Golf in L.A. can blind with star power, but don’t forget about the rest

Rancho park in la

Rancho Park used to host the L.A. Open.

Channing Benjamin

In 2023, the PGA Tour will make its regular stop at L.A.’s Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Invitational next week. That distinctly Cali event will be joined on the 2023 calendar by the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club (June 15-18), just down the road. For golfers, both venues are intensely private. Anyone can buy a ticket to watch the tournaments. Not just anyone can book a tee time.

Yet, just as life in L.A. extends beyond its celebrities, golf exists there for the masses too. So, if you’re planning a trip to take in the sights or the Tour stops, don’t forget your sticks.

Griffith Park in L.A. Channing Benjamin

In a constellation of stellar munis, Rancho Park and Griffith Park stand out as the brightest — the former was a longtime host of the L.A. Open, and the latter was the handiwork of George C. Thomas, the Golden Age designer of the Riv and LACC. Gil Hanse, meanwhile, is the modern master credited with Rustic Canyon, an inland layout north of the city that brims with the charms of a seaside links. Just east of downtown, Industry Hills beckons with a pair of beautiful beasts, the Ike and the Babe — pristinely kept resort tracks that are stout enough to stage USGA qualifying events.

In this part of the country, driving is important, on and off the course. Follow the interstate an hour south and you come to Los Verdes, a budget-friendly layout with million-dollar ocean views. At this point, you have left the city limits, but you’re still in Los Angeles County, which seems to stretch forever.

Golf trips are different. Eventually, they end. On your way out of town, try The Lakes at El Segundo. A 10-hole, par-3 muni alongside LAX, it’s the only course in the country operated by Topgolf, and it has tracing technology on its 10th tee. When you swing, the arc of your shot is projected on a screen — the same star treatment the pros get on TV.

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.