If there were such a thing as a golfer's hell, every hole would be about a mile long with a lake on one side and a row of trees on the other. The green would be surrounded by sand traps bigger than my apartment building and the putting surface would probably move in ripples. I thank the powers that be that no such holes actually exist in Ventura County, although there are a few that seem close. These are my "holes from hell."
* River Ridge, Hole No. 1: 395 yards, par 4
It's a rotten starting hole with a huge drainage swale dominating the fairway. Maybe it wouldn't be so tough if it were in the middle of the course and I had a chance to warm up. I never get better than a double bogey. Today I take a 6.
* Simi Hills, Hole No. 6: 417 yards, par 4
The second shot will probably end up in sand. The green is well-guarded with bunkers. I am having muscle spasms. Give me an 8.
* Buenaventura, Hole No. 14: 144 yards, par 3
The green is dinky and hard. The wind is in my face. Water surrounds three quarters of the green. I put one in the drink and for good measure I put in another. My playing partner, punk rocker Derf Scratch, finds this quite amusing. He gets a 4. I take a 6.
* River Ridge, Hole No. 4: 586 yards, par 5
It's very long with a huge swale in front of the green. I always lay up in front of the swale to be safe, but it still ends up being a poke of about 170 yards to the green, which is domed and tough to hold. Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee takes a 6. I get a double bogey. Rockers 2, Reporter 0.
* Los Robles, Hole No. 7: 446 yards, par 4
It's a long way and the fairway is fairly narrow. I end up on the wrong fairway but manage to avoid the lake at the front of the green. I lose my ball when one of the hordes of golfers on the course whacks it without checking it first. I take a bogey 5.
* Elkins Ranch, Hole No. 9: 416 yards, par 4
It doglegs around a lake and has out-of-bounds markers everywhere else. I am anticipating the cheeseburger at the turn and shank one into the parking lot. The ball heads straight for the snack bar. Next time I'll just write my order on the ball to save time. Give me a 7 and pass the ketchup.
* Soule Park, Hole No. 7: 568 yards, par 5
A big tree guards a dogleg. Most people think they can hit the ball through this huge, barren tree. I know better. I go around it and lay up in front of the lateral water hazard. My intelligent play still only gets me a bogey. Give me a 6.
* Olivas Park, Hole No. 16: 398 yards, par 4
A normal person would lose a ball in the lake. Trying to be different, I lose one in the middle of a palm tree. Another 7.
* River Ridge, Hole No. 14: 191 yards, par 3
The dreaded island green is even more dreaded when the wind is blowing. But this one presents no problems because the green is fairly large. Give me a par 3. Whew.
Front nine total: 55
* Saticoy, Hole No. 14: 536 yards, par 5
It doglegs left around a cliff, so if you duck-hook your ball, don't bother looking for Mr. Titleist. I manage to stay on the fairway but I putt like a dog. I'll take a bogey. . . .
* North Ranch (Valley), Hole No. 2: 412 yards, par 4
This is a brutal hole obviously designed by a sick person. Even if you hit the perfect tee shot there is the prospect of having to hit a long-iron or fairway wood through a 20-yard chute of trees to a green guarded by an intimidating bunker. If I play this hole a billion times I will never hit the green in regulation. Give me a 6.
* North Ranch (Lakes), Hole No. 8: 239 yards, par 3
It's a long, long way to the green. And there's a lake with cascading waterfalls immediately in front of the putting surface. I am so happy to hit the green with a three-wood that I proceed to three-putt. Oh well. Score a 4.
* Ojai Valley Inn, Hole No. 4: 442 yards, par 4
It curves left around a big-league barranca. The green is elevated with traps surrounding it. My monster drive is followed by a duff into the barranca. I discover that hitting a ball while standing on rocks while wearing steel spikes is not a smart thing to do. Chi Chi Rodriguez birdied this hole. I do too . . . then go on to take an 8.
* Saticoy, Hole No. 2: 354 yards, par 4
It's not very long, but it's best if the driver stays in the bag. The hole is narrow and doglegs around and through about a zillion eucalyptus trees. Bogey 5.
* Wood Ranch, Hole No. 5: 408 yards, par 4
There's more sand on this hole than at San Buenaventura State Beach. It lines both sides of the fairway and surrounds the green. I somehow avoid the pesky stuff and sink a 20-foot putt for par.
* Sherwood, Hole No. 2: 512 yards, par 5
The No. 1 handicap hole follows a creek on the right and a hill on the left. I avoid both of these and meet up with a green surrounded by water and bunkers. I feel good about a 6.
* Saticoy, Hole No. 10: 178 yards, par 3
It's about a 200-foot drop from tee box to green, so the hardest part is trying to figure out what club to hit, especially with the wind blowing. There may be harder holes to score well on, but this one intimidates. I smack one and hope it comes down close to where it is supposed to. I take a 4.
* Sherwood, Hole No. 18: 427 yards, par 4
One of the finest finishing holes in golf has you driving blind through a chute. Once on the fairway you get the grand view of a regal clubhouse with a beautiful green sitting in front, surrounded by water and sand. I try not to be distracted by the grand spectacle, but end up in a very deep bunker anyway. Give me a 5.
Back nine total: 48
Grand total: 103. Yikes.