So – you’ve decided you want to take up the wonderful game of golf. Congratulations! You’re in for a lifetime of making friends, having fun and finding out about yourself.
In doing so, remember to check your ego at the door, that a bad attitude is worse than a bad swing and that Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you love the game, it will always love you back – even when your putts aren’t falling.
Before you get started, it’s important to remember that for as much fun and as beautiful as the game of golf can be, it’s probably even more frustrating.
If you try to do or expect too much from yourself too early, you’re not going to enjoy the game as much at the start. It’s important to play courses that will make your introduction to the sport the most enjoyable.
With that in mind, here are the 10 best SoCal courses for beginners to play:
10. Monarch Dunes Challenge Course
When you’re just starting out, sometimes the 7,400-yard, 18 hole golf course is a bit much to tackle. If that’s the case for you, then executive and par-3 courses are a great option that will help you get better at golf without the anxiety that can come playing on a course you’re not ready for.
Hole 4 — The Ranch Course, Monarch Dunes (SCGA)
The Challenge Course at Monarch Dunes is an excellent example of this type of course and is a must-visit for any beginner or golf nut. The 12-hole, par-3 course will only cost you a couple bucks to play but will put to test all of your budding skills and leave you craving another trip to the course.
9. Woodley Lakes Golf Course
If you’re going to venture out and play and 18-hole championship golf course early in your golfing career (which I do recommend), you’ve got to choose the course wisely. You may have Torrey Pines on your list of must-plays, but wait until your ego can handle it.
A place like Woodley Lakes Golf Course is the perfect course to introduce yourself to the game. It’s got wide, inviting fairways and big greens, rewarding shots that are good, but not perfect. There is plenty of trouble if you’re not careful — but avoiding hazards is a lesson every golfer must learn how to do.
8. Los Feliz Golf Club
Part of the reason Tiger Woods was as good as he was at an early age is because he learned the game from the green backwards. Par-3 courses don’t exactly offer that opportunity, but it’s close.
The Los Feliz Golf Club in Los Angeles is a must for any beginner because it allows you to play golf without worrying about hitting the club that gives the most nightmares to amateurs — the driver.
The 9-hole par-3 course checks in a just over 1,000 yards long and will only set you back $7 to play at peak pricing. If you’re trying to squeeze learning the game into your busy schedule, Los Feliz Golf Club is a must-add stop on your commute home.
St. Mark Golf Club (SCGA)
7. St. Mark Executive Course
Another wonderful Southern California executive course is the St. Mark Executive Course in San Marcos. At just 2,700 yards, this par-58 gem is perfect for golfers still learning the game.
Like most executive courses, St. Mark fosters learning by providing players a fun and relaxed setting as well as getting you from trunk of your car to the 19th hole in just about three hours. The course also offers both men’s and women’s clubs where players can grow their games with the help of their peers.
Another great golf course for beginners in So Cal is Alhambra Golf Course. Like Woodley Lakes, it’s very inviting and doesn’t penalize amateurs the way some of the more marquee courses might.
Alhambra is a 5,400 yard par-71 course that prides itself on being the home of your best round. For beginners, the confidence boost that could come from playing this fair and fun test of golf could be just the boost they need to stay in the game.
And lets face it — people love to return to places they play well at, so it makes sense that Alhambra Golf Club remains one of the more popular values in the area for golfers of all ability levels.
5. Penmar Golf Club
As a beginner, you’ll soon learn the importance of being able to “play when you can.” Tee times are a luxury you may not always have. If that’s the case, sticking to par-3 courses — like Penmar Golf Club in Venice — is a great idea.
Penmar Golf Club (SCGA)
For all the same reasons as the other par-3 and executive courses on the list, Penmar is a great track for beginners because it take the driver out of your hands and forces you to work on the all-important short game.
Located near Venice Beach, Penmar is a great spot for anyone looking to play some golf while they’re in town — but is a must-play for those just starting out.
For many reasons, Roosevelt is the perfect place for the beginning golfer. It’s another executive 9-hole course which, as we’ve established, are the ideal settings for players learning the game. What makes it special are the views of the L.A. basin and the hilly terrain that dominates the landscape.
Best of all is that Roosevelt Golf Club is a walking only course. It makes you enjoy the game the way it was meant to be enjoyed. It’s almost like meditating if you do it right.
Often times, it’s courses like Roosevelt Golf Club that play the largest rolls in the lives of some of the games most avid players. Everyone remembers their first home course — Roosevelt Golf Club should be yours.
Goat Hill’s 17th Hole (SCGA)
3. Goat Hill Park
Another Oceanside golf gem that is excellent for new golfers is Goat Hill Park golf course.
Originally built in 1952, Goat Hill is another short course built over hilly terrain that offers a unique challenge to golfers of all skill levels.
For less than $25 on weekends and holidays, you can play this beautiful piece of Southern California golf history and cut your teeth on the same track that so many die-hard golfers before you have.
2. Emerald Isle Golf Club
Originally a 9-hole course, the second nine holes were added in 1966 and now, the course stretched out for just under 2,500 yards and plays as a par-56. Much like the other short and executive courses, the focus of Emerald Isle Golf Club is on game enjoyment and pace of play.
One of the coolest features of Emerald Isle is that it’s a dog-friendly course — which means you can bring Fido along for the round if you so choose. Could there be anything better than playing golf with your dog? I think not.
It’s hard beat a golf course that costs less than $20 to play and offered lighted driving range options. From one golf-addict to (a soon-to-be) another, you’ll appreciate the lighted driving range when you grow up.
The 9-hole par-3 course and the lit driving range aren’t the only golf attractions at the club: Weddington also offers lesson and golf academy options for those interested in getting lessons rather than winging it.