Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Journey Comes to an End

I have spent the past seven months of my life traveling around and playing par 3 and executive golf courses in the Los Angeles area. I didn't expect there to be so many places to play in this great city.

I have played all 41 public courses in the Los Angeles area at 39 locations, 477 different golf holes and driving a total of 1,842 miles in the process. As far as I am aware I am the first and only person to play at every one of these locations and document the courses in the process.

This all started as I enjoyed playing short golf courses, but had an issue finding information and pricing on courses. There was no central location with the information shared. I thought I would set up this blog and share the information with fellow golfers. I anticipated there being about 10-15 courses in the LA area when I started out. However as I did research and found new places, it ended up being 41! Sometimes I went outside the LA area, but in general the majority of the courses reviewed are within 15-20 miles of downtown Los Angeles.

There are several hidden gems - courses I found which are not widely publicized online and only really known by locals. You will discover these as you read through the site and reviews posted. There is also a map in the right sidebar which will lead you to a Google map with all of the locations highlighted for your convenience.

I am proud to have finally completed this challenge which I set myself earlier this year. It took many hours of my spare time to travel, play and document all of the courses. But I had a lot of fun and met a lot of new people in the process. Now I turn this website over to you to use as a reference. Please feel free to add any comments to the courses or posts and help share information within the community.

I hope you enjoy all of the documented information and playing the courses as much as I did.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Recreation Park 9 Golf Course - Executive (Long Beach)


5000 E. 7th St.
Long Beach, CA 90804
(562) 438-4012

9 holes (par 31)
Yardage: 1,865 yards
Hours: sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week
Green fees: Weekdays $16 , Weekends $19.50

Recreation Park is located in Long Beach. There are two golf courses there; a regulation 18 hole (Rec Park 18) and a 9 hole executive (Rec Park 9 - also known as 'Lil Rec). This review is of the 9 hole executive golf course. The course is located off 7th St. If you are heading west you will first see Rec Park 18 on the right and then Rec Park 9 will be about 200 yards further down the road on the left. Note, that it is a different location, different parking lot, different starter etc. There is a small pro shop, putting green and chipping area, but no driving range at this particular location.

As executive courses go this is on the shorter side - 1,865 from the blue tees. Each hole has two tee boxes and the white tees are a lot closer and make the holes not as challenging. I noticed that on the scorecard there were yardages for black tees. However out on the course there were no black tees present.

The course itself has a nice flow and design. You play the first 5 holes and then cross a street to play the remaining 4 holes. There is good variation of holes which mean you can use every club in the bag. There are also nice elevation changes within each hole. I found the course was pretty straightforward to play and not as challenging as some. The holes were generally wide with expansive fairways. There were some trees, but not a whole bunch compared to other courses.

Two holes which stood out for me were 5 and 7. Hole 5 is a downhill par 4, 343 yards. It looks nice from the tee box and has large well placed bunkers. Hole 7 is the only hole on the course with a water hazard. It is a par 4, 323 yards. From the blue tee box you have to hit over a lake. You probably need to carry about 125 yards to clear the water. You also need to keep left. If you hook it right you may also find water. If you play from the white tee box, you eliminate the water.

The course had several well placed bunkers throughout. Some of the bunkers were deep and all had good quality sand. The sand was not really dense like a lot of other courses in the area. The greens were large and had slopes/ breaks which made putting interesting. They ran a little on the fast side, but not crazy fast.

The overall condition of the course was very good. There were a higher than average number of pitch marks on the greens, but over than that the course was fine. The pace of play was fair. We were stuck behind a girls high school tournament. However we still managed to complete the 9 holes in 2 hours. There are electric carts available, however we walked and everyone else on the course seemed to be walking also. There are good rates available to play at this course which available through the usual online vendors. We paid just $8 to play, which is a lot less than the published rate. They also do a special during the week (I think after 5pm). $5 to play, $5 for a cart and $5 for two beers.

They seem to pair people up and send out four-ball's. So if there are just a couple of you, be prepared to be playing with a couple of others. We were paired with a couple of colorful older guys. One of which seemed to have a liking of White Russian's and became more inebriated as the round went on. I must admit, first time I have seen someone drink a White Russian while playing golf! It is advisable to make a tee time or call in advance. They seem to have a lot of various tournaments going on. I was initially going to play on a certain Saturday, but was told the whole day was booked up with an event.

Richie says... "Very nice golf course with an interesting course design. It is over an hour drive from where I located, so I would probably not play this course again for logistical reasons. People in the Long Beach area are spoiled with options. You have this course, Heartwell, Navy Cruiser and Bixby Village. All four courses probably make my top 10 of all courses in the Los Angeles area".


Hole by Hole


Hole 1 - 254 yards (par 4)
Hole 1 - 2nd shot (80 yards out)
Hole 2 - 249 yards (par 4)
Hole 2 - 2nd shot (100 yards out)
Hole 3 - 92 yards
Hole 4 - 161 yards
Hole 4 - green
Hole 5 - 343 yards (par 4)
Hole 6 - 147 yards
Hole 7 - 343 yards (par 4)
Hole 8 - 130 yards
Hole 9 - 166 yards

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Top 5 Par 3 & Executive Courses in the L.A. area

So having played them all, here is my top 5.

I have taken into account several factors, which include course design, course condition, value for money and how busy the course is.

1. Scholl Canyon
18 hole executive golf course. It has it all - fun course design, great value for money and amazing views of the whole LA basin. For me it is the best.

2. The Links at Terranea
9 hole par 3 golf course. The best maintained course in the LA area. It is immaculate and gives the feeling of the PGA Tour. Prices are high, but good deals on cheap tee times can be found online.

3. Marriott Manhattan Beach
9 hole par 3 golf course. Interesting course design, with elevation changes and lots of water! Above average condition.

4. Weddington
9 hole par 3 golf course. I have played here probably more than any other course. I have an enjoyable time and good experience every time I come here. The course is well maintained and never overly busy. You may even spot a celebrity, like Larry David; who uses the range here to practice often.

5. Vista Valencia
18 hole, executive golf course. Well maintained and interesting course design - hole 17 is the highlight and the best hole in the Los Angeles area. You hit off an elevated tee onto an island - aka... 17th at Sawgrass. This course is long and more geared to those who like to hit it far.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post - How to Stop Topping the Ball in Golf



One of the greatest challenges of the complex sport of golf revolves around the point in a golfer’s swing when they make contact with the ball. Striking a tiny white ball with a metal club takes not only proper technique, but premeditated focus. A common issue that inhibits golfers from getting the score they desire is that of topping the ball. 

When the club face comes down toward the ball in the latter part of a swing, there are many factors that determine how successful the shot will be. A primary one is impact; and when a golfer tops the ball, this contact is directly compromised.

Below are ways that a golfer can efficiently connect with the ball and avoid one of the more frustrating situations in the sport. From there, scores will drop and the player will find more success on the links.

Trust the design of your selected club
Golf clubs are designed in a way that if a golfer swings properly, accurate trajectory and distance will be realized.  Too many golfers try to guide a shot with their swing motion − and this isn’t the right way to approach the game. The moment a golfer tries to adjust trajectory during a swing, their impact is immediately impacted. 

Sure, a short pitch swing from five yards off the green will be different than a drive on a par five, but the principle is the same. If a golfer is taking a full swing, it should not fluctuate too much based on club. If a player tries to adjust their swing mid-shot, they will often top the ball simply because they’re making a difficult shot even more challenging.

The takeaway: A golfer needs to trust the club that they select for a given shot. When a golfer believes in their club, they’re able to maintain consistent swing mechanics throughout a round. Each club is especially designed to provide the distance and trajectory needed for that particular shot. This is the reason it is critical to become familiar with, and trust, club design.

Keep your knee flex stable
Sometimes, especially during chips, a swing comes all from the knees. And if the flex changes throughout a stroke motion, a golfer will often end up topping the ball. Even those playing at competitive levels tend to straighten their legs just before ball impact in their downswing. This results in pulling your club, which inevitably increases your odds of grazing the hit.

Picture courtesy of Keith Allison
This happens even more in the later stages of a round when fatigue sets in. As legs get tired, legs aren’t able to hold a stable flex. It can be hard to keep form during later rounds, which is why performance tends to flag for golfers who have endurance issues. Remaining conscious of good form and forcing a consistent swing can help during these fatigued rounds.

The takeaway: Keeping knee flex consistent throughout a round is directly correlated to consistent club-ball impact. Striking the ball accurately takes focus as well as proper fundamentals, and keeping the knees flexed in the same position on each swing can greatly improve your score. 

Weight transfer should swing toward front foot
Especially when a golfer is playing timid or lacking confidence, he or she will occasionally lean back and fail to demonstrate adequate weight transfer throughout a swing motion. These same golfers often top the ball. The swing motion, and also the weight of the golfer, must transfer to the front foot in sync with the follow through. Relocating the weight in this manner allows an even stroke that impacts the ball evenly through the downswing. 

The takeaway: The simplest advice for this issue is that a golfer needs to approach each stroke with physical and mental confidence. By doing so, a golfer is able to evenly lean into their shot and adjust their weight in direct correlation with club motion. 

No one likes to top a golf ball. It’s frustrating, and potentially ruinous to your score. With focus and confidence in your swing, you can minimize the odds of this happening.
Scott McCormick writes for Golf Now San Diego

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crazy Mini Golf Hole - Lilliputt, CO.

While surfing the net I randomly came across this video. This mini golf hole is located at Lilliputt Mini Golf Course in Grand Lake, CO. If you look at the time on the video, the ball travels for almost 60 seconds before reaching the green.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

El Cariso Golf Course - Executive (Slymar)

13100 Eldridge Street
Sylmar, CA 91342
(818) 367-6157

18 holes (par 62)
Yardage: 4,496 yards
Hours: sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week
Green fees: Weekdays $23, $30.25 on weekends and holidays

El Cariso is a 18 hole executive golf course located in Sylmar, CA and is a County of Los Angeles operated golf course. The course is off Hubbard Street and is next to the Mission College campus. There is adequate parking and in addition to the course, there is a driving range, putting green and a bar/ grill.

 As it is a county course there are no cheap tee times available on third party websites. However if you play after 2pm you can get twilight rates. I went on a weekday afternoon and with the cart it was just $23. Which I consider decent value for the golf you get. The course had a fair amount of people playing, but it was not crazy busy. Off peak it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to play a round. Due to the location it can get very hot in the summer. So if you play in summer months I would recommend paying the extra for an electric cart, rather than walking.

In terms of design the course kind of had it all. There is water, sand and holes with elevation changes. It has an interesting course design with a good mixture of hole lengths. You will get to use all of your clubs in the bag. A couple of holes of note are hole 7 - 344 yard par 4 with water down the right and hole 11. Hole 11 is a par 3, 150 yard hole where the green is considerably lower than the tee box. You hit off the side of the mountain and then drive down to play this green and hole 12. You then drive back up to the rest of the golf course. Those who know me or follow my reviews will know that I love elevation changes in course design.


The longest hole on the card is 400 yards. So you do not have to hit like Tiger Woods to play here. Also when I played each of the tees were brought forward about 30-40 yards, so the course played even shorter. I am not sure exactly why that was as the back tees were not under maintenance.  The course was very quiet in terms of sound and tranquil. There is no traffic noise and you have the backdrop of the mountains. Which kind of reminded me a little of the setting at Altadena. Although in terms of course condition El Cariso is light years ahead of Altadena.

The greens are large and run well and smoothly, although a little on the quick side when I played. The sand in the bunkers is typical muni -grade. Nothing great but you can get out of them. All of the bunkers seemed shallow with no real deep ones out on the course. The course overall was in good, but not great condition. I found there was a lack of signage and it was tough to navigate the course at times. Not all of the tee boxes were marked - may be about a third were (if that many). I managed to stumble my way around by using the flags. Knowing that they go in a red, white and blue order.

The course itself is a nice 18 hole executive course. It is up there with Scholl Canyon, Vista Valencia and Westchester. However overall Scholl Cayon and Vista Valencia are more polished and enjoyable to play.

Richie says... "Nice golf course. I liked the design and it was fun to play. If I were looking to play 18 holes of executive style golf, I would rather go to Scholl Canyon. It has more of a wow factor. Moving forward I hope they post more signage and replace the damaged/ missing signs."

Hole by Hole

Hole 1 - 356 yards (par 4)



Hole 1 - 2nd shot (100 yards out)
Hole 2 - 346 yards (par 4)
Hole 3 - 155 yards
Hole 4 - 193 yards
Hole 4 - green
Hole 5 - 405 yards (par 4)
Hole 5 - 2nd shot (110 yards out)
Hole 6 - 129 yards
Hole 7 - 344 yards (par 4)
Hole 7 - 2nd shot (120 yards out)
Hole 8 - 136 yards
Hole 9 - 221 yards
Hole 10 - 356 yards (par 4)
Hole 10 - 2nd shot (150 yards out)
Hole 10 - green
Hole 11- 150 yards
Hole 12 - 295 yards (par 4)
Hole 12 - 2nd shot (120 yards out)
Hole 13 - 190 yards
Hole 14 - 179 yards
Hole 15 - 330 yards (par 4)
Hole 15 - 2nd shot (130 yards out)
Hole 16 - 176 yards
Hole 16 - green
Hole 17 - 140 yards
Hole 18 - 395 yards (par 4)
Hole 18 - 2nd shot (140 yards out)