Wednesday, December 19, 2007


So some readers have rightly wondered what ever happened to my date to play Los Angeles Country Club ( currently ranked the 34th best course in America and #4 in California -- behind a few you might have heard of -- Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and the Olympic Club).

"So what did you shoot?"
"Did you even make it through the gate?"
"Do the water fountains run with Cristal?"

To answer those questions: 83, yes and Cristal Lite. In truth I've been so worried that writing about it would get me blacklisted from any more invites to private clubs that I haven't mentioned it since. But the people have spoken -- and this is America, damn it! What's the worst they can do? Not make me a member? Somehow I'm sure they'd have plenty of reasons before even getting to this piece, the first being, "Um, how do you actually expect to pay for this?"
Here's a quick summary with some pictures, sparing you most of my bad shots in between.
**The three of us (my old boss Alan who generously paid for my round, his friend Steve and I arrive at the course at exactly 8:30am, the agreed upon time. I had spent the previous 35 minutes sitting in a nearby Walgreen's parking lot watching the clock on my car. Alan had been driving through the hills of Bel Air, watching the clock on his car.)
Steve is nearly hyperventilating he's so excited, and wearing an Augusta National sweater to give the illusion that any of us actually belong at this place.
We walk into the locker room -- it's gigantic. And empty. The fact that not one member wants to play on a Wednesday morning is amazing.
**We drive out to the first tee after meeting our host, who for anonymity's sake I'll call "O Most Gracious One." The first things I notice is there are no cart paths. Most hackers like us would get so confused by this that they'd spend the first 30 minutes driving around trying to figure out how the heck to get out to the teebox.
**The course starts out with 2 par 5's. Weird. I play the first 2 shots on each of them perfectly, then, push block a pitching wedge on the first and hook the same pitching wedge on the 2nd. Yes, I'm nervous.
**#5: Nothing but a long, uphill, hard par-4. Nicklaus apparently once called it the longest par-4 in America. I hit a pretty good drive and the best 3-wood of my life and was 5 feet short of the green. Steve had a 6 footer to save par but admitted he was literally so nervous he couldn't putt. Yes, literally. I told him to do something I read in Golf Digest (why can't I ever remember tips that would help MY game) and to tense up every muscle in his body, then release it and stroke the putt. He makes it for a 4.

**#8 (above): A great par-5 that demands you fade your tee shot. The angle of this photo should tell you that I failed. Your second shot must carry the ravine, ideally with a draw, setting up a beautiful 3rd shot in. I actually hit 2 good after this and nearly made a bird.

**#9 (above): An uphill par-3 playing about 195 back to the pin. I hit a low screamer that hits on the front of the green and starts rolling. According to our caddy Aurelio, whose name was pronounced so many different ways that I'll just spell it differently every time I mention him, my shot missed going in by a ball or so. Have no fear, I missed the 6-footer for birdie, and made the turn in 41.

**#11 (The main photo at the top of the post): A truly gorgeous and hard par-3. Maybe the most famous on the course. The card said it was 240. Areeleho said it was playing 240. I for some reason decided both were wrong and it was clearly only about 210. I clobbered my 3-iron and came up 30 yards short.

**#12 (above): O Most Gracious One is really struggling. He's even asking Oreallyo for help with his swing. It's uncomfortable because you know that what our host thinks about us is directly proportional to how well or badly he plays.

**#13: A beautiful par-4 whose green butts up to the Playboy Mansion. Yes, I meant to say butts up. I told my old boss Alan that I hope Jesus doesn't return right now because even though I believe He's the Son of God (Jesus, not Alan), the blast circle from God destroying that place would still probably get me.

**#14: Another fantasitic par-5. All the fog hides the beauty of it. I wish the fog could hide the fact I go double-bogey/double-bogey on 13 and 14 to kill any chance of breaking 80.

**#16: I find my game just in when a good round is no longer salvageable.
**#18: The sun finally comes out. A simple and elegant (that's right, I said elegant) par-4 heading back to the clubhouse. I manage to have another good look at birdie, but can't get it to drop. More importantly O Gracious One also has a birdie putt, and makes it -- and in doing so forgets about the pain of the previous 17 holes and tells Alan, "Let's do this again sometime."

**Alan, Steve and I shake hands, thank O Gracious One as well as Areleheho, change our shoes in the still empty locker room and drive away before any of us says something we might regret.

In all LA Country Club is a classic, old TOUGH track. Did it have the same hole-for-hole character that its famous neighbor Riviera C.C. does? Probably not. Is it worthy of all the praise? No doubt.

So there it is. What was I so afraid of? Now excuse while I go look check for plastic explosives under my car.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was really cool, Bob. You gotta' get some traffic to this sight pronto.