Friday, March 28, 2008

5 Driving Ranges to Try in the Los Angeles Area

There are a plethora of courses and driving ranges in Southern California, each with their own unique appeal. This post is about the five ranges I frequent in Los Angeles County with their pros and cons. One is sure to suit your needs for working on your game.

1. Long Beach Golf Learning Center: 3701 Pacific Place, Long Beach, CA. 90806. (562)981-7050. This is basically a Roger Dunn Golf Shop with a driving range attached. The retail store is a quite bit smaller than the others in the chain and the stock is limited. There are no women’s clothing items whatsoever and only a very small selection of women’s gloves – mostly right-handed. I’ve bought a Callaway baseball cap here and that’s really it other than range balls. However, it is a nice thing to have it attached to a range since you can try out all of the new clubs. Fortunately the club selection is adequate and the staff is always wiling to order what you need if they don’t have it in stock. The range has a grass section and a mat section that has both covered and open stalls for the mats. There is also a small cafĂ© that has friendly service and a small area where the Golf Channel is always on. One of the best golf instructors in the area, Paul Young, is also based here. The hardest part about the location is actually getting there. If you get off the 405 at Pacific, you have to make a u-turn in front of the Metro station and drive straight. It will look like you are going to hit a dead end or the freeway north, but just go straight and it will suddenly appear. There’s ample parking and mostly laid-back attitudes as well.

2. Rancho Park Golf Club: 10460 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. 90064. (310) 838-7373. The course here is touted as the busiest in the nation. It’s quite beautiful and right in the heart of the Rancho Park/Century City area of west Los Angeles. Parking can be problematic as this place is quite popular but I’ve always found a spot eventually. The putting green is frequently crowded and you often have to wait for a stall at the range. This is the only place in the area where I’ve been where random patrons will decide they want to help me with my golf swing. I always go with my husband, and it’s quite obvious we’re together, but men will still walk up and start telling me how I should be hitting the ball. In addition, this is the most pretentious range in the area. It’s a public course, but some of the players have an elitist attitude and will even talk trash if they think you are doing something wrong. One of the guys in the pro shop even told me that there were a lot of a**holes that went there. He was definitely right. Other than attitude, there are quite a few smokers at times and it can get overwhelming. As you can deduce, this is not my favorite place to hit but I’ll pop in every so often during off times to change things up. They have a small pro shop that has mostly shoes and gloves and a restaurant that serves your typical “range food”. O.J. Simpson used to be a regular here and Bill Clinton played a round when he was president. The historic locale has also hosted major PGA events in the past.

3. The Lakes at El Segundo: 400 S. Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA. 90245. (310)322-0202. This municipal range has a great little 9-hole par 3 course for when you just want a quick golf fix. I recommend getting a stall on the underside of the range if you go late in the day. The wind from the Pacific that comes over the dunes can make it quite frigid even in the summer months! There’s a decent pro shop that has both men’s and women’s clothing and shoes and a limited selection of clubs. The staff is laid-back and friendly in here and in the restaurant which serves “the usual” fare. There are many pros here to take lessons from as well and I would recommend Jennefer Jones (head pro) or Aubrey Shaw. Each has a different style but are highly qualified and patient. The range cards are a good deal also and recommended if you frequent the place.

4. Westchester Golf Course & Driving Range: 6900 W. Manchester Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90045. (310)649-9173. This range has both mat and grass stations and fills up rather quickly. At times, it is seemingly impossible to get a spot but the turnaround is quick so be patient for a moment. The proximity to the Pacific is also a factor here so bring a jacket if you stay after dark, even in the summer. There are vending machines for drinks and a 15 hole course attached. If you can really hit your driver far you need to use caution since the other side of the net is a busy street. Keep it to the irons so you don’t cause an accident!

5. Majestic Golf Land: 4301 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90029. (323)662-7979. This place is a trip. You are basically in a glorified parking lot surrounded by nets. There are three levels and the best feature is that the balls tee themselves and you adjust the tee height by hitting a button with your foot or club. Unfortunately, there are just a few stalls marked as non-smoking and there is always some goof with a cheap, stinky cigar (at least spend a few bucks if you’re gonna smoke one). Besides that, many of the other golfers chain smoke and there is really cheesy music blaring over the speakers. The pro shop is rather large, but I’ve never taken a look at everything they had so I can’t report much there. The staff was friendly inside and quite helpful when I had a question. The snack bar wasn’t open when I went and I’ve heard that the hours are sporadic. I really can’t recommend this place highly unless you are a smoker or like to smell others smoking. It’s worth checking out once if you can go during an off-time on a weekday.

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