For all the frustrations that come with playing golf, ultimately the game is meant to be enjoyed.
Whether you’re a low single-digit or a beginner, there’s always something to love about your round no matter what you shoot. That’s what makes the game so incredible.
Of all the world’s golfers, Southern California’s may be the most-lucky. With all the incredible choices surrounding them, finding an enjoyable round is easy and usually affordable.
With this in mind, here are 5 tips to truly enjoying all that SoCal golf has to offer:
Quite possibly the most over-exhausted excuse golfers make is that they don’t have enough time.
That may be true – but if you love the game and truly want to enjoy it, make time for it. Like a good spouse, they just want you to pay attention to them sometimes instead of your job or the Lakers.
Playing 9 holes is a great way to do that. If you can find an hour and a half to go walk nine – do it. Not only will your game thank you, your mind and spirit will as well.
Finding time can be easier than you think, too.
Go to the gym five nights a week? How about you skip cardio day and head to Scholl Canyon in Glendale? Briskly walking 9-holes and carrying your bag over the rugged terrain while your look out over downtown Los Angeles is definitely a solid alternative to the tread mill.
How about making dinner in the morning? Or saving some leftover? Instead of taking the time to cook at night, plan ahead – make dinner (and your tee time) in the morning before your head out the door.
Got a 9-5 job? Play at odd hours (more to come on the subject) and beat the crowds. Getting up at dawn and walking nine before work can be just as invigorating as going to the gym before heading to the office.
Just remember, golf is like anything else – if you truly enjoy it and want it bad enough, sometimes you just have to make the time.
Before you get too deep into this list, I want all Southern California golfers to stop and thank their lucky stars they play their golf where they do – the list of scenic, challenging and perfectly manicured golf courses surrounding them is almost obscene when you compare them to anywhere else on the planet.
Because of this, a great way to enjoy your SoCal golf experience is to try to play every course at least once. Make a Google spreadsheet of all the courses and check one off every time you play it.
Heck, make it a game with your buddies? See how many places you can play in a month? In six months? It’s a fun way to experience all the beautiful tracks sprinkled throughout Southern California.
A great place to start? How about hitting all of Los Angeles county’s golf courses? Between executive, par-3 and championship courses there are about a dozen options waiting to test your game — all at very reasonable prices.
Who knows? While you’re exploring all the area has to offer, you may just fall head-over-heels in love with a course — which leads me to tip No. 4….
I know, I know: this sounds like a contradiction of tip No. 5 – but it isn’t.
Everyone out there needs a home base. Home is where you grow, where you learn, where you love and where you feel safest. Golfers – especially the amateur whose game is ever changing – needs a course like this.
When people ask me about my home course, I never tell them about the one that’s closest to where I live – I tell them about the one that feels like home.
For many, that will be one and the same, but for me it isn’t – and I can’t explain enough the value of having a course that feels like home, a course that you know you’re going to play well every time you tee it up, a course that puts your mind at ease just driving through the entrance.
Southern California golfers are blessed to have their share of incredible “home” courses that not only provide challenging golf, but also magnificent views and tour-like conditions. When you play courses like Vista Valencia, Rustic Canyon, the Classic Club or Griffith Park on a regular basis, it’s hard not to fall in love.
It doesn’t have to be the nicest or best-kept, it’s just got to be the place that relaxes you and puts you in a good state of mind. After all, the best golf comes from the best mindsets.
When you just want to play golf but can’t seem to find anyone else with an open schedule, it’s always fun to go play by yourself.
Some people are frightened by the idea of playing alone – don’t be. Think of rounds as single as an opportunity to enjoy the game the way you want to enjoy it.
Playing by yourself is one of the best ways to play. As long as you’re not doing anything too crazy, the golf course becomes your own little piece of heaven.
At that moment, it doesn’t matter what you want to do. Pretend you’re Dan Hicks, calling your round on Sunday at a major (but don’t necessarily pretend to be Johnny Miller when you hit a bad shot).
If you’re not holding anyone up, play against yourself. Hit two balls off the tee and see who’s better at the end of the round. Either way, you’ll owe yourself a cocktail at the 19th hole – which is a nice little perk.
Bring your headphones or wireless speakers? Unless you absolutely can only tolerate listening to Death Metal at 11, then some light music on the golf course will help ease tension and relieve the sometimes-awkward loneliness that comes with playing as a single. As long as you keep the tunes to a reasonable level or in your ears only, music is great addition to your round.
One of the most-sound pieces of advice I ever received when I first started playing golf was to play at odd hours of the day.
Whether it’s super early or right before twilight, playing when no one else is can be one of the most peaceful and enjoyable golfing experiences you’ve ever had. Having your tee shot be the first one in the air for the day and having your final putt be the last to fall for the day are both incredibly rewarding feelings.
There are a few reasons why playing at these times is a great way to get more enjoyment from the game – the biggest is the fact that you or your group usually has the course to themselves.
This is the perfect time to learn and improve your game with need to feel hurried by a group behind you or fret the wandering eyes of those around you. There’s a certain serenity that comes with playing before the rooster crows or as the sun is setting that you just can’t get finishing up at 3pm and walking to a still-packed parking lot.
Speaking of the setting sun, another reason to play at odd hours is to see the course in a different light – literally.
Unless you’ve been on dawn patrol and seen the sun break through the trees and scatter beams of light across the dew-covered fairways at Los Verdes Golf Club or watched the sky turn blood orange as the sun disappears over the horizon as you make the final putt of the day at the Mountain Course at La Quinta, then you’ve never fully experienced the intrinsic beauty that comes with the game regardless of the bogeys (or birdies).
In fact, once you’ve made playing at odd hours a habit, I’d be you don’t go back to playing mid-afternoon rounds on the weekends unless you have no other choice.
Find the time to take care of your golf game and it’ll take care of you. Follow these steps and you’ll fall in love with the game and have something to do for the rest of your life.