SCARY SLOW: Our writer on the 18th tee.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Rancho Park Golf Course, former site of the Los Angeles Open, is a beloved muni in the heart of the city. Fittingly, the course gets about as much traffic as the 405. Sometimes more. Here's a detailed account of a real-live round played there in April.

\n11:00 a.m.: Water bottle, trail mix, sunblock, Band- Aids. Show up for a midweek round at Rancho Park with enough provisions for a Himalayan trek.

\n11:10: Check in with starter for 11:36 tee time. Good news: "There's been a cancellation, so we can put you out in the 11:15 slot." Bad news: "We're running about 15 minutes behind."

\n11:36: Still on deck.

\n11:40: Introduce yourself to your playing partners, and to the group ahead of you, on the first tee. You know you'll be seeing lots of them.

\n12:14 p.m.: Play the first two holes in 30 minutes. Keep this up, and you'll finish in five hours.

\n12:15: Or not. On the tee box of the par-3 third, enough golfers to seat a jury. Or a Hollywood remake of 12 Angry Men.

\n1:40: Two hours. Six holes. You do the math.

\n2:12: 8th hole. Water gone. Thirsty. So thirsty.

\n2:56: Squirrel joins you on 10th tee box. Sociable creature, accustomed to human company.

\n2:58: Group behind joins you and squirrel on 10th tee. As they approach, you make exasperated gesture, showing that a) you sympathize and b) holdup is not your fault.

\n3:02: Consider rationing trail mix.

\n3:24: 13th fairway. If you look closely, you can see the grass grow.

\n3:31: Three-putt 13th green. Make elaborate show of fixing "spike mark" to allay suspicions of those behind you that holdup is, in fact, your fault.

\n4:10: Player in group ahead walks from cart to ball empty-handed. Finds yardage plate. Returns to cart to select club. Returns to ball. Lines up shot. Backs off. Takes two practice swings. Takes one real swing. Advances ball three feet.

\n4:20: Trail mix gone. Hungry. So hungry.

\n4:22: 15th tee. Downtime. Work on pronating before supination. Or is it the other way around?

\n4:31: More downtime. Scribble notes on scorecard for sitcom pilot: Everybody Hates Waiting.

\n4:42: 16th tee. Dangerously famished. Here, squirrel, squirrel.

\n5:10: Philosophical question: If the golfer in front of you plumb-bobs for quintuple bogey and only you see him do it, are you hallucinating?

\n5:11: Answer: no.

\n5:19: 18th fairway. Check watch. Promise self: find more productive uses for your time.

\n5:38: Return to starter. Reserve tee time for following week.

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