Last Tuesday, I spent the whole day in Glendale. You’ve already read about my special round at Oakmont Country Club. Well, there was one more private club in town that I was able to play that day: Chevy Chase Country Club.
I reached out to the club in advance and they were nice enough to invite me out for an afternoon round after I finished at Oakmont. It couldn’t have worked out better since they are so close to one another.
It wasn’t too busy out there on a Tuesday afternoon, so I got out and went around the course pretty quickly. Being that this is a 9-hole layout (technically 10 holes), it was ideal for a late afternoon visit with the days being so short this time of year.
Like its more well-known crosstown club, Chevy Chase has plenty of history. The club was established in 1925, long before the actor existed. If you are curious like I was, he was nicknamed after the city of Chevy Chase, MD. And, that city and this part of Glendale supposedly derived their names from a Scottish folktale.
The course at Chevy Chase was designed by William P. Bell, who was recently inducted into the SCGA Hall of Fame alongside his son William F. Bell. Not sure why it took so long since so many classic courses throughout Southern California have been crafted by the Bell family.
The layout definitely has an older feel, which usually means it will come with a few quirks. Chevy Chase is not long by modern standards, but it is a tricky design with plenty of trees in play, steep natural slopes, a few sharp doglegs and tight angles all around. The course is built in a small canyon. It is all constructed on a hillside, so everything runs down toward the clubhouse at the bottom of the hill.
Speaking of the clubhouse, they just recently opened their brand new clubhouse here. They really upgraded everything to bring the facilities into the 21st Century and to enhance their member experience.
Chevy Chase is a 9-hole par-34 layout for men (par-36 for women). There are different tees and combos set up to play for 18 holes. One of the most interesting parts of the course is the corner that houses the 6th and 15th holes. Unlike the rest of the course, these are actually two different par-3 holes that you play depending on which nine you are on. The tees and greens criss-cross one another and play very differently. The 6th is a more-uphill-than-you-think hole that maxes out at 145 yards (though it plays more like 160). Then, the 15th is a shorter and more level hole that tops out at just 105 yards. I ended up playing both simultaneously just to get the full experience of each hole.
I knew this course had some options like this and I thought the same might have been true on the 2nd/11th holes. I was mistaken and found out the truth after the fact. The 2nd hole is listed a short par-5 (433 yards downhill from the black tees) and the 11th is listed as a par-4 at 405 yards if you play the blue tees as your back nine.
I didn’t look too closely at the scorecard before teeing off and I didn’t have a course guide or map to look at. I saw a green straight ahead of me down the hill, though there was a row of small trees cutting directly across the fairway about 100 yards in front of it. I figured that was my green, so I fired away and reached it on my second shot. I thought I had a rare putt at eagle when I got further up the fairway and noticed another more hidden green to the right across a small canyon.
I dropped a ball where I would have laid up if I knew about this second green, and I played over to it just to experience it. Once I thought about it, I figured that the left green was for the par-4 (11) and the right green was for the par-5 (2). Ultimately, I learned that the first green I hit to (on the left) is just a practice green. It is not part of the course, though it sure looks like it was at some point in time. The right green is the proper green and the only green to use for holes 2 and 11. The first time through, it is a fairly easy par-5 with a risk/reward option of hitting a completely blind second shot to the green on the other side of the canyon. The second time through (especially if you are playing the same tees as the first time around), it is a demanding par-4 that requires the blind approach shot just to get on in regulation.
Beyond these two holes, there are no other “alternate green” surprises here. That is not to say it’s easy. You will be faced with some narrow angles and uncomfortable shots. Some of the natural slopes are steep and can hurt or help you depending on the rollout you get. The 7th/16th is probably the most memorable hole that’s set furthest back in the canyon. The tee shot requires smart placement in the fairway, and then you are left with an intimidating second shot around the tight corner. A small hazard also protects the very tiny green front/right, so there is little room for error.
Chevy Chase is probably not a course that everyone will enjoy because it has its quirks and some people may not be able to take a 9/10-hole layout as seriously as a full 18. However, it is a fun and historic design that will make you work for a good score. I’m sure glad I got to play it, and it seems like a very friendly and relaxed club that has a completely different vibe than Oakmont.
Some pictures from Chevy Chase Country Club (11/14/17):
Practice Green (not #2 or #11):
Real #2/11 Green:
The 6th Hole:
The 15th Hole: