Palmer Designing Course in Southern California

By: Mark Leslie

Having declared the property for the Los Valles golf community "a setting for golf at its finest," Arnold Palmer will soon be able to see the proof of his pronouncement.

Mass grading is underway at the Hasley Canyon site where the golf icon, whose company has designed more than 300 golf courses around the world, is creating his first Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course in greater Los Angeles.

The Palmer course is the cornerstone for a 433-acre community featuring 209 custom home sites starting at $600,000 to over $1 million. Sales and marketing manager Dave Williams called the views of Santa Clarita Valley from the home sites "incredible," and added that amenities for members will include tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, swimming pool and community buildings.

"We hope to capture what is special about this place . . . with holes that are adjacent to, or run though canyons, valleys, lakes and meadows," Palmer said of the property, which is being developed by David Chapman, who helped create The Tradition in LaQuinta; Dan Palmer of Palmer Investments; and Bill Kubly, chief executive office of Landscapes Unlimited, which is building the golf course.

Palmer's lead architect on the project, Vicki Martz, called the Los Valles property "intimidating and rather challenging because of the very thing that makes it exciting: its dramatic changes in elevation."

Citing its 400-foot elevation change from mountaintops to valleys, Martz said one of the most challenging tasks is to comply with Palmer's strong desire to avoid "penal" golf and blind hazards. "I have a feeling it's going to be a lot of hands-on, touch-and-feel work to get the look we want," she added.

Martz said the elevations are so precipitous in some places that major earth-moving is required to put in homesites. Among the challenges she cited are laying a golf course on the property that will be wide enough and playable enough for the eventual 375 private club members; and managing stormwater drainage off the hillsides.

Capturing the stormwater and moving it through the property gives Martz the opportunity to create a variety of water features that will meander throughout the golf course. "We've designed several water features and will create excitement with waterfalls," Martz said.

The mass-grading should be completed in time for Landscapes Unlimited to begin earth-moving for the golf course in August and shaping holes in September. Williams said he expects the front nine holes to be grassed next January, the back nine will be grassed six to eight months later, and the club will be ready to open in March 2009. He added that 30 to 40 home lots will be available for delivery by the end of this year.

Chapman, who has also collaborated with Landscapes Unlimited several times, said the design guidelines for the custom residences of Los Valles, as well as the community buildings such as the clubhouse, "will result in architecture of the highest standards, and the most honored traditions of California living."

Like the land itself, it will convey a sense of history and tradition, he said. The Los Valles Company will sell 375 memberships, starting at $40,000 apiece. Only 34 of the home lots will not front the golf course. For more information, call the Los Valles Sales and Marketing office at 661/295-3900, or visit