Practice Center Review #9 – Glen Oaks (Glendora)

200 W. Dawson Ave
Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 335-7565

Hours: 7am-10pm

Small bucket (60 balls): $6
Large bucket (115 balls): $8
Jumbo bucket (225 balls): $14

This driving range and practice facility is located in the Glen Oaks Golf & Learning Center complex, just off the 210 freeway in Glendora. There is also a par 3, 9 hole golf course located at this site. Ample off-street parking is available across the street from the golf complex.

I initially came here to play on the course but was surprised at how nice the practice areas were. You have to walk past the driving range in order to get to the 1st tee. The driving range is nice and large. I would estimate about 30 stalls. Each stall has the yardages listed on a sign which is nice. There are plenty of targets to hit at, including greens. The website says the range is 250 yards, but there is a sign on the back fence saying 225 yards. The range runs west to east. So if you are planing on practicing early in the morning, take a hat. As the sun will be rising and will be directly in your eyes when hitting.

The condition is superb. The range grass is very nicely cut and the greens look just like the ones out on the course.  The stalls are nice and clean as is the whole practice area. You hit off mats, which is the norm at pretty much every public facility. The mats look in really nice shape, not worn. Plastic tees are spread throughout the stalls, so I presume they are provided for free.

The balls look to be above average. Not as good as somewhere like DeBell, but they are nevertheless acceptable. There is a giant “ball pit”. You basically take your bucket after you pay and fill it up yourself.

In addition to the range there is a nice chipping area and a putting green. Both are in very nice condition. The putting green did look a little on the small side, but it works. Prices are about average and they offer range punch cards for those you want to practice on a regular basis. I must say that this is one of the nicest driving ranges and practice centers which I have seen on my travels in the whole Los Angeles area. If you live in the local area I highly recommend practicing at Glen Oaks.

Putting green
Chipping area

How to Hit a Draw or a Fade

Shot shaping is an important part of the game. Some people hit draws or fades naturally. Your natural shot is the one you hit without making any adjustments to stance or swing.

Top professionals typically can hit draws or fades at will to gain the proper position on the fairway, or to land the ball at a desired spot on the green.

The below videos are very informative and show how you can hit those shots.

Video Part 1

Video Part 2

Video Part 3

Vista Valencia Golf Course – Par 3 “Chica”

24700 Trevino Drive
Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 253-1870

9 holes (par 27)
Yardage: 915 yards
Hours: 5.30am-sunset
Green fees: weekdays $13, weekends $16

This review is for the 9 hole par 3, golf course, named Chica. There is also an 18 hole executive golf course located at Vista Valencia. For a review of that course, click here.
At under 1,000 yards this course is very short and one of the shortest in the LA area. Most we play are in the 1,100-1,200 range. This makes this course suitable for kids or novices. In fact when I played there were a lot of kids out there. This did not slow down play though. Even on a holiday and the course being busy, I completed my round in an hour. This is in sharp contrast to the 18 hole executive golf course. That was extremely busy with the people ahead of me at the starters office being told there was a 30 minute delay to booked tee times. This par 3 Chica course is pay-and-play. There is no need to call and book a tee time to play here.

I enjoyed playing this course. It was very picturesque with a nice backdrop of the mountains. However the course runs parallel to the 5 Freeway, so there was a lot of traffic noise for the duration of the round. Playing on a holiday it cost $16. This is the same price as El Segundo, and as with El Segundo I will make the same comment…. It is kind of expensive for what you get. You do not get a lot of golf for the $16. However during the week it is only $12, which is a more reasonable rate.

The course is very well maintained. The grass is lush and well watered. There are green-side bunkers which have nice sand and were well raked. The greens were in nice shape overall, however on the small side. This made the course a little more challenging to play. The grass on the greens were a little longer and more watered than the executive course, so did not run so fast. This is good as it made putting not so difficult. As you can see on my review of the executive course the greens run extremely fast and often a gentle putt would go flying 10ft by the hole. I did notice on the greens as I played my round that there were an unusually large amount lot of pitch marks left not repaired. This is just basic golf etiquette. If your ball lands on the green and makes a pitch mark – please repair it!

The course design was interesting and had a good difference in hole lengths. Some holes were in the 80 yards range and the longest was 150. Hole 7, is kind of like hole 17 on the executive course. You hit from an elevated tee, down onto a green surrounded by water. A lot of the holes featured green-side bunkers and the water came into play in 3 of the 9 holes. They seem to like their water at Vista Valencia!

They have some ball washers and benches, but not at every tee box (may be about 1 in 3 holes). The benches which were here, were located in the sun. It gets so hot up here I would like to see some kind of shade while you are waiting. In order to get some respite from the sun.

Richie says… “Nice course and a lot more manageable than the 18 hole executive course. Busy, but still just takes an hour for a round. Not many public par 3 golf courses in this area, but this is a solid course. Just wish the $16 weekend/ holiday rate was a little less.” 

Hole by Hole

Hole 1 – 155 yards
Hole 2 – 110 yards
Hole 3 – 150 yards
Hole 3 – green
Hole 4 – 80 yards
Hole 5 – 75 yards
Hole 6 – 90 yards
Hole 7 – 125 yards

Hole 8 – 70 yards (and yes, they did not move when I took my tee shot)
Hole 9 – 100 yards

Armand Hammer Pony Course – Pitch n’ Putt (Westwood)

601 Club View Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 276-1604

18 holes (par 54)
Yardage: 832 yards
Hours: Dawn to dusk, 7 days
Green fees: weekdays $3, weekends $4 

Armand Hammer is an 18 hole pitch n’ putt course located in Westwood, adjacent to UCLA. It is located within Hornby Park. The course dates back to 1940 and was saved from closure in 1981 by Armand Hammer and Hugh Hefner. I have no idea the connection with Hugh Hefner, other than the Playboy mansion being just a block down the street. As with Sea Aire in Torrance this is a pitch n’ putt as opposed to a conventional par 3 course. The course measures just 832 yards total for the 18 holes, with the longest hole being 68 yards.

We arrived at 9am on a Saturday. The course is supposedly open dawn to dusk, but there was nobody there. As the course is in a public park with no fences etc, we went ahead and played anyhow. We expected someone to arrive so that we could pay, but no one did. The course is spread throughout the park. The tee boxes are not marked and it was quite hard to find our way around. The hole number is on the flag, but as there was no wind each flag was just hanging down the post.

As it is a pitch n’ putt the course is tiny. All you need is a wedge and putter. If you don’t have any clubs, they can be rented for just 25c each. If the guy working there shows up! The course was a little challenging due to the fact that the greens were only about 10ft across. The grass was also long and nothing like you find on a real golf course. Armand Hammer is a quaint little course to take young kids you are just getting into the game. Other than practicing your short chips, this course is by no means for the serious golfer. I would also advise beginner golfers to stay away from here. It will be too hard for you. You need a good touch and decent chipping skills. Also putting will be tough as the greens will not run smooth or at a good pace. You would be better off playing one of the par 3’s located in the area. DeBell in Burbank is a good course for beginners and a step up from a pitch n’ putt course. As with Sea Aire, I am rating this as a pitch n’ putt course and the ratings should not be compared with your regular golf courses as this is obviously a different animal.

Richie says… “Located in one of the most prestigious parts of Los Angeles, this course is very quaint. You can bring your kids here for a laid back round, but not for the serious golfer. If you do bring your kids make sure they do not swing too hard as there are parked cars surrounding the course/ park. Also watch out for the people taking leisurely walks through the course/ park.”

Hole by Hole

Hole 1 – 45 yards
Hole 2 – 62 yards
Hole 3 – 51 yards
Hole 4 – 35 yards
Hole 5 – 46 yards
Hole 6 – 68 yards
Hole 7 – 63 yards
Hole 8 – 63 yards

Hole 9 – 41 yards
Hole 10 – 29 yards
Hole 11 – 40 yards
Hole 12 – 40 yards
Hole 13 – 50 yards
Hole 14 – 38 yards
Hole 15 – 28 yards
Hole 16 – 63 yards
Hole 17 – 30 yards
Hole 18 – 40 yards

Van Nuys Golf Course – Par 3

6550 Odessa Ave
Van Nuys, CA  91406
(818) 785-8871

18 holes (par 54)
Yardage: 2,212 yards
Hours: 6am-10pm
Green fees: $19, $22 on weekends and holidays

This course is located between Victory and Vanowen – close to the Van Nuys Whiteman airport. In fact it is right in the flight path and you have the constant sound of aircraft flying overhead. The golf course complex comprises of a 18 hole par 3 course, an executive course and a driving range. This review focuses on the 18 hole par 3 course. I already reviewed the executive course here – Van Nuys Executive Golf Course Review

The golf course has a nice large parking lot and a small pro-shop in the starter office. There is also a snack bar located by the 1st and 10th holes. They do food and have several different beers on tap. The staff here are friendly and polite.

This course is 18 holes of par 3. All holes are relatively short – the longest being 132 yards. So you only need to bring a few clubs with you. The course is somewhat generic – there is nothing which sets this apart from the rest. All the holes are straight with no bunkers or water. The only hazards come in the form on trees which line the holes. This course is very similar to Arroyo Seco, although I enjoyed playing Van Nuys more. The staff are friendlier and I just like the vibe here more. The greens are good size and in good condition. They run well and the flags have the hole number clearly marked. There are no holes which really standout and to be honest there is nothing in the course design to make it standout from the rest.

The course condition is adequate. As I already stated the greens are good. The grass around the course is dry and patchy. You hit off mats and tees are provided. However the tees are not good. They vary in height from hole to hole, with most being 3″; which is obviously way too high for a tee shot with a wedge. I think the overall course needs some maintenance work. Most of the benches located at the tee boxes are broken and need the wood replacing. There are some broken signs and the ball machines look pretty old. Just a little TLC would make the overall experience better.
The course is located in Van Nuys. So be sure to bring plenty of sun screen and water if you plan to play during a summer afternoon – it gets very hot! When it is hot, I recommend playing earlier in the morning or play an alternative course nearer to the ocean; which will be more bearable. It should be noted that Van Nuys does have lights installed on this course. So you can play later in the evening or when it gets dark early in the winter. There are no carts here, unlike Arcadia. So you have to walk the 18 holes. If you play off peak you can probably get around the 18 holes in just under 2 hours.

It is $22 to play at the weekend. I feel this is a little overpriced for what you get. There are much nicer courses which you can play at a lower price. The Van Nuys Golf Course is on You can get much better rates by booking through them. I have seen rates as low as $4 to play the 18 holes (plus the $1.99 booking fee).

Richie says… “The course is your typical par 3 – there is nothing special about it. I much prefer the executive course. If I were to return to Van Nuys I would play the executive – it is more interesting to play and allows you to use different clubs in your bag”.

Albino says… “Go to GolfNow and you can find $6 deals. At $6 it is a great price and you get a lot of golf for your money.”

Hole by Hole

Hole 1 – 101 yards
Hole 2 – 131 yards
Hole 3 – 133 yards
Hole 4 – 123 yards
Hole 5 – 122 yards
Hole 6 – 132 yards

Hole 7 – 107 yards
Hole 8 – 122 yards
Hole 8 – green
Hole 9 – 118 yards
Hole 10 – 115 yards
Hole 11 – 122 yards
Hole 12 -131 yards
Hole 13 -115 yards
Hole 14 – 114 yards
Hole 15 – 89 yards
Hole 16 – 131 yards
Hole 17 – 88 yards
Hole 18 – 118 yards
Hole 18- green

John Peterson’s Amazing Skip Shot

Prior to teeing it up at the 2013 Tour Championship, John Peterson had some fun at the World Golf Hall of Fame, skipping a shot across the water to 17 feet 2 inches from the cup.

 I wish I could do this. Whenever I hit water the ball sinks and is gone forever!

Altadena Golf Course – Executive

1456 East Mendocino Street
Altadena, CA 91001
(626) 797-3821

9 holes (par 35)
Yardage: 2,948 yards
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Green fees: Weekdays $16.50, Weekends $20.25

Altadena is a 9 hole executive golf course. Altadena is located just north of Pasadena.There is a cafeteria/ bar and driving range there also. The course is a Los Angeles County course, but operated by O&J Management. The course is very long – almost 3,000 yards. The shortest hole is 167 yards and the longest was a par 4, 509 yard hole 9.

The course had electric carts available for hire, but they were $16. Which seemed very highly priced. So we walked the course. The course was very quiet. We played twilight and it took about 2 hours to complete the 9 holes. We were not delayed at all and there was no wait on any of the holes. Going at twilight (after 2pm in September) meant a saving in green fee. It was just $12.25 which is a good value.

The course as I said earlier is long. The most noticeable was hole 9 – the last hole. It was slight uphill and played of an alternate tee, which made it a 509 yard par 4. There are just two par 3 holes on the course and the rest are par 4’s. There are ladies and orange (kids?) tees for those who can not hit the ball far. All the holes are pretty much straight with trees down each side. There were some bunkers throughtout and sometimes in some challenging spots. The bunkers and sand were in good condition. Other than that the course was in overall bad shape. I have played to date 34 golf courses in the Los Angeles area. Other than South Gate, this is probably the worst maintained. I initially thought it was because it was a County course and there may be a lack of funding. But upon closer inspection, I see that it is maintained and operated by a private company (O&J). So they must have bid and won a contract to operate this golf course.

There are large areas of ground with no grass. The grass itself is not watered enough and the ground is very hard. If you stray off the fairway you encounter some gnarly conditions. Along hole 5 there were large patches of mulch just off the freeway. Hitting off the mulch was not all that fun. The greens although large, were not good. The ball did not roll smoothly. There were patches of grass missing and some greens were “diseased” looking. The greens were extremely slow and with little break. When we were out I saw no maintenance people out there working. There was just one employee working in the starters office and a couple of ladies in the cafe/ bar.

If I lived in the area I would much prefer to play down the street at Rancho Duarte. What this course does have for it though is the size and the fact that you can hit a driver off almost every tee. Other than that there is really nothing to distinguish it, or make it stand out. On a positive the course has the mountains in the background which is nice and very tranquil. No freeway noise etc.

Richie says… “Course was in terrible condition. The County should review their management agreement with O&J. American Golf do a much nicer job in operating the local courses. I doubt I would ever play here again.”

Albino says…“The course is in bad shape. That 509 yard uphill par 4 is a monster of a hole.”

Hole by Hole

Hole 1 – 453 yards (par 4)
Hole 1 – 2nd shot (150 yards out)
Hole 2 – 167 yards
Hole 2 – green
Hole 3 – 300 yards (par 4)
Hole 3 – 2nd shot (120 yards out)
Hole 4 – 172 yards
Hole 5 – 446 yards (par 4)
Hole 5 – 2nd shot (150 yards out)
Hole 6 – 301 yards (par 4)
Hole 6 – 2nd shot (60 yards out)
Hole 7 – 375 yards (par 4)
Hole 7 – 2nd shot (150 yards out)
Hole 8 – 297 yards (par 4)
Hole 8 – 2nd shot (100 yards out – right rough)
Hole 9 – 509 yards (par 4)
Hole 9 – 2nd shot (200 yards out)
Hole 9 – green