California reality: A local's guide to public golf around Los Angeles

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 13, 2013, 5:00 am

Yes, there is plenty of public golf beyond the exclusive private clubs in Tinseltown. Los Angeles resident golf writer David Weiss shares where he plays around his hometown when he's not playing on the road.

Los Angeles golf was a bit of an oxymoron until about 20 years ago, when a spate of decent daily fee courses took their place between the over-played and scruffy munis and the untouchable private clubs that mere mortals only dream of playing -- especially L.A. Country Club and Riviera Country Club, the latter playing host to the Northern Trust Open on the PGA Tour.

All that has changed, thank the golf gods, and nowadays one can choose between a good double-handful of modestly priced tracks in the San Fernando Valley and Orange County when the green urge strikes. And fortunately, in an area where mild weather and copious sunshine are the norm, decent conditions rule, and business is steady for the canniest of the local operators.

At the top of that list is Moorpark's 6,988-yard Rustic Canyon Golf Club, a Gil Hanse design that has made its humble way into the august roster of best places to play by the national golf magazines. Part of the allure is in the course's fee structure: Walkers can play the course for around $40 on weekdays, and weekends only jump up to the mid-60s or so.

Cost aside, Rustic Canyon is simply a delight to negotiate, with its expansive fairways (70 yards wide on No. 1, a par 5) and smooth-rolling green complexes. Still, when the wind picks up in the early afternoon, canny club choice becomes a veteran player's ally, and the ability to hood shots and hit low runners is highly prized. RC's sandy soil and closely shaven bent-grass fairways allow one to putt from as far as 30 yards out, taking the stress out of half-wedge shots and the like.



The GolfNow Local Leaderboard: Top 10 rated golf courses in SoCal



Those in search of a little show-biz ambiance might want to test the slow-moving waters of Rancho Park Golf Course, a historic muni right across from 20th Century Fox studios. Rancho is one of the best city-run courses anywhere, albeit far too popular and stocked to the gills with well meaning amateurs.

A 1947 William P. Bell design (as are many of the area's best layouts), it was home to 18 Los Angeles Opens and features a plaque commemorating a 12 that Arnold Palmer carded in 1961 on the par-5 ninth hole (now the 18th). Arnie hit four drives out of bounds that fateful day.

A half-hour north of the city is Angeles National Golf Club, advertised as the 'only Nicklaus Design golf course in Los Angeles County.' The fact that the architect was Gary and not Jack himself matters little -- it is one of the best new 18 holes to have come along in decades.

The greens roll fast and true, the fairways are hard and narrow, and there are forced-carries galore. They have a great driving range and practice facility, and the setting in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest is unmarred by hideous housing. It ain't cheap, but when Angeles National is in shape, it's a great place to play.

Speaking of great greens, the 36-hole Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita (about 40 minutes outside of L.A. proper) is known high and wide for the quality of their putting surfaces. Also perched next to the Angeles National Forest, both Robinson Ranch's Valley Course and Mountain Course are carved out of 400 acres of sage and chaparral, and offer some of the best views of any course in the area.

Both tracks are eminently playable, unless you count the six finishers on the Valley Course, where designers Ted Robinson (Jr. and Sr!) fashioned a narrow labyrinth of holes dubbed 'Death Row.' Bring a canteen, and watch out for rattlers.

If you're one of the brave souls willing to ford the molasses-like traffic of the fabled 405 freeway, you might want to make your way down to the Resort at Pelican Hill, where 36 holes of inspired Tom Fazio golf await the player willing to handsomely pay the piper for an oceanside location and immaculate conditions.

General Manager Steve Friedlander runs a great operation, combining unparalleled customer service with one of the best pieces of golf real estate in California. In the mood for true pampering? Check in at the five-star resort and hang your golf cap for a few days. Then hope you win the lottery to compensate for the extravagance.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: