12 July 2016 (Pasadena) I begin my review of SoCal golf courses with Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland CA (http://www.angelesnational.com/home.html). Let’s cut right to the chase. This course is a must play and in my estimation, one of the top-3 courses in my local San Gabriel Valley golf circuit (Rustic Canyon and Oak Quarry also make the top-3). Set at the base of the National Angeles Forest it is the only Jack Nicklaus designed course in the L.A. region. This is no course for the fainthearted (slope @ 136 blue and 130 white). Boasting a very good practice facility and all the golfing amenities any player could require, Angeles National is one of the best tests of golf in the San Gabriel Valley. The layout is “links” style with hardened, thirsty fairways that maximize roll. There are few trees to negotiate with the course protecting itself with waste areas, lateral hazards on almost every hole, a complex bunkering system and complicated, multi-tiered, fast green complexes. On many late afternoons the winds kick-up to complicate matters. So here is the simple skinny from an 11-index…the par 3s will penalize any stray shot with well-bunkered greens and lateral hazards that always come into play. They vary in length from 100 yds. to +200 yards offering an interesting test of the “short” game. It should also be noted that greens are mostly receptive to teed iron shots. The par 4s are the real test at Angeles National. The shorter par 4s require precision tee shots and approaches. The longer par 4s are beasts (especially if you are not a 230+ yd driver of the ball). Holes 6 and 9 feature aproach-shot ravine hazards that challenge all second shots that choose to attempt them. To do so requires a big drive or your second shot will require some significant carry. On occasion, the better play is a lay-up giving you a short-iron 3rd and a chance to save par. Bogey is a good score on both of these holes but I have seen and made my share of birdies on both. The par 5s are well-conceived and reasonable. Take advantage of them because the rest of the course requires patience and good course management. In conclusion, Angeles National is a solid test of golf, well-managed, and enduring the California drought imaginatively by highlighting the “links” nature of the course. Stay away from big numbers (which can easily happen) by being patient on the more challenging holes and attacking when opportunities arise. Angeles National, therefore, is not only a test of shot-making but a test of mind and course management. I have seen many big-hitters attempt to overpower the course only to feel its ever-present teeth. It is one of the more pricey municipals in the area $85 weekdays; $100 Fridays; and $130 weekends so a casual golf round is probably best played elsewhere. You will also run into an occasional celebrity which in itself is a testament to course design and value. The price also makes for a course that is not always crowded and that is a good thing. On a scale of 1-10 (Pebble being a 10 muni and Torrey being an 9), Angeles gets a 8. It is worth your time/money and is a true litmus test of where your game is. Enjoy the mountainous, scenic views when you are there.
Next up: DJ!