Where to play golf in Los Angeles: The ultimate buddies’ trip guide

Pelican Hill

Pelican Hill is long on ocean views.

Courtesy of Pelican Hill Resort

The PGA Tour is in Los Angeles this week, land of high-end private clubs and crowded munis.

If you’re headed this way soon, and you’re not a Riviera member like, say, Mark Wahlberg, where can you peg it with your entourage?

Here are some thoughts. 

While many of the city and county-run courses are great fun (grand layouts like Rancho Park and Griffith Park come to mind), their tee sheets are jammed and the often narrow windows in which reservations open make long-term planning tough. You can’t count on them for your group.

Plus, those courses don’t have accommodations, either. Better look elsewhere to stay-and-play.

One obvious choice is Industry Hills, a 36-hole complex with a pair of William F. Bell designs, the Eisenhower and Zaharias, also known as the Ike and the Babe. The Ike is the longer of the two, and has staged multiple U.S. Open qualifiers as well as LPGA and PGA Tour Champions events. The Babe is tighter, with smaller targets. It’s a different kind of challenge, and a nice complement to its sibling. In addition to sharing architectural DNA, both courses are kept in pristine condition. And they’re tied to on-site accommodations at the Pacific Palms Resort. You can play two rounds, bed down, then get up at daybreak and do it again.

industry hills golf near los angeles
Industry Hills offers up 36 holes. Patrick Koenig

From LAX, it’s roughly 35 miles east to Industry Hills, which takes about, well, depends on traffic. The same is true if you head south along the coast. This is the route to Terranea, in Rancho Palos Verdes, a family-friendly resort with a terrific nine-hole par-3 layout. Designed by Todd Eckenrode, the course has a linksy look and feel, with lots of ground game options, and you can whip around it quickly.

Consider it a warmup for another destination a bit farther down: the Resort at Pelican Hill, in Newport Beach. As at Industry Hills, you’ll find a pair of courses here, the North and South, though these are the work of Tom Fazio, who stitched his routings atop oceanside bluffs. The resort itself is upscale, with refined dining and a luxurious spa that make it a sweet couples’ destination. But there’s enough golf to sustain you from dawn to dusk, on layouts with wide fairways and million-dollar views, which is less than the price of a starter home nearby.

You’ll notice we’ve been ranging well beyond the city limits. So it goes in L.A., which offers little in the way privately operated daily-fee play. You have to hit the road to land at a resort. You might follow the lead of the Golden Age architect George Thomas, the man behind L.A.’s famed private trifecta (Riviera, Los Angeles Country Club and Bel Air). Back in his day, Thomas also spent time in Ojai, about an hour up the coast, where he left his imprint on a fine 18-holer at Ojai Valley Inn. The course has been around since 1923.

ojai valley golf course near los angeles
The serene setting at Ojai Valley. Courtesy Ojai Valley

At this point, you’re in Ventura County, a long way from where you touched down to start your trip. But so it goes in L.A. You can’t plan a trip here and expect not to drive. While you’re in the car, you always have the option of turning inland and motoring on past Industry Hills. Before you know it, you’ll be in a golf-rich destination where many Angelenos go to get their hacks in: Palm Springs.

Josh Sens

Golf.com 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.