PGA Commissioner Deane Beman said that he hopes to bring major golf tournaments to a proposed Tournament Players Club high in a remote area of eastern Ventura County, with possible events including the Los Angeles Open on a regular basis and even an occasional U. S. Open.
Beman on Wednesday formally announced plans for the project, which would feature only the 13th TPC or stadium course in the nation, along with 1,848 homes. The price tag for the project is estimated at more than $500 million, with funding provided by the PGA and Potomac Investments Associates of Maryland. Ultimately, Beman said, the PGA would own the golf course outright.
Preliminary plans for the project, which would take from three to six years to complete once construction began, have been submitted to the Ventura County Planning Department. All plans must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors. The area designated for the development is a 2,300-acre parcel located about four miles south of Simi Valley. The property, known as China Flats or Jordan Ranch, is owned by entertainer Bob Hope and is classified as open space in Ventura County's land-use plan.
"It's a naturally spectacular piece of ground for a golf course," Beman said.
Also attending the news conference in Westlake Village was professional golfer Corey Pavin of Oxnard, winner of six PGA Tour events, including this year's Bob Hope Classic and the Hawaiian Open. Pavin would serve as a consultant on the design of the stadium course that would feature high grassy knolls around most tees and greens to provide natural viewing areas for large numbers of spectators.
"The course will run through a spectacular canyon," said Pavin, who has been on a walking tour of some of the property. "It will be a wonderful stadium course. The edges of the canyon are already very stadium-like, perfect places for people to sit and watch golf tournaments."
Beman avoided talking about specific tournaments that he would like to see played at the proposed course but did address a question about recent rumblings by members of the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, home of the L. A. Open. Many members of that club are vehemently opposed to the continued use of the course for the tournament.
"This new course will be a real viable alternative if problems arise at Riviera with its members in opposition to future L. A. Opens," Beman said. "I won't discuss specifics, but this new course will give us an option on that tournament.
Pavin said that in addition to a regular tournament such as the L. A. Open, he would like to see one of golf's four major tournaments played there.
"This will be a course we can definitely play a major event on," Pavin said. "This will be a U. S. Open-type course."
Beman said figures were not available but that the other 12 stadium courses and clubhouses built since 1980 have cost between $8 and $15 million. Peter Kyros, project manager for Potomac Investments Associates, said the price tags on the 1,848 homes would begin at more than $250,000 and "rise from there."
Beman said membership at the private golf club would be offered to some of the homeowners. In addition, members at the other 12 TPC courses also would be tendered open invitations to play at the new course. The other TPC courses have between 400 and 700 members, Beman said. He would not speculate on the cost of a membership at the proposed course.
The course would be only the second stadium course in California. PGA West in La Quinta, near Palm Springs, was built in the early 1980s. The first TPC course was built in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and now plays host to the prestigious Tournament Players Championship each year.
Beman and Kyros both said they expect opposition to the planned project, including strong environmental protests. The 2,300-acre site is known to have a population of golden eagles, deer, falcons and mountain lions.
"We know we must prove our worth to the community," Beman said. "A good neighbor must prove he will be a valuable asset to a community, and we intend to do that. Economic studies from other tournaments show an economic impact on a community for just one big golf tournament to be somewhere between $25 and $75 million.
"Anyone building anything anywhere in this country today must be concerned with environmental factors. We think the number of positive aspects to this project will make a lot of sense in the final decision."