning the game hosted more than a thousand rounds in the month of August, club officials report. With strategically placed new Green Tee boxes, wide landing areas and a liberal set of local rules to speed up the game and make it more fun, the 5,600-yard layout is essentially a shortened, “course within a course” version of Tierra Rejada’s challenging Bob Cupp design, which measures more than 7,000 yards from the tips.

“We want to do our part to keep people in the game, and to encourage others to take up the game for the first time,” says Ted Kruger, developer and co-owner of Tierra Rejada Golf Club, which feels it is the first golf club in a major market to offer such a “course within a course” alternative.

For an annual fee of $125, golfers can join “The Players Club” at Tierra Rejada, which allows members to play “The Players” Course with a $49 greens fee (with cart included) Monday through Friday, and $80 greens fee – cart also included – on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. There is also a twilight fee of $60.

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“We think that what we’re doing with ‘The Players Course’ will be a model for golf courses everywhere, not only for making the game more fun, but also as a way to speed up play and increase business,” Kruger says. “With ‘The Players Course’ we offer something that people will want to return to over and over, and at a great value.”

Originally opened in 1999, Tierra Rejada is well known for its natural beauty, with views of the Reagan Presidential Library. Architect Cupp made the original layout a stout test for low-handicap golfers, with long shots over ravines and lakes. By creating new Green Tees and establishing “The Players Course” as a distinct and different option from The Champion’s Course, Tierra Rejada has taken those forced carries over lakes and ravines out of play.

The new local rules also enhance playability, scoring and pace-of-play. For example, should a golfer hit an errant shot into an unplayable area, penalty strokes will be minimized and drop areas have been designed to make this possible.

While players are not obligated to use these rules, they are in the spirit of keeping the game fun. “It’s frustrating enough if you’ve just lost a golf ball in a water hazard or natural area,” Kruger says. “Why penalize a beginning or senior golfer two strokes? Golf should be fun and scores should be lower, which is what ‘The Players Course’ is all about.

“We accept the fact that a large number of those who play our championship course come away feeling a bit beat up,” he adds. “Golf is experiencing less frequency from average golfers, and is losing older players because of difficulty. Who the heck ever said that golf shouldn’t be fun?”

Tierra Rejada has also started an invitation-only program for junior student-athletes, called the Tierra Rejada Advanced Players Program (TRAPP). In exchange for access to the course, TRAPP members must work alongside Tierra Rejada employees as they perform day-to-day tasks involved with running a golf course. This could mean working in the pro shop, on the driving range, or with a grounds crew.

Further, to test and sharpen their course-management and decision-making skills, program participants are required to complete what’s known as “The Players Course Challenge.” Before they’re allowed to play from longer Tierra Rejada tees, TRAPP participants must register a cumulative 50 under par on “The Players Course,” no matter how long it may take. Once that score is achieved, TRAPP players graduate to the white tees, where again they must register a cumulative 50 under par before moving back to the blue tees.