Golf is one of the most fulfilling sports you can take up in Los Angeles. Its critics say that it’s not as exciting as extreme sports like snowboarding or as rigorous and fast-paced as sports like tennis. However, LA’s brilliant weather and not-so-brilliant traffic are reasons enough to want to pursue the Zen hot-weather sport. And if Webb Simpson, Stacy Lewis and the ‘Tiger’ himself aren’t inspiration enough, I don’t know what is.
One thing that plagues golfers--beginners and advanced players alike--is consistency. You can play an outstanding round of golf one day; but an off day can appear to erase all the progress you’ve made. So, as with any sport, practice makes perfect.
As a newbie golfer, I’m often intimidated by traditional 18-hole courses. I would therefore highly recommend starting with 9-hole courses and working up the endurance to play a full day’s golf. Some advanced golfers who don't always have the time for an 18-hole course, will also gravitate towards these shorter, breezier course just to keep up the practice.
The driving range and putting green have become my favorite places at my local 9-hole course. But it’s vital to skirt the fear and just get out there and play (albeit with an appropriate handicap).
There are a handful of nice 9-hole courses that I know of scattered around town, my favorite being Weddington Golf & Tennis in Studio City. It has an extremely relaxed ‘old school’ Valley vibe and sports center atmosphere (I have enjoyed both tennis and golf there).
The putting green is to the right as you enter and then you walk through the office/coffee shop area which opens out onto the driving range (24 stalls) and hole #1 of a 9-hole, 3 par course. I like it there because there is a good balance between not feeling rushed through the course and not being held up by slow, straggling fellow golfers. Or perhaps I’ve just been lucky. Weddington has been around for over 50 years. You can rent clubs there for $1 each (three clubs for $2.50). A round of golf costs $11 on weekends; $10 on weekdays and $7.50 for seniors.
Speaking of which, my mother turned me on to another 9-hole course on the Westside, called Penmar. Near Venice Beach, it’s a nice option on hot days. Certainly, Weddington can be scorching in the height of summer or if there’s a heat wave. A round at Penmar costs $15 on weekdays; $19 on weekends. Around since 1963, this friendly local course can be played in under three hours and is ideal for beginners.
Last but not least, East Side beginning golfers can head over to the Roosevelt Golf Course. Located a stone’s throw away from the Greek Theatre, this 9-hole’s distinctive feature is its hilliness, but it is gorgeous and does offer a nice walking experience festooned with trees and views. Fairways are narrow. The course is completable in about two and a half hours. If you’re a California resident you pay $14.50 on weekdays through Thursday; $16.75 on Fridays; $19 on weekends. Resident seniors pay a mere $9 if they hit the course Monday through Thursday.
I’m personally still trying to wrap my head around golf (probably not the appropriate analogy as you have to have a ‘clear head’ to play a strong game), but have found that these sorts of starter courses are the way to go. Also, frequenters of these golf spots tend to be friendly and want to offer (solicited and unsolicited) advice. This is great for learning the ropes and the etiquette, but beware of picking up bad habits early on. Unfortunately, when it comes to golf, many people think they’re Tiger Woods!
Weddington Golf and Tennis
4141 Whitsett Ave.
Studio City, CA 91604
Penmar Golf Course
1233 Rose Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Roosevelt Golf Course
2650 N Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027