After playing the Harding course in Griffith Park a couple weeks ago, I was eager to come back and play Wilson, which is generally regarded as the better of the two. I made it a priority to play there this past weekend because I knew the course was getting ready to aerate the greens this week.
I used their online tee time service for non-residents (8-day advance booking available) and found an 8:30 time for a single on Sunday. The booking fee is a bit much at $5, but worth it to me. I’d rather pay a little extra to avoid taking my chances as a walk-on player at such a busy facility (especially on a weekend). At the course, I paid the $43 non-resident green fee as a walker.
I was paired with a threesome and we teed off on time. The first few holes moved really slow and we figured we were in for a long day (Wilson is known for 5+ hour rounds). But ultimately, it opened up a little bit and moved at a steady pace. We were finished in 4.5 hours, which was a pleasant surprise.
I knew Wilson was a longer and more challenging course than Harding. After studying the scorecard, I knew I was in for tough day. Even though the whites (6,436 yards) would probably be most comfortable with my length, I figured I’d end up playing the blues (6,666 yards—seriously). But my playing partners were talking about taking the “full ride” at Wilson by playing the blacks (6,952 yards). I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I went along for the ride.
Actually, I held my own despite having to hit a 3-wood on most approach shots. I stayed out of trouble for the most part and did fairly well from tee to green. However, my chipping and putting was a bit off and I couldn’t get up and down as much as I normally do. It was one of those days where the score didn’t seem to reflect how well I played. Oh well, I still had plenty of fun and am kind of glad I took on the full course from the tips.
Other than the added length, Wilson is pretty similar to Harding. Though shorter, Harding plays a bit tighter in spots, whereas Wilson is relatively forgiving off the tee. There’s plenty of landing room and not too many hazards to contend with as long as you keep it out of trees. There’s only one small water hazard on the course (4th hole) and even it’s not much of a factor.
Most of the holes on Wilson are pretty straightforward. Some have slight doglegs and there are more hills to deal with than Harding. You’ll be faced with some more awkward uphill, downhill and side-hill lies, primarily on the opening four holes and the closing three holes. The 18th is a fun finishing hole, playing uphill off the tee to a fairway that slopes severely from right to left.
Like Harding, Wilson benefits from the nice setting in Griffith Park. There are a couple of holes next to the loud I-5 freeway, but most of it has a nice parkland atmosphere with weekend joggers and bikers along the roads and trails around the course. This is an area with a lot of LA history, so it’s a very enjoyable place to have two good municipal golf courses.
Wilson was in solid overall condition as one of the better-maintained muni tracks around. The tee boxes were a bit lumpy in places, but I never had a problem finding a decent spot to tee it up. The fairways were mostly nice with some thin areas here and there. The rough was mostly pretty lush. The greens were looking and rolling good before they get ready to aerate—very soft and receptive. There were some old/unrepaired marks here and there, but not bad for the amount of play this course gets. I wasn’t in a bunker, so no comments there.
All in all, it was another fun day at Griffith Park. I’ve been wanting to play both of these courses for a long time, so I am glad I’ve finally gotten the chance to check out Wilson and Harding.
Some pictures from Wilson Golf Course (10/13/13):