Where am I? Everything seems to hazy and all I can discern is the smell of cut grass and trees waving in the wind. Suddenly the number 5 jars me to my senses. 5, 5, 5 it repeats but what does it mean?
Could 5 stand for the 5 hour and 15 minute golf round I just played? Could 5 stand for the number of fivesomes I saw out at Knollwood "Country Club" on a recent trip there? Most likely 5 is the number of working synapsis I had firing into the void after a mind numbing round of Los Angeles golf.
Whatever is "wrong" with the game of golf was on full display at Knollwood, a former country club whose best days are far behind it. The whole property seems to be infected with an uncaring mange, buildings are dingy, the course is hairy and golfers seem to mirror the neglect by not raking bunkers or fixing pitch marks. My round was only snapped out of it's lethargy with a passing motorist yelling at me "golf is for fags".
I certainly can forgive Knollwood for its maintenance issues. All of us should be thankful that anyone is running a golf course at all nowadays and if they focus on maintaining the course, so be it.
I can also forgive the routing which put me in my fugue state to begin with. A guy can only play to so many uphill greens in a row before he starts to go insane.
However, when you add all of this up, compounding interest of bad choices, accruing daily, you wonder when the golf mortgage note finally comes due. When is enough enough? When do golf courses start to see the value in repeat customers actually wanting to come back rather than putting golfers through the mill, without a care whether they come back or not?
Also, how dare Knollwood actually have a tremendous 18th hole?
Embanked left side of the fairway, amazing undulations on the right leading to, you guessed it, an uphill green full of challenge. The land and the course cannot escape its destiny, it is surrounded by houses and the grass choices are what they are but the 18th shows you what the course coulda been. It coulda been a contender.
Sure I have a choice, I could join a private club. Much like parents now have a choice to send their kids to charter schools or private schools. However, is that really the best choice? The public school system is only as strong as its weakest link and it is continually being weakened by charter schools cherry picking. Public golf courses should be making it easier for golfers to want to play there and are the problems inherent in the system better if those with means to go private do so?
New golf course construction isn't necessarily the answer either. Bandon, Sand Valley and their ilk are very expensive. The par 3 revolution that people are trumpeting are expensive as well (The Preserve at Bandon is at least $75, the Sandbox at Sand Valley is at least $45).
Knollwood is golf's deranged present. What the future will be is up to us. A place like Winter Park in Florida may be one way to go. Instead of 18 terrible holes, redesign it with 9 sustainably intriguing holes (well, that is, until we lose Florida entirely due to costal erosion but that is a story for another day).
For more info about Knollwood, check out this link: https://www.knollwoodgc.com/