Legendary courses, amazing weather make Los Angeles a golfer's dream

By William K. Wolfrum, Contributor

The city of dreams allows for year-round golf at some of the best public courses in the world.

Plus, lets face it, it's Los Angeles. For the family, you have Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm a short drive away. You also have access to an endless stream of events that call L.A. home, including concerts and professional sports. Plus, it all borders on the beach.

Add into that one important misconception that many visitors have: It's probably not as smoggy as you think. Sure, there are days when the air looks, smells and tastes like an exhaust soup, but the place is in a basin, after all. However, years of emission testing laws has slowly taken hold, and more often or not, the smog is not such a hindrance.

With all that, and with the temperature averaging around 80 degrees throughout the year and rain usually only visiting periodically in late summer and spring, a trip to Los Angeles means never leaving your clubs at home.

Must plays

You'll want to call ahead for a tee-time at Rancho Park Golf Course, as it's quite possibly the busiest course in the state of California. The amount of players can result in the greens being ball-marked, but the course is one avid golfers don't want to miss.

Long holes and plenty of trees reward length and accuracy, as the course measures 6,635 yards with a 124 slope from the championship tees. Still, if you're heading to 18 with a score that makes you blush, check out the plaque at the tee box, commemorating Arnold Palmer's 12 on that hole.

For less that $50 a round, even on weekends, it's a can't-miss course. But be prepared: It's busy, so don't be shocked if your 18 becomes a six-hour marathon.

Brookside Golf Course is located about 20 miles north of L.A. in Pasadena, just around the corner from the Rose Bowl.

Offering two of the best public courses in Southern California, Brookside No. 1 is a great place to pull your experimental driver out of the bag, as the course plays more than 7,000 yards with a slope of 128, while course No. 2 plays a bit easier and shorter with a 115 slope and a length of 6,048 yards.

Built in 1928 and designed by William Bell, the two courses maintain a modern feel and are well worth the $50-60 per round.

The Lost Canyons Golf Club are in Simi Valley, which is still L.A. County, but a good 35 miles North. If you are looking for a challenge, however, the drive should be no problem, even with L.A.'s notorious traffic.

The Pete Dye-designed Shadow Course is designed through a canyon and features breathtaking visuals that will help take your mind off the toughness of the 149-slope course that plays over 7,250 yards, with the Sky Course coming in about the same.

A round will run in the neighborhood of $75-100, but the combination of brilliant scenery and challenging play is one not to be missed.

The Griffith Park Golf Courses features two courses, both named for former presidents. The Harding Course is tree-lined with water coming into play and is a good shot-makers' course, while the Wilson Course features tighter fairways and covers 6,947 yards. Both courses have a slope rating around 117.

For golfers, Griffith Park is a perfect place to wile away the hours, as aside from the two full courses, they offer two 9-hole courses, four putting greens, two pitching and chipping greens and a two-tier, lighted practice range. The courses can be busy, but with the fees around $50 for 18, it's well worth a possible delay.

To make things even better for golfers traveling with family, there are several tourist locations right near the courses, including the Los Angeles Zoo, Travel Town, Planetarium Observatory, and the Gene Autry Western Museum.

Solid seconds

Catalina Island Golf Course is a brilliant destination for the golfer who appreciates ambiance over a challenge. While the course is short - it's only nine holes that can be played from different tees to make a full 18 - the scenery and history of the course make up for its lack of size.

The oldest course in California (built in 1892) is a mere 22 miles away from Los Angeles, but is light-years different in pace. You can either take a ferry or helicopter to the island and be transported to the quaint city of Avalon, once the home of chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., and legendary author Zane Grey.

Getting a time for the course should be no problem, and you can either play nine holes for less than $30 or a full 18 for $50-55. You'll absolutely find better courses near L.A., but you'll be hard pressed to find any more scenic.

Where to stay

If you stand in the middle of Los Angeles and throw a rock in any direction, you're bound to hit some type of lodging establishment. Of course, we aren't advising you use that technique. The point remains, however, that travelers have many options for where they want to hang their hat in L.A.

The Los Angeles Downtown Marriott offers nearly 500 rooms and is centrally located within easy driving distance to more golf courses than you could play in a month. Check their "Golfer's Getaway" which offers an 18-hole excursion to Brookside Golf Course.

Where to Eat

Spago Beverly Hills
176 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-5811

i Cugini
1501 Ocean Ave. (Broadway)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-4595

William K. WolfrumWilliam K. Wolfrum, Contributor

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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