Aetna Springs Golf Course is a Public, 9 hole golf course located in Pope Valley, California.
Aetna Springs golf course first opened for play in 1892. The course is the course in California. Situated in the mountains with 2 creeks running through, the site is idyllic.
The course was designed by E.F. Mutton. Both Tom Doak and Jim Urbina had at different times redesigned/restored the course.
Aetna Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places and first welcomed visitors to its mineral springs in the late 1800s. Several historic structures near the springs are in the Arts-and-Crafts style, and noted architect Bernard Maybeck is believed to have designed at least one of the buildings. The nine-hole golf course was built in 1890.
For decades, the resort attracted visitors from around the region, as well as Hollywood celebrities and other notables. In 1966, Ronald Reagan chose Aetna Springs as the site where he announced his candidacy for governor.
In 1973, a firm called the ESI group bought the site and hoped to build 900 condominiums, but the county rejected that plan. Three years later, a business with ties to Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church acquired the resort and used it for religious retreats. It was rarely visited by the public thereafter, and in 1999 Pope Valley resident Bryant Morris leased the property. He sought to renovate Aetna Springs, but his plans ran afoul of county regulations. Morris placed a measure before county voters seeking the right to redevelop the resort but lost handily at the polls.
Morris subsequently bought the property anyway but was never able to get the business going. Current owners William Criswell and Radovan bought the property in 2006, preparing sites for homes, renovating the golf course and building a new clubhouse overlooking the course and mineral springs.
The remote location worked against the course. The vision was to become a destination course with resort accommodations and expansion to 18 holes. Napa County saw it differently and denied permits for building resort lodging. With fewer than 5,000 paid rounds in 2017, the course was not economically viable. The course closed in 2018.
$36 (cart included), played on Friday, August 2012 at 8am
I too used to play this course prior to its re-do by Tom Doak. Aetna Springs is now a truly hidden gem. It has to be considered one of the top nine hole courses in America. It is located in a beautiful setting, it is an outstanding test of golf, and it was well worth my journey to its remote location to play. Pro shop staff (Joel) is top notch, the reconfiguration by Doak is outstanding, and I highly recommend it.
$46 (cart included), played on Saturday, June 2010 at 10am
Everyone kept telling me the 9 hole Aetna Springs Golf Course was closed..... I called on a Tuesday to set up a starting time for Saturday, no one answer but an answering message asking me to leave my number. I got a phone call the next day and the gentleman told me the course is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. He told me it would be no problem to get the tee time I wanted which was 11:00. I had played Aetna back be it was a "cow pasture" a few years before it was renovated and actually enjoyed it. So needless to say when I heard it was going to renovated and lengthen somewhat, I was intrigued and checked in every so often to see the progress. I kept hearing about the problems the developers were having with the Napa County regulatory agencies and apparently they want to keep golfers interest so they reopened. The bentgrass greens are magnificent. The fairways are in good to great shape. The rough is tough, especially the second cut which is about 6" tall and very lush fescue grass. The layout is interesting and actually a bit short, 3057 yards from the blue tees, but challenging. The short Par 3 134 yard fourth is probably their signature hole, very nice design and almost no place to bailout. The sixth, a 395 yard dogleg right par four is interesting as the second shot from the fairway is blind but fair because the green is framed by two tall Oak trees that give you a place to aim. All in all I certainly hope Aetna Springs gets through problems with the county, because this course is a gem. It seems in this day when local governments need all of the tax dollars they can get, it seems silly to not let these businessmen proceed and add a serious chunk of change into the county's coffers.
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