Led by the Ike course, Los Angeles area's Industry Hills Golf Club deserving of its national honors
CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. -- If you can't beat (or be) a PGA Tour pro, you might as well join them, on the caliber of golf course you're playing at least. It's one reason that Industry Hills Golf Club's name has long been synonymous with high-class Southland golf, and now in the limelight of arguably the golf industry's biggest award, Industry Hills continues to serve as one of the most well respected golf facilities in Los Angeles.
Named the 2010 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association (an honor shared with such past winners as Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2006), Industry Hills is steeped in three decades of history and awards over its 36 holes of William F. Bell golf: the Dwight D. Eisenhower course and Babe Didrikson Zaharias course. Better known as the Ike and Babe, the layouts were built atop an old landfill in 1979, spread over 650 acres with panoramas of the San Gabriel Mountains and valley below.
Management's dream of the Ike when it opened, in particular, was a championship-caliber course that could host a U.S. Open with two weeks notice. While that aspect hasn't yet been fulfilled (certainly not due to lack of quality), a major $22 million renovation at the hands of San Diego-based architect Casey O'Callaghan to both the Ike and Babe was. The result is golf courses that rival the conditions of a private club facility without sacrificing accessibility.
"The two main reasons for truly appreciating a golf course are the quality of the layout and the consistency of the maintenance," says Dave Youpa, PGA, director of golf at Industry Hills and a 19-year golf industry veteran. "The renovation guarantees that golf enthusiasts will enjoy the courses at Industry Hills Golf Club for years to come."
Industry Hills Golf Club's signature layout: The Ike
So what about the Ike, the meatier track of the two with a healthy 75.1/142 rating and slope, featuring large undulating greens, sycamore-lined fairways and host to more than 20 U.S. Open qualifiers, major Southern California amateur championships and star-studded celebrity tournaments? It's the facility's signature layout for a reason.
"The Ike is a little more macho, as opposed to the resort-friendly Babe," Youpa says. "It's longer, has more elevation changes, and wider fairways. The Ike is literally more golf course, and that's why so many people enjoy it."
At 7,200 yards from the back tees and with three other sets from which to tee it up, the Ike is considered one of Southern California's supreme challenges. As Tiger Woods' self-proclaimed "proving ground," quite a bit has changed since Woods last teed it up there. During O'Callaghan's renovation of Industry Hills, many of the Ike's greens complexes were reconstructed, and 100 percent of its bunkers were rebuilt and filled with desert tan and Augusta white sand, the preferred combination of professional players. Each fairway was also replaced and carpeted with Hybrid Bermuda Tiffway II, widely used on PGA Tour courses for its highly consistent playing surface.
Thanks to some help from a 300-goat herd, much of the natural vegetation was cleared (or consumed, in this case) from wooded areas, lessening time in finding errant shots. Yardages were added to 900 sprinkler heads, and as part of Industry Hills' Greens Technologies program, the entire irrigation system was replaced. For players familiar with the before-and-after, there's a renewed appreciation for the classic golf course.
"Industry Hills has always been one of my favorites, but now I find it a bit more fun, too," says Rob Brownfield, a 10-index who's been playing Industry Hills since the late-1990s. "Pace of play has improved, the rough was cleaned up, and the putting surfaces are top notch. It's quality, for sure."
Noteworthy holes on the Ike course at Industry Hills
There are several noteworthy holes on the Ike, like the 386-yard, par-4 second. It comes complete with an elevated tee (and unrivaled views of the San Gabriel Valley) requiring a shot to a green fronted by a lake with waterfall. The par-3 ninth, a 137-yard shot from the back tees, showcases Industry Hills' famous Austrian funicular, an inclined railway that until recently transported golfers from the ninth hole to the top of the hill (the ride is no longer operational, although the impressive structure remains).
The coup de gras of the Ike course, however, is its monster finishing hole. The 18th is a 652-yard, uphill par-5 that challenges even the longest hitters to make the green in regulation. An errant ball will land in an adjacent lake with towering fountain, while even solid shots will require work as golfers make their way to the top. When the final putt drops, however, a satisfying view of the course below makes for a great end to another (hopefully) stellar round.
Industry Hills Golf Club's Ike course: The verdict
The Ike layout at Industry Hills Golf Club provides a PGA Tour-quality course with public accessibility, a great test of golf for the serious player and equally enjoyable for the mid- and high-handicappers with correct tee selection. Fairways are wide, greens are firm and shot-making ability is rewarded on a course that rivals today's major championship host facilities.
"People love the layout," Youpa says. "It challenges golfers of all levels without being unfair. The Ike is as much golf course as the golfer wants to play, and that's why players keep coming back."
Practice facilities and instruction at Industry Hills G.C.
A comprehensive practice facility at Industry Hills Golf Club includes a short-game area with practice bunkers, four putting greens and a 64-stall, double-decker lighted driving range with simulated hazards that's open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Golf Academy at Industry Hills offers several different options for lessons, including group, individual or clinics.
Stay and play at Industry Hills
Adjacent to the golf courses stands Pacific Palms Resort, Los Angeles' only destination golf, spa and conference property. Also having undergone a massive facelift, the 292-room resort's amenities include a recently opened spa and several restaurants including RED, featuring outdoor fireside dining. Golf packages are available for guests at the resort.
June 4, 2010