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Tales From The Wacky World Of L.A. Muni Golf

As the Northern Trust Open lands in LA, it's probably not well known to most of the country that the area has a thriving and eccentric public golf scene.

Nice to see David Owen found it entertaining, particularly at Roosevelt Golf Course, which I do believe I steered him towards.Though I wouldn't have guessed witnessing a slow play brouhaha was one of the things he'd see:

I also liked Harding (where a member of my foursome made a hole-in-one). But my favorite Griffith course is Roosevelt. It has just nine holes, and most of them are short, but it's fun to play, and it's walking only, and the terrain and the views are dramatic. (From several spots, you can see the domes of the Griffith Observatory, which opened in 1935 on the park's highest point, the summit of Mount Hollywood.) I played one of my three nines there with Paul, who spoke more Korean than English; Lawrence, a former college baseball player and a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects; and Matthew, a young sales rep for a company that sells titanium screws and other trauma-related surgical supplies. Matthew was wearing scrubs, because he had come from a nearby hospital, where he had spent the morning teaching a surgeon to use one of his company's products. He didn't have to be back in the O.R. for a couple of hours, and his clubs were in the trunk of his car, so why not?

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Reader Comments (11)

Geoff - is not our muni golf scene thriving only because supply in the immediate metro area is far outweighed by demand? And if thriving, should not our municipal venues be reinvesting some proceeds back into the infrastructure instead of the neglect that is taking place? and simple conveniences like the onsiite pro shop should not need to be jettisoned? And finally, if thriving entails the 6 hour rounds that aren't uncommon at once fine venues like brookside, rancho, and Griffith then I can not wait for the golfing bust that has befell other parts of this savage land to make an appearance in la.

In the meantime I gladly sacrifice the extra 35 minute commute to a county north to play a venue that allows golf's serene and expedient virtues to thrive within the golfer that graces it fairways - plus the twelth hole gets better each time and may well be more open ended and yet equally vexing as a famous 10th that is certainly set apart from these wretched munis.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBouje
I echo Bouje's sentiments. I only play Wilson or Harding when it's raining (Angelenos are scared of the rain) and I absolutely refuse to ever play Rancho Park again (the best layout in town). Who has 6 hours to play golf?? Both places remind me of the spectacular Donald Ross gem I grew up playing in Canton, MA (Ponkapoag GC). At all of them, it's not uncommon to have a 4 group wait on the second tee and three groups on every par 3.

In addition to the slow play and 8 minute interval tee times, at the LA Muni's the marshals are non existent. I live in Burbank and to play Griffith or Rancho on a weekend, it's $62 if you ride and $50 if you walk. I can play Rustic Canyon or Robinson Ranch for that same money and never wait. Lately my foursome has been playing Tierra Rejada. Interestingly, a boring layout like Lost Canyons Shadow is actually playable these days for less money than the City Munis but they can't get anyone up there because A) you have to ride and B) it's such an annoying course in general. It's really being let go and I think will actually be shut down one of these days

Roosevelt is always a fun little track and the views are spectacular but with all the slow play, you may as well just play DeBell in Burbank and take 90% of the great views with 10% of the waiting.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike U (LA, CA)
Big Rec here I come!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Mike U - Robinson Ranch is a gem but can have crazy waits too but the Mountain course is worth it!

Brookside is good if you tee off before daylight lol so you have nobody in front. If not, that place can easily kill the day (while killing your wallet too).

02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJSP
We used to get up early, play a weekday nine holes at Griffith Park, and be at work at 9:30AM. Of course that was 40 years ago... before golf died :o)
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Played Brookside the day after Christmas this year. It stopped raining right as we pulled into the parking lot, and if we weren't the first group out, then the first group went out way before us. It was great. Pretty swampy, but I've never played Brookside with so little traffic, and I don't suspect I ever will again.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
I played a couple sub 330 rounds at encino this summer...midweek, afternoon, close to 100 no means a great layout, but at least the pace of play was solid.

The last time I play rancho was about 10 years ago...I got to the 7th tee and there were 4 foursomes waiting to tee took me 330 to play 9...I walked off after that. I had given up on the griffith park courses long before this round.

I had one incredible experience at Rancho about 15 years ago...a friend from NYC was in town and wanted to play golf in mdi-october/weekday. I suggested Rancho, wanting to show off the best LA could offer...we teed off at 2:00 pm and were finished at 5:20....I recall being on the 15th tee, and seeing no one was utterly bizarre, as it was a beautiful warm sunny day...almost twilight zone like. And like all good dreams, it never happened again :(

Personally, enjoy playing Holmby Park pitch and putt with my son - its a great place to learn, and terrific place to tune up your short game.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterManku
"it's not uncommon to have a 4 group wait on the second tee and three groups on every par 3. "

I thought golf was dead.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
A couple of summers ago, I played the shorter course at Brookside for the $21 or $22 twilight tee time with golf cart. We finished maybe 16 holes. We might've been one of the first twilight tee times, and it was in June or July.

One of these years, I'll try Roosevelt.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
There was another course named after a president tucked away in Griffith Park, named for Coolidge. It was shut around 1980, although I think lately it's been revived as the site of a golf school.

The extraordinary thing about places like Griffith Park and NYC's Central Park is the idea that town planners once set aside vast pieces of valuable land in the middle of cities for something like a park. Griffith Park must have been the backdrop for a thousand movies over the years.

Oh, the LA Open also teed off at Rancho for a few years. Somewhere on that course is a plaque to mark the place where in 1961 Arnold Palmer took a 12 after hitting four drives over a fence.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHod
Hod, that Plaque is on 18 at Rancho Park. If memory serves, Arnie hit four 3 wood's from the fairway over the fence trying to reach the green in two shots. These days that hole is reachable for most medium-long hitters with two good shots. It's just super tight with OB near the green.

I've never played Industry Hills but Geoff was talking on SOTG about it and how much he hated it. Now my desire to drive out and play it is gone. River Ridge is my next drive out of the City to play. I hear it's great.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike U (LA, CA)

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