Hurray for Hollywood! Affordable golf in Los Angeles

By February 14, 2011, 7:41 pm
Links at Terranea golf
                     The par-3 fourth at The Links at Terranea (Todd Eckenrode/Origins Golf Design)

LOS ANGELES – With the iconic 'Hollywood' sign looming in the distance and star tour buses beckoning tourists to hop on board after strolling on the Walk of Fame, it's often forgotten that the Los Angeles area offers one of the most diverse selections of golf in California.

Oceanfront links fade into golf courses in the forest, while some utilize natural surroundings for a links-style experience. Parkland layouts aren't far from mountain golf, and views range from Pacific panoramas to the downtown cityscape, or nothing but the great wide open.
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And just like its varying locale, green fee prices can be all over the map as well – up to $300 a round at some venues.

As a function of its location and history, it may be perceived that L.A. golf is a sport that can break the bank or requires connections. While in many cases it can, some of the area's greatest public courses can be had for $50 or less. While carts do cost extra at nearly every golf course, with a modest-priced round in the books, golfers can walk in the footsteps of some of golf's past champions and present players, while saving money for L.A.'s many off-course activities.

Historic municipal golf courses in Los Angeles

It's located literally in the middle of a concrete jungle, a little park-like oasis with neighborhoods, restaurants, high-rises and shopping areas surrounding the classic layout. This accessibility could be one reason why Rancho Park Golf Course is one of the busiest and most popular facilities not only in the state, but also in the entire U.S. The other reason? Its green fee caps out at around $48 during peak times, even less for residents.

Rancho Park's great value is complemented by its uniqueness, an aspect that is as much to its history as it is to its central location. At 6,600 yards, Rancho Park has hosted some of the golf world's most recognized events, such as the L.A. Open (now Northern Trust Open), the PGA Senior Open, and several LPGA events. It's the same golf course where Arnold Palmer took a 12 on the 18th hole during the 1961 L.A. Open; when asked how he shot 12, he answered, 'I missed my putt for an 11.'

Not far from Rancho Park, Griffith Park Golf Club's two regulation golf courses – the Wilson and Harding layouts – have been testing golfers since the mid-1920s. Located within Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., the golf club hosted the L.A. Open from 1937-39. Noted course architect George C. Thomas, Jr. designed Griffith Park's Wilson course and Harding course, and at $48 for non-residents, it's a great value for a piece of golf history.

Oceanfront opportunities in Rancho Palos Verdes

One of the few coastal gems of the Los Angeles area is Los Verdes Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, a stone's throw from the sand and with abundant ocean views. At only $33 during peak time, this par-71 William F. Bell design from the mid-1960s stretches to 6,631 yards and offers challenging greens thanks to the nearby Pacific Ocean. It also has a two-tiered driving range and a full bar and grill to tantalize golfers after a round.

If nine-hole golf is more your speed, the Los Angeles area's newest course presents arguably the most scenic par-3 experience around. The Links at Terranea is also in Rancho Palos Verdes. It's set within Terranea Resort, and each hole offers a view of the ocean from the area's closest point to Catalina Island. Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design drew inspiration from some of his favorite par-3 holes to develop The Links at Terranea, which runs up to $38 at peak times, but it's far from a pitch-and-putt course. Take every club in your bag for this test of golf, as ocean breezes can work against players. Afterward, head down to Nelson's at the Resort, located on the cliff above where the television series 'Sea Hunt' was filmed.

Head Southwest to Long Beach

Long Beach has been the stomping ground to a number of standout golfers. PGA Tour players John Merrick, John Mallinger and the newest 'Mr. 59' himself, Paul Goydos, were all groomed on the area's layouts and still consider the area their home base.

Goydos holds the course record at two of the most popular and wallet friendly layouts in Long Beach: El Dorado Park Golf Course ($49 walking) and Recreation Park Golf Course ($45 walking). El Dorado Park is located in Long Beach's famous regional park of the same name, and at 6,963 yards, is the current home of the Long Beach Open championship.

Designed by Ted Robinson, Sr., El Dorado is wide and friendly for the beginner, but from the back tees it brings a challenge with doglegs and water; the green on the first hole is protected by a creek, while 18 finishes up with a lake on the right. Goydos shot a 61 on the par-72 course, and while many big hitters chase that number, none have yet caught it.

Not far from El Dorado Park, William F. Bell's Recreation Park Golf Course held Goydos to a record 62 over its 6,280-yard layout. The golf course opened in the early 1940s and is one of the most popular in the area thanks to its mature trees, rolling fairways and playable yardages for all skill levels. It also runs only $45 at peak time, leaving some money for the golf course's full-service restaurant afterward. Don't forget to practice your short game at 'Little Rec,' Recreation Park's short course.

– by Katie Denbo

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.