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Open golf courses drive away lack of summer activities during pandemic

Just a couple miles away from LAX, Westchester Golf Course offers players a full 18 holes from early morning to past sundown. (Courtesy of Westchester Golf Course)

By Sam Connon

June 29, 2020 9:40 pm

With limited sports to watch, remote summer sessions and endless canceled internships, a lot of Bruins are looking for hobbies to fill their time.

Any students still near campus have hiking trails, beaches and top-tier takeout at their fingertips, but for anyone looking to pick up a new sport this summer, there’s always golf. Public courses in Los Angeles were never mandated to shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, as golf is arguably the most physically-distant sport around.

Some notable public courses near UCLA – such as Heroes Golf Course and Armand Hammer Golf Course – are temporarily closed, but there are still several other available locations in the wider area. A lot of closer courses, such as the Bel-Air Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club, are notoriously members-only and closed to the general public.

Finding availability at public courses is an issue even in a normal summer, but there are always options for anyone just looking to get some fresh air and play a round.

Rancho Park Golf Course
• Century City, California
• 2.7 miles from UCLA
• $14-35.50 weekdays, $18-45.50 weekends
• 18 Holes, Par 71

There’s a lot going on at Rancho Park.

The original 18-hole course used to be the site of the Los Angeles Open in the 1950s and 1960s, but it has since become a municipal course open to the public. That PGA Tour event now takes place at the Riviera Country Club, which is a private course west of campus.

Rancho Park is as difficult as one would expect a former PGA Tour site to be, highlighted by its small greens that make approaches difficult. Tee times can be hard to come by and prices vary, but that’s to be expected from a top-tier public course in the middle of a city of nearly four million people.

For beginners, there is also a nine-hole, par-3 course on site. And if you’re more into soccer than golf, those holes are also playable as a FootGolf course.

Penmar Golf Course
• Venice, California
• 6.9 miles from UCLA
• $16 weekdays, $20.50 weekends
• Nine Holes, Par 33

Penmar may not be a full 18-hole course, but it was recognized as the Best Nine Hole Golf Course in the area by Los Angeles Magazine in 2011. Sandwiched between the Santa Monica Municipal Airport and Venice Beach, it does not have any water features, which may make it a bit easier for beginners.

It also happens to be where Harrison Ford crashed his personal plane in March 2015.

Westchester Golf Course
• Westchester, California

• 10.9 miles from UCLA

• $28 weekdays, $35 weekends
• 18 Holes, Par 64

For anyone who hops off the plane at LAX in the mood for a quick round, Westchester Golf Course is the spot to go.

Located about two miles from the airport, Westchester Golf Course underwent a redesign in 2010 to boost the difficulty with a long par 5 and a bunker-ridden par 4 on the new-look back nine. The greens are well-kept, and a 10 p.m. close time allows for full rounds of golf after dark.

The highlight of the course is its eucalyptus in the center of a fairway that hosts a family of hawks.

Chester Washington Golf Course
• Hawthorne, California
• 18.4 miles from UCLA

• $15-25 weekdays, $18-44 weekends
• 18 Holes, Par 70

William P. Bell designed over 50 courses in California alone and Chester Washington Golf Course was one of his final works.

Chester Washington is very similar to how it was when it opened in 1953 since it is a walking-only course. Carrying your own bag for 18 holes may be taxing, but it provides a quality workout when a lot of people are stuck at home.

Greens have proven to be all over the place, but the thick rough and flat fairways are signature features of the course approaching its 60th anniversary.

So if anyone is looking to hit the links and give golf a try, there are certainly places to do it. The only thing left to find is a ride to the course.

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Sam Connon | Sports senior staff
Connon is currently a Sports senior staff writer for the football and men's basketball beats. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats from 2018-2019 and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats from 2017-2018. Connon also contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment and co-hosts Daily Bruin Sports' weekly podcast, "Out of Bounds." Connon is a rising fourth-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.
Connon is currently a Sports senior staff writer for the football and men's basketball beats. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats from 2018-2019 and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats from 2017-2018. Connon also contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment and co-hosts Daily Bruin Sports' weekly podcast, "Out of Bounds." Connon is a rising fourth-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.
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