One of the newest golf courses to grace Los Angeles, Angeles National holds court as the only Jack Nicklaus–designed course in L.A. County. Not even a year old when we played there in March, the course was selected by Global Traveler as the venue for our first Globility West Coast Invitational, open to GT subscribers in 2006.
Nestled at the base of the Angeles National Forest, just off the 118 freeway, Angeles National was a 17-year work in progress. Developers had to navigate a series of environmental hurdles in order to satisfy EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and local fish and game requirements. Of particular concern during design and construction, developers had to ascertain that the course would not harm the endangered Wildhorn spineflower. To complicate matters, area residents weren’t all that keen on course construction, as they were concerned about overdevelopment and potential loss of privacy if the course went public. The fact that the scenic land use would replace what had become an unofficial dumping ground eventually swayed opinion, convincing residents to support the project.
Celebrating its first anniversary in June, Angeles National will soon boast a 3,200-square-foot clubhouse. Like the entire region, the course took a beating during the torrential rains that plagued southern California earlier this year. Angeles National lost the green and part of the fairway on hole 17 and the tee box on hole 18. Repairs are under way and should be finished by July. Not a bad outcome, given that some experts had predicted runoff from the surrounding hills would cascade into swollen creeks and wash areas and wipe out the entire course. And a lesson’s been learned: repairs to affected holes will take into consideration the flow of the wash area, which may prevent a similar situation in the future. In the meantime, hole 19 — which Angeles National designers had the foresight to create for practice sessions — is temporarily serving as part of the course, so golfers can still play a complete 18 holes during repairs.
The course is designed in a Southwest desert style, with Bermuda (Tifway) fairways and bent grass greens. It features two lakes, one creek, 54 bunkers and a number of trouble areas in the form of natural brush, hills and arroyos, or wash areas. The ProLink/Parview GPS, a yardage display in the golf carts that gives accurate yardage from your shot to the pin, is a great advantage.
Angeles National was recently listed among the top 30 new courses to play worldwide and among the top 10 in the United States by Travel and Leisure Golf. It will host qualifying rounds for the California State Amateur on May 9 and the U.S. Open Local on May 23.
Hole 1 (381 yards, par 4)
A great starting hole, no. 1 offers a large landing area for your first drive. Be aware of the large arroyo on the right and a fairway bunker on the left. The green is two-tiered and, depending on the pin placement, you will need to adjust your shot.
Hole 2 (562 yards, par 5)
This is the longest hole on the course and although it’s listed as the No. 9 handicapped hole, it can be more difficult. Power hitters can shorten this hole by cutting off the dogleg and carrying the fairway bunker to the landing area. Mere mortals must go for a straight shot and play this as a true par 5. Errant shots off the tee to the right will find a stand of cottonwood trees with which to contend. Your second shot to the landing area will be to avoid the bunker on the right. Clearing this bunker offers a nice clean approach to the green.
Hole 6 (415 yards, par 4)
No. 6 is the No. 1 handicapped hole on the course and also has the widest fairway. After reaching the landing area, you’ll note the large green protected by an arroyo in the front and another to the right. Caution is the name of the game, but overly conservative players might find themselves favoring the left side of the green, where balls can fall into a hollow. This will make for a difficult chip on the green, either rolling back or flying the green to the arroyo.
Hole 9 (446 yards, par 4)
You will need a straight long shot off the tee on this hole, which offers trouble at the landing area left and right. Follow this up with a killer second shot, which must carry the arroyo in the front of the green. Fortunately, the green is very receptive to shots in, although well bunkered.
Hole 13 (120 yards, par 3)
This is a short par 3 that demands finesse. As the green is small and flat, most shots tend to roll off the mark. It might look simple off the tee, but locals can tell you that making par is extremely difficult.
Hole 16 (418 yards, par 4)
Favor the left side for your tee shot so that you will have a clear view of the green with your second. Missing your drive will leave you with a blind shot to the green and may easily turn this par 4 into a 5. This is listed as the No. 6 handicapped hole, but course regulars think par is an achievement.
Hole 17 (507 yards, par 5)
With its length and a series of fairway bunkers eager to meet your drive, this hole can be your undoing. As if that’s not enough, and your ball unluckily finds the fairway bunkers, a series of smaller bunkers is ready to destroy your recovery. Beware the sandy waste areas on the right for your second landing. They will affect your approach shot to the green, possibly landing you in the greenside bunker, which is large and protects the left side and front of the green. Golfers need three perfect shots to make par on this hole.
ANGELES NATIONAL GOLF CLUB
9401 Foothill Blvd.
Sunland, CA 91040
tel 818 951 8771, fax 818 352 7164
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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