A blow-by-blow account of 18 holes at one of the game's most crowded tracks

A blow-by-blow account of 18 holes at one of the game’s most crowded tracks

SCARY SLOW: Our writer on the 18th tee.
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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.

11:00 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.

11:10: 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.”

11:36: Still on deck.

11:40: 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.

12:14 p.m.: Play the first two
holes in 30 minutes. Keep this
up, and you’ll finish in five hours.

12:15: 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.

1:40: Two hours. Six holes. You
do the math.

2:12: 8th hole. Water gone.
Thirsty. So thirsty.

2:56: Squirrel joins
you on 10th tee box.
Sociable creature,
accustomed to
human company.

2:58: 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.

3:02: Consider rationing trail mix.

3:24: 13th fairway. If you look
closely, you can see the grass grow.

3:31: 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.

4:10: 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.

4:20: Trail mix gone.
Hungry. So hungry.

4:22: 15th tee.
Downtime. Work on
pronating before supination.
Or is it the other way around?

4:31: More downtime. Scribble
notes on scorecard for sitcom
pilot: Everybody Hates Waiting.

4:42: 16th tee. Dangerously
famished. Here, squirrel, squirrel.

5:10: Philosophical question:
If the golfer in front of you
plumb-bobs for quintuple
bogey and only you see him
do it, are you hallucinating?

5:11: Answer: no.

5:19: 18th fairway. Check
watch. Promise self: find more
productive uses for your time.

5:38: Return to starter. Reserve
tee time for following week.

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