Palos Verdes Golf Club, located in Palos Verdes Estates, CA, was designed in 1924 by George C. Thomas and William Bell, the same architects that designed nearby Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club and Bel Air Country Club. While it is only 6,219 yards in length, it is a great example of a Thomas and Bell design, as they incorporate natural hazards throughout the course that include the use of the natural hillsides, barancas and creeks. The greens are fairly small and are well protected by strategically placed bunkers. The fairways are narrow, making golfers think before every shot – the premium is on accuracy. The layout also takes into consideration the prevailing western ocean breeze, and challenges golfers of all skill levels. One very unique feature is that the front nine is known as “a perfect nine” as there aren’t two consecutive holes with the same par.
As part of our trip to Los Angeles to play Riviera, we figured that we would include another Thomas/Bell designed course in our plans during our time there. While Riviera is widely known, Palos Verdes is under the radar and is a hidden gem, which made for a great way to cap off our trip. The course is short, but what is interesting is that the design is so strategic that it doesn’t feel short at all. Every hole presents a new challenge, making it difficult for all types of golfers. The course sits on a hillside that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, making for great views throughout the round. The routing makes great use of the hillside. Here are a few examples:
The par three fourth is a good example of the dramatic elevation changes. Club selection is difficult here due to the fact that the shot is so far downhill. Not only is it hard to gauge what club to hit, but the green has two tiers which club selection very important. A back right pin is nearly impossible to get close to, as it sits on the back tier and is guarded by bunkers and a tree that sits on the hillside.
The sixth hole is a long par five that goes straight back up the hill. The drive is difficult because the landing area is very narrow. As you can see above, the entire hole is very narrow. The green sits at the very top of the hill, which makes for a blind approach shot no matter what distance. This is a great example of how the Thomas makes use of every natural resource, making a short yardage course feel much longer than its true yardage.
The eleventh hole is an example of one of the many dogleg par 4’s at Palos Verdes. There is much more room on this hole than others, but the right to left slope of the fairway makes the approach into a small, well protected green very difficult. Every hole requires a careful strategy, and many times driver is not the best option off the tee.
The variety of holes that Palos Verdes presents makes it a fun yet challenging golf course. The views from the hillside overlook not only pacific ocean, but the city of Los Angeles as well. Overall, it is a unique experience at Palos Verdes. It’s history combined with its beauty and tranquil setting makes it a great destination for a first class golf experience.