For 15 years, Elliott Gorin has played at least once a week at the Rancho Park Golf Course.
But when he and his three partners arrived at the West Los Angeles course Friday, they saw a course damaged by last Sunday's heavy rain--and a bit of an oil spill.
Several holes at the popular course, which has been the site of several L.A. Open tournaments, were soaked by a mixture of water and oil from nearby wells caused by last weekend's rain. Five holes had flooding problems and the fourth, fifth and 18th holes were so bad that golfers had to play short.
"I didn't find out about it until it was time to play," said Gorin, who lives near the course. "We all were very disappointed when we saw that. It's a shame because they had finally got the course in great shape.
"When you play on the course like it is now, it is not a legit round. It's frustrating and disappointing for everybody. I'm sure there will be some people who will go elsewhere to play until it's back to normal."
Since Sunday, the maintenance crew at Rancho Park has been working hard to clear the excess water from the course. What has made the problem more difficult is that oil seepage from the nearby wells has mixed with the water flowing from the course's ground water storage container.
"I didn't know about the problem until Tuesday," said Clyde Blake, Rancho Park's golf starter supervisor. "The maintenance staff was aware Sunday, even when the rain was falling, but there was nothing they could do."
According to Blake, the rain came down faster than the course's drainage pump could work.
Rancho Park officials do not expect the course to fully recover until April. The damaged holes must be completely drained and the contaminated soil and grass has to be replaced. It will then take nearly two months for the new sod to be settled.
For now, Blake says, golfers will have to adjust to playing on a shorter course. Instead of having the normal par-five on the fourth hole, par-four on the fifth and par-five on the 18th, golfers are playing the affected holes at par-four, par-three and par-three, respectively.