Monday, January 1, 2007
The best golf in Palm Springs and LA-LA land100+ Courses. Like Myrtle Beach and the Phoenix/Scottsdale areas, Palm Springs and its surrounding desert communities boast more than 100 golf courses. That list continues to grow. Last year, Escena, a new Nicklaus design, opened its doors for play. This year, Indian Wells debuts its first of two redesigns. The pros also head out to the desert for a handful of events, including the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Samsung World Golf Championship and the annual LG Skins Game. For more info, visit www.palmsprings.com.
The Tiger Trail. Tipping out at a mere 6,025 yards, the Anaheim “Dad Miller” Golf Course might not be much of a challenge in these 460cc driver days—nor was it a challenge for a young Eldrick Woods. Woods’ alma mater, Western High School, played their home matches at this Orange County muni. When Tiger was two, he was rumored to have shot a 48 on the back nine at the nearby Naval Course.
The Nissan Open. Put it this way, this is the tournament Tiger Woods has played the most times without winning. The Nissan Open is contested every January at the famed Riviera Country Club (aka Hogan’s Alley) and features several of the world’s highest-ranked golfers battling to keep Tiger from breaking through. If you’re not pressed for time, take a stab at another Southern California golf landmark: Rancho Park Golf Course, which hosted the tournament when it was known as the L.A. Open. Located about 15 minutes south of Riviera, Rancho is so L.A. There’s a movie studio across the street, and the Pacific Ocean and Beverly Hills are just a few blocks away. For more info, visit www.pgatour.com.
Coastal Courses. Host of the 2008 U.S. Open, Torrey Pines is the jewel in the coastal crown. At a staggering 7,607 yards, Torrey’s South Course promises to add brawn to its beauty when golf’s greatest tee it up in 2008. Farther up the coast are Monarch Beach Golf Links, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and “The Don’s” latest over-the-top offering, Trump National. For more info, visit www.scga.org.
Funky Homes. In its heyday, Palm Springs was a haven for Hollywood celebrities. The area’s surreal landscape, sun-soaked days and weekend-retreat vibe also made it the breeding grounds of midcentury modernist architecture. Albert Frey, a Swiss-born architect, was its leader, and his work brings to mind swinging space-age bachelor pads. The Palm Springs Visitors Center is one of Frey’s more famous creations, so don’t miss it when heading into town from the west.
Ventura Ventures. Calling it a “hotspot” is a bit of a misnomer, considering the relatively cool climate Ventura County has all year long. Nevertheless, some great golf abounds. Angelinos flock to places like Rustic Canyon, Moorpark Country Club and Lost Canyons. Other gems in the area include Tierra Rejada and Sterling Hills Golf Club. View www.golfsocal.com for a listing of ’em all.
The LG Skins Game And The Target World Challenge. Yeah, we know it’s the silly season, but the LG Skins Game and the Target World Challenge are two of the best ways to get up close and personal with a handful of the world’s greatest players. The Skins Game is played in November at Trilogy at La Quinta, featuring four players who agree that the Skins Game is just as much about having fun as it is about winning money. The Target World Challenge is played in December at the ultraprivate Sherwood Country Club and features a select group of top-ranked players. The host? None other than Tiger Woods.
Short Sports. Los Angeles has a thriving par-3 culture with dozens of short courses dotting its massive basin. Many of the city’s par-3s were designed by well-known architects. William P. Bell worked with William H. Johnson on his Rancho Park par-3 layout, and Bell’s son, William F. Bell designed Heartwell, young Tiger Woods’ home course. Frederick Law Olmstead Jr., one of the best-known landscape architects of his generation, designed the supercheap ($2) Armand Hammer course in Holmby Hills Park. Arroyo Seco ($15) in South Pasadena is the most costly, but it’s worth it. You can play at night.
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