Soule Park, located in Ojai California, is really what public golf should be about in the 2020s. An affordable public course that challenges your golf game by maximizing the topography while not being too overwhelming as to cause you conniption fits and give up the game entirely. In other words, it is a balanced course that offers something for everyone.
The course looks pretty flat from the road but don't let those looks fool you. One of Soule's strength's is giving you multiple different looks off the tee. Both the first and tenth holes feature significant elevation
and there are several forced carries which forces the golfer to pay attention off the tee.
What really piqued my interest about Soule was not the interesting routing, the fun green complexes nor the general Ojai vibe (which is truly a plus for any round played in that area). No, instead, I really dug the fairway bunkers and hazards. This course clearly took some design cues from the Golden Age courses and aded some really great looking, and treacherous, fairway bunkers. I loved these things!
Also, I am sucker for railroad car-type mounding in fairways. The inverse of a bunker but just as interesting to try and navigate, not too many courses have these but I wish they did!
The framing of the course off the tee, the fairway hazards and the green complexes all ask the golfer questions which require intentionality throughout the round rather than just blasting away and trying to overwhelm the course with length/strength. Too often, I see courses where you just hit away off the tee and only have to start grinding close to the green, that isn't the case here.
Soule Park isn't all peaches and cream. The last 3 holes are pretty uninspiring due to their flat, parkland routing. It reminded me a bit of Monarch Beach where if you just changed the routing, you could get the boring holes out of the way first and then build to the really special holes.
My amateur golf architecture rant aside, Soule Park really is a solid course that will engage different aspects of your golf game over multiple rounds, which is all you can ask from a public course in this day and age. If you are ever in Ojai, this plus a round at the Valley Inn will give you one of the best golf weekends you could ask for in SoCal.
For more info on Soule Park, check out the link! https://www.soulepark.com/