Monday, June 25, 2018

The Haze Of Knollwood

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.

I also can't blame Knollwood for sending out fivesomes in 8 minute increments. They clearly have people willing to cast their sanity easily into the wind to play there so why not jam up the course with as many people as it can handle?

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:


  1. I lived in SoCal for many years. I avoided playing on weekends due to crowds. One of the maintenance issues facing the course may be the cost of water. In San Diego County where I used to live, several courses have closed recently. One just announced, blamed the closure on the ongoing increases in water rates. I have never wanted to go private. Some of it is the attitudes witnessed and just not wanting to feel tied to playing the same course. I have had the opportunity over the 50 some years of playing golf to play several very private clubs. Guess what, people don't repair ball marks and leave bunkers unraked just like on public courses. For middle income golfers many places are out of the price range. As much as I enjoyed my last trip to Bandon in 2010, I don't know that I could afford it now. I played Sand Valley last summer while attending the US Open. It was a great course but I won't spend that kind of money to travel to Wisconsin to do it again and the quoted $350 green fee and $100 caddie fee puts Erin Hills out of my range. These days I rely on GolfNow and senior rates to play a variety of courses here in the Dallas area. Conditions vary but it is still golf. I don't know of any courses here sending off fivesomes. You would think the course management would figure out cramming people on the course and slowing down play becomes counter productive at some point to generating revenue.

    1. Thanks for the comment Ritch, you and I sound really similar. I am very cautious about wedding myself to one course and would prefer to have both a home public course and be able to travel. The “home” part of it is really giving me fits though. If I lived anywhere else in the country this would be a lesser problem but since I am in LA, I have to figure it out one way or another.