Short Course Blitz #9: Swingin’ Around Los Angeles

Sunday was yet another Southern California Short Course Blitz. I have a number of courses still left in Los Angeles County, but I knocked out five more. For lack of a better regional term that encompasses them all, I mostly stayed along the I-5 Freeway.

I started furthest away and worked then worked my way back toward home after that…

Vista Valencia Golf Course (Chica) • Valencia, CA • 12/14/14

Earlier this year, I had to chance to play the main course at this complex (Vista), which I enjoyed. I got a peek at the even smaller Chica course while there, but didn’t have time to squeeze in a round. I wish I had, because this one was kind of out of the way and disconnected with other LA County short course groupings I had listed out.

I was there early and had to wait a little while for some daylight, but I went off first on my own just before 6:30. The price was $16 for 9 holes, though I probably could have looped around a couple times out there with nobody saying anything. I get the sense anything goes on the Chica course, which is fine since it’s just a par-3 course that doesn’t get too much action.

When I made the plan to play here first, I wasn’t thinking about how cold it would be up in Valencia this time of year. It was around 40 degress and there was still plenty of frost on the ground on the course itself.

The first couple holes here are pretty flat and wide open, but then there’s a stretch in the middle that offers some slight elevation changes and some trees in play for a couple of narrow tee shots. Also, there’s a water hazard that comes into play on the 7th, which is probably the “signature” hole here if there is such a thing.

The holes on Chica range from 70 yards up to 150 and the greens have some decent shape and contour. A couple of bunkers also come into play, so it’s a slight step up from a more basic pitch and putt design.

The course was in okay enough shape. The greens were very wet, but the surfaces were in pretty good condition. The tee boxes weren’t great, but not overly chewed up. Everything else was relatively good, but naturally inconsistent for a course of this caliber. You might find a patch of thick rough or a pile of mud, so anything off the green is a hit or miss prospect.

Some pictures from Vista Valencia Golf Course (Chica) (12/14/14):

I hopped in my car and drove back down the pass toward LA. My next stop was in Burbank…

DeBell Par-3 Golf Course • Burbank, CA • 12/14/14

Like Vista Valencia, I had the chance to play the main DeBell course awhile ago, but overlooked the par-3 course at the time. Here, things are a little different because the short course is not physically attached to the main facility at all. It’s just down the hill on a separate property, with its own small check-in shack to handle your business.

When I arrived around 7:40, the only other person there was the guy working the booth. I paid my $7 for 9 holes, but he told me to take my time and play as much as I saw fit. That was a nice gesture, but of course I was only there to play a quick round and move onto the next destination.

DeBell’s par-3 course is a true “pitch and putt” layout with tiny greens that are pretty ugly shaved-town grass and holes maxing out at 90 yards. I brought a couple wedges and my putter, and regrettably, only one ball. You shouldn’t lose any here on most days, but there were so many dead leaves and some unkempt rough around the course after the storm. I had one really close call and luckily found my ball after an exhaustive search. Otherwise, I would have had to walk all the way back up the hill to my car for another one. That would have sucked! There is a small ravine you play over a couple times, as well, but you should still be able to recover your ball from there if you knock one in.

You hit your tee shots from mats here and they have also seen better days. In addition to bringing an extra ball, I would also recommend you just wear your normal sneakers here. The part of the mats you stand on to hit does not create much traction with soft-spiked golf shoes (especially when things are wet out). I had to concentrate a lot in order not to fall on my face, which hindered my ability to take a normal, relaxed swing.

There isn’t too much else to say about DeBell’s par-3 course. It does double as a disc golf course if you are into that. Either way, I can’t expect it ever gets very busy here, so if you live nearby and want a cheap place to take your kids for a quick round, this is a good place for that.

Some pictures from DeBell Par-3 Golf Course (12/14/14):

I diverted off the I-5 for my next round, but it made sense to try and include this one with the course grouping I had laid out for the day…

Weddington Golf & Tennis • Studio City, CA • 12/14/14

Really, it wasn’t much of a detour and things worked out well. There were definitely more people out here than the other courses I played in the morning and I will say there were some really fancy cars in the parking lot given the location, but I still was able to walk on and get out right away. The price was $11 for 9 holes.

I teed off after a threesome (a grandmother and her two young grandchildren), but they graciously let me play through on the 2nd tee. I did catch another twosome toward the end of the round, but otherwise enjoyed my own pace.

Just about every Short Course Blitz I’ve done has produced at least one pleasant surprise. Weddington was it this time. Most people I know have never even heard of this place, but it seems to be a popular old course and practice facility (and also a tennis club, of course) that is frequented by the Studio City crowd.

Weddington features a 9-hole par-3 course with holes ranging from 75 yards up to 130. The conditions were very nice and pretty lush/green throughout. The greens were excellent and professionally maintained. They do use mats here for the tees, which isn’t great, but they were in good shape.

The greens here are the real story because they offer some interesting undulation and sloping to work on your short game. The 4th green is a wacky funhouse with all sorts of humps and bumps (and a relatively severe side slope). The rest aren’t too crazy, but they do make things interesting enough to keep an otherwise basic layout a bit more entertaining.

The course is lined with some pine trees and a ton of tall, skinny palm trees for that classic Los Angeles vibe and I wouldn’t be surprised if you crossed paths with a celebrity here every now and again.

Some pictures from Weddington Golf & Tennis (12/14/14):

Weddington was a good precursor to my next course, which does have some “celebrity” status…

Los Feliz Golf Course • Los Angeles, CA • 12/14/14

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Swingers,” then you might recognize Los Feliz Golf Course from the brief scene where Jon Favreau and Ron Livingston’s characters are discussing career options as struggling actors. It makes sense since most of the movie takes place in the hip Los Feliz neighborhood, just down the street from The Derby, The Dresden and House of Pies, which all make appearances in the movie as local hotspots.

Sadly, The Derby closed down several years ago. I went there several times back in the day to watch some great swing revival bands like Royal Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the lesser known, but highly entertaining, Lee Press-On and the Nails. Pardon me for getting nostalgic, but it was hard not to have some flashbacks while in this neighborhood for the first time in many years.

Anyway, that tiny bit of fame is the most notable thing about the little old Los Feliz pitch and putt course. The price was $7 for 9 holes of play. I jumped out on the first tee ahead of fivesome and then caught some groups on the final few holes. Otherwise, it was not too busy out there on a Sunday in the late morning.

The course got somewhat beat up by the storms and there were some big flooded sections. Luckily, nothing impacted the tees or the greens. They do also use mats here, but they were pretty new and good to hit from. The greens were in good shape, but anything off the greens was questionable. There was lots of debris and soft spots after the storms.

Beyond that, Los Feliz is a pretty straightforward design with holes ranging from 92 up to 135 yards. The greens are simple, but reasonable in size.

Unless you are a huge Swingers fan all these years later, there isn’t much reason to go out of your way for the Los Feliz course. If you live locally, then likely you already have a soft spot for this place. That is one cool thing about playing all these short courses because people have such strong emotional connections to them. I know how I feel about the little course I grew up playing, so that’s always in the back of my mind on days like these.

Some pictures from Los Feliz Golf Course (12/14/14):

After playing the course, I stayed right there and ate at the Los Feliz Cafe that shares the same parking lot and is right next to the course itself. It seemed like a popular spot. I enjoyed a pretty tasty early-lunch cheeseburger with seasoned crinkle-cut fries on the side. It was about $10 for the meal and a soft drink before tip.

Even after playing four separate courses in the morning and enjoying a relaxed meal, I still got to my next course way earlier than expected…

Roosevelt Golf Course • Los Angeles, CA • 12/14/14

This was the one tee time I had booked because they had a 12:24 “hot deal” available on GolfNow. Basically, since all the LA City-owned courses were added to GN recently, they now each just offer one pre-paid time in the middle of the day. The price was $18 for 9 holes, which I believe is a slight discount from normal rack rates as a non-resident.

Unfortunately, because of their system, I was unable to check in early and tee off ahead of my scheduled time. I encountered the same issue at Harbor Park not too long ago, so just know these places are pretty strict when it comes to their GN-booked times.

The first tee was open when I arrived, but I had to wait and watch a bunch of big groups show up and jam-pack the first tee. Ultimately, the guy let me check in a little closer to my time and I was able to get off about 10 minutes early. Gee, thanks!

We were in the back of the pack, so the pace was pretty slow. We waited on most shots and some holes would have two groups on the tee. Still, this is an executive par-33 course so we were still done in around 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Roosevelt is located within Griffith Park, but is not attached to the other park courses (Wilson and Harding) geographically. It is on the south side of the park, right across the street from the Greek Theater and down the hill from the Griffith Observatory.

Roosevelt is a walking-only course. They do have pull carts for rent for a few bucks or you can bring your own. The layout is quite hilly, so it will provide a good workout no matter how you carry your clubs.

With the hills, big doglegs and some very narrow tee shots, Roosevelt offers a very fun executive layout with six par-4s and three par-3s. There is just one par-4 in the 400-yard range. The rest are relatively short at under 340. The par-3s offer a decent mix of lengths.

If you like Wilson and/or Harding, Roosevelt is a good companion course to those with a similar design and look. It’s not an overly challenging layout, but a bad score can sneak up on you with a poor shot or two. It’s definitely a “target” course.

The course is in pretty decent overall shape, highlighted by the greens. They were in very good condition, though not enough people here fix their ball marks. The tee boxes were fine for the most part. The fairways were a mix of 70% really good and 30% terrible. There was no in between. When there were bare patches they were very big and very sandy and/or muddy. The rough was kind of the same way, either lush and thick or bare dirt/sand/mud. I was in one bunker, which had way too many unraked footprints. However, the sand quality was decent.

Roosevelt certainly isn’t on the same level as Wilson and Harding, but it offers similar Griffith Park charm. It provides some great views, and it obviously gets a lot of play from golfers of all levels. You can expect a slow-ish round and poor etiquette when it comes to ball marks and sand traps, but that’s true at most of LA’s municipal and county-owned courses. It just comes with the territory.

Some pictures from Roosevelt Golf Course (12/14/14):

After finishing at Roosevelt, I still had some daylight so I thought I’d head up to the Griffith Observatory to take a few pictures. Unfortunately, it was packed. The main lot was full and the auxiliary lot was also jammed, so I just turned around. Oh well. I did stop at one pull-off to take this picture of the Los Angeles Skyline, though.

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