Penmar and The Lakes at El Segundo offer a quick round of golf near Los Angeles' beaches

By Robert Gray, Contributor

LOS ANGELES -- Local golfers and visitors to Los Angeles-area beaches looking to tee it up can find great golf escapes just a sand wedge away from the shoreline on a pair of area nine-hole courses.

Lakes at El Segundo golf course
The Lakes at El Segundo offers some enjoyable golf in the trendy Manhattan Beach area of L.A.
Lakes at El Segundo golf coursePenmar Municipal Golf Course
If you go

What these tracks lack in distance from the tee and big-name designer pedigree, they make up for in convenience.

They are the closest public courses to area beaches and allow folks to squeeze in some fun golf without the time constraints and traffic hassle required to reach the area's championship courses. What's more, they can be played at entry-level prices.

Penmar Municipal Golf Course in Venice

Penmar Municipal Golf Course is run by the City of Los Angeles and is located in the trendy Venice neighborhood just down the street from Rose Avenue's restaurant row. The clubhouse is a mile and a half from the Venice Beach Boardwalk and about three miles from the Santa Monica Pier.

The course is situated in a low-lying plain just below the Santa Monica Airport's runway where high-end guests, celebrities, and business people fly in on private planes, putting the "executive" into this nine-hole layout.

The 2,582-yard, par-33 course is compactly constructed in a residential area, but don't leave the driver and fairway woods at home. There are only three par-3 holes, and the seventh hole is a par 5 for ladies. No. 7 plays 436 yards from the tips and offers a great opportunity to uncork a big drive and chip onto the green for a birdie putt.

While there are sand traps sprinkled in and the fairways are narrow, the course mostly allows golfers the chance to hone their short game and fairway approach-shots from farther out than on a par-3 track.

Jay Swerdlow frequents L.A.'s muni course circuit and enjoys the golf here because of the course's condition and especially for its location.

"Penmar is convenient to all of the west side of L.A. and is good for beginners to scratch golfers," he said. "Considering the amount of play it gets, the course is well kept."

Green fees top out at $19 for L.A. residents and $22 for visitors for nine holes, plus $3 for a hand cart. Replays are just a few dollars more. Kids and beginning golfers are welcome, and lessons are available.

The Lakes at El Segundo

Golfers in the trendy Manhattan Beach area are less than two miles from a multitude of volleyball nets and the famous pier to the first tee on The Lakes at El Segundo golf course.

The nine-hole executive course is a par 29 and while it plays just 1,327 yards, it offers some enjoyable golf for locals and visitors alike. There is a double-decker driving range, a chipping and pitching green with bunker, plus a natural-grass putting green. There are 10 teaching pros on hand for lessons.

Bobby Anderson, who works the till in the pro shop, says they cater to tourists.

"We have people come in while waiting for flights. Visitors come from nearby hotels, and we offer them deals if they show us their room key." This promotion is featured in local magazines and some area in-hotel brochures, and rental clubs can be had for $15.

Green fees run $15 for visitors during the week and $18 on weekends. And yes, you can play another nine holes for $9 during the week.

The course definitely focuses on the short game, although it offers more varied terrain than Penmar. No. 4 tees off uphill to an elevated green. Shots that don't stick the putting surface suffer a steep drop to bunkers down below.

No. 5 tees from the course's highest point and is a short iron shot over the hole's other tee boxes tiered below down to a huge green with bunker backstops to catch shots that run through the green. That's followed by the sixth hole which requires a shot dropped over a huge bunker for a possible birdie putt.

The Lakes at El Segundo's ninth is the longest, but drivers are not allowed since there's a cafe about 250 yards from the tee and just off to the left of the fairway. Course officials say too many errant tee shots found their way into the tables.

Note: Top Golf is in talks with the city of El Segundo to lease part of the Lakes golf course space. Lakes officials say no changes would occur before January 2016.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The photo of Penmar Municipal Golf Course appears courtesy of the What Do I Know? blog.

Robert GrayRobert Gray, Contributor

Robert Gray is a freelance journalist now based on the West Coast after covering Wall St., the economy, and the business of sports among other things for Fox Business and Bloomberg TV in New York. Prior to that, he covered sports, news and entertainment for various media in Washington, D.C. and Prague. Follow Robert on Twitter at @robertdgray.

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