Southern California is home to some of the best and most exclusive golf destinations in the world. Whether you golf for pleasure or for business, the vast array of courses located in our very backyards should not be missed. A phenomenal networking tool, belonging to one of these exclusive golf and country clubs could have you playing rounds with some of the world’s most popular actors, powerful politicians, and even world-class athletes.
Perhaps the most elite course in Los Angeles is the Pacific Palisade's Riviera Country Club. This course is second to none and has been home to some of the most prestigious tournaments: one U.S. Open, two PGA Championships, & one U.S. Senior Open. This illustrious members-only haven evokes LA's eponymous allure -- it was once a popular hangout for Humphrey Bogart in his heyday. Although the course has gone through some cosmetic repairs, the course has not been drastically changed since its inception in 1927.
The front nine is inviting yet challenging at the same time; Riviera opens with a short par five that tempts players to use their driver, but they must be careful, as there is a lot of room for the ball to travel out of bounds on the left side. One of golf’s all-time best players, Ben Hogan, has called the fourth hole “the best par 3 in America.” The front nine challenges players throughout each hole with narrow fairways and well-placed bunkers. It's not the longest nine holes, but the litany of obstacles makes it enough of a test for any golfer to want to play again.
The back nine tests players' moxie. The tenth hole is a short par four, and the farther the ball is hit, the easier scoring will be. However, if your tee shot is less than desirable, a plethora of bunkers in the fairway and near the green protect the hole. The back nine boasts holes with multi-tiered greens, blind tee shots, and windy conditions because of the breeze that whips off of the Pacific Ocean.
Par is 71 for 18 holes and has a total yardage of just a hair over 7,000 yards.
Another exclusive, swoon-worthy Los Angeles adjacent course is the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. This breathtaking, public club boasts exquisite views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island and is home to the annual Michael Douglas Pro-Celebrity and Friends Golf Tournament. Trump National Golf Club offers everything you’d come to expect out of a Trump owned property; it is the apex of the luxurious public golf experience. It has world renowned dining, unrivaled customer service, a 45,000 square foot club house, state of the art locker rooms, a stocked-to-the-brim pro shop, and even a grand ballroom. The course itself was designed by famous golf course designer Pete Dye and offer golfers a challenging yet scenic day of play.
The Los Angeles Country Club is another top-tier Los Angeles golfing destination, and is located mere blocks from the UCLA campus. In 2010, LACC unveiled a new links course, meaning one that is flatter and longer than most normal golf courses. The ‘links’ style is refreshing for LA golfers and pays homage to the style in which the first ever golf courses were designed. Many golfers enjoy this style, as there are less obstacles than regular, non-links styled courses. LACC boasts a beautiful ballroom, wonderful restaurant, and is an all-around top quality exclusive club that is truly everything LA stands for.
A roundup of the most exclusive golf destinations in Los Angeles would not be complete without highlighting Wilshire Country Club. Wilshire has a storied past and is significant to the city of Los Angeles. Similar to LACC, Wilshire is located in the heart of LA and has been attracting LA’s elite since 1909. Whether it’s a business tycoon or a movie star, Wilshire is often where LA’s most successful tee-off. Howard Hughes was such a fan of Wilshire, that he built a home right off of the green on the course’s eighth hole.
The course itself is challenging and has hosted a myriad of prestigious tournaments, including the LA Open, and most notably, the Senior PGA & LPGA Championships. If you want to play at Wilshire, you’ll have to know a member; one way Wilshire retains its exclusivity is to require anyone playing to be accompanied by a member.
Bel Air Country Club boasts the most prestigious list of famous members, including Jack Nicholson, Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson, Kelsey Grammar, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Cruise.
Bel-Air is renowned for its lush estate and a creatively guided course that makes for a variety of tricky approach shots. Players are taken over a bridge, in multiple tunnels and much more.
Past members have included the likes of Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Richard Nixon, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Fred Astaire and Spencer Tracy, and many, many more notable individuals.
Just outside of Los Angeles, in Pasadena is Annandale Golf Club. This five star private club has been an LA golfing staple for over a century and was founded in 1906 by prominent members of society including Henry Huntington. Renowned golf course architect Brian Silva redesigned this course in 2007; with 6 sets of tees for every skill level, this beautiful course is accommodating for golfers of many skill levels. Annandale is known for boasting some of the best groundskeeping in the world. The course has wide vistas and is known for having some of the best grounds keeping of any golf course in the world. If their impressive course and tournament schedule aren't enticing enough, Annandale's year-round calendar of varied social events, such as their Summer Friday Night BBQs, Daddy Daughter Dances and delectable brunches will make you want to join as soon as you move into the 91030.
As a member of Wilshire Country Club for 28 years, and having frequented Los Angeles Country Club as my mother-in-law's guest, I might be a bit biased... these clubs are all phenomenal, though, and are such a fun aspect of living in the greater Los Angeles area!
The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast and the Lakeside Golf Club in Burbank are also exquisite golfing destinations in Southern California that should not be missed. Are nearby, top rated golf courses an important part of your home-buying search?