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Seniors' Tour to Stop at Ojai Valley

February 02, 1989|RICH TOSCHES | Times Staff Writer

The Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club, which has entertained Hollywood celebrities--including Clark Gable and Lana Turner--for more than 50 years, will host legends from a different field in December. Legends named Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper and Chi Chi Rodriguez.

The 4 are expected to be among a field of 72 golfers in the GTE West Seniors Classic Dec. 1-3. The new site for the tournament was announced earlier this week. The event had been held at the Wood Ranch Country Club in Simi Valley for the past 2 years, but heavy winds both years caused many of the top players, including Palmer and Rodriguez, to complain about the conditions.

Tournament organizers had searched for a new home for the event since early in December. The North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks and the Lakeside Country Club in North Hollywood were offered the tournament, but the boards of directors at those clubs rejected the event.

Dick MacLean, vice president of a Hawaii-based consulting firm that headed the search for a new course for the tournament, said the Sandpiper Country Club in Santa Barbara had been considered a possible site for the 1989 tournament, but the Ojai course was finally selected.

Edward Libbey, a wealthy glass manufacturer, built the course in the 1920s. To accommodate spectators and television coverage of the event, the 2 sides of the course will be reversed for the tournament, with the pros playing holes 10-18 first. A course spokesman said details of a TV contract are not yet finalized.

The hilly course is lined with towering oak trees. It is a short par-70 course, measuring slightly less than 6,300 yards from the tournament tees.

The tournament attracted as many as 15,000 spectators per day when it was held in Simi Valley.

The inn at the Ojai course has 218 rooms and there are 7 small motels in the town. A single 2-lane road winds the 15 miles from Ventura to the golf course.

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