Each week this season, TravelGolf.com is highlighting a key college football matchup and looking at the golf options around the home team's campus. This Saturday the USC Trojans host Ohio State at Los Angeles Coliseum. Here's a look at the golf courses in and around L.A.
LOS ANGELES - Sure, not every male USC fan wears makeup, sports a fake tan and sips wine coolers in the pregame tailgate.
And not every Ohio State supporter is going to show up in Los Angeles in overalls, driving a beaten-up, rusted-out pickup truck, screaming "Yeehaw!" from their buck teeth.
But pretending they will makes one of the biggest college football games of the last decade even more fun. When No. 5 Ohio State and No. 1 USC meet Sept. 13 in a prime time (8 p.m. EST) showdown, the national championship race won't be the only thing drastically effected. Truth is, this game might be even bigger to the fan bases of two of the most storied programs in college football history than to the future NFL players on the field.
These days you can still often win a national title with one loss, after all. But you cannot get back bragging rights from a game that USC and Ohio State fans have been talking about since early last year. This is the matchup that Internet message boards were made for.
"It's almost bigger than the Michigan game, because we beat Michigan every year, and these L.A. guys are almost even more annoying," self described Ohio State super fan Alan Jackson said. "It's true they wear makeup, too. The guys."
Well, maybe some of them. After all, this is Hollywood, and you never know when you'll run into a casting agent in the beer bong line.
First-time visitors to Los Angeles Coliseum will be surprised to see how early in the morning the parking lots fill up, though. In an area where Dodgers fans are notorious for leaving before the seventh innings (even post Manny Ramirez), where Lakers fans are rarely in their seats before the start of the second quarter (unless it's a national TV game and Jack Nicholson wants some face time) and where the NFL doesn't even bother to have a franchise, University of Southern California fans show up early and stay late.
At least they do now, after Pete Carroll, Matt Leniart and Reggie Bush turned the Trojans into the hottest ticket in town a few years ago - and the buzz survived two years of John David Booty at quarterback. Yes, USC fans are often glossed for being nothing more than L.A.-trend-jumping frontrunners.
"There are a lot of USC fans who've been fans forever," said big Trojan backer Marguarite Clark, who runs a public relations firm that represents a number of golf resorts. "We're great fans."
You'll find them on the golf course, too. They're USC fans. This is L.A. What, you expect them to be working?
If you're really down with the USC power-broker scene - and know Larry David or Billy Crystal - you'll be playing at Riviera Country Club. For those without that type of sway, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles gives you a new money alternative with ocean views and green fees you'll also certainly remember (it's $275 weekdays and $375 weekends, though there are bargain $75 sunset rates available for those content with getting in around 12 holes of golf).
Trump will tell you this course is better than Pebble Beach Golf Links, and if you're a country rube from Ohio, you might just believe him. Either way, you won't forget riding your golf cart underneath the waterfall or the views from the hulking raised tees.
Those on a time crunch who just want to get in a round near Century City (where many tourists stay in Beverly Hills' shadow) can play one of the two munis at Griffith Park Golf Course: Harding or Wilson. Both golf courses date back to the 1920s - unfortunately, their grass also sometimes looks like it hasn't been watered since then, too.
When you're in L.A., it's often best to take a quick trip to golf (or as quick as anything can be in the land of the midnight traffic jam). For something completely foreign in the place where silicone breast implants rule and the guy bringing you bread rolls thinks he's destined to be the next Tom Cruise, something that's actually authentic, head up to Rustic Canyon Golf Course.
This place brings a minimalistic look to golf, and for once, that's just not another marketing slogan. Holes really do seem to blend into the distinctive sandy countryside.
Another good escape is to head to Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, about 45 miles away. Don't worry Buckeye fans, there are no SEC teams lurking here waiting to blow you out - again. Instead, it's 36 holes of recently renovated Tom Fazio golf with ocean views and the best hotel that's ever been built across the street from a shopping mall - The Island Hotel.
L.A.'s bar scene can carry an intimidating aura for more than just dorks who show up at golf courses in jean shorts. Forget hip to be cool, in movie land its often seems hip to be snobbish. Still, if you're visiting the City of Angels, you want to party with at least a few devils in slinky dresses.
To jump Gucci heels first into the fray, Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel (www.mondrianhotel.com) is a good beginner's spot. Leonard DiCaprio visits more than he makes movies these days - and if you can nonchalantly lounge on one of the mattresses that's arrayed around the outdoor deck, you'll have arrived. At least until somebody buying a $10,000 bottle of Cristal has security shoo you away.
For something more mellow, but still undeniably L.A., hit up Backstage Bar & Grill (www.backstageculvercity.com) and its rowdy karaoke scene. Big Dean's Oceanfront Café (www.bigdeansoceanfrontcafe.com) in the shadow of the otherwise overrated Santa Monica Pier is even more relaxed with a great patio.
Don't spend too much time at the bars and miss the parking lot festivities on game day, though. You'll have a few wise guy locals screaming out "Welcome to South Central!" to wary visitors. No worries, though. The neighborhood's bad. But it's not that bad.
It's not Ann Arbor.
September 8, 2008