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SPORTS WEEKEND

Southland Focus

September 19, 1997|MARTIN BECK, 36 handicap

A weekly look at golf courses open to the public in Southern California.

Los Verdes Golf Course

Address: 7000 W. Los Verdes Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes.

Phone: (310) 377-7370.

Green fees: $19-$23.

Tee times: Seven days in advance.

The facility: Perched on rolling hills overlooking the Pacific, the Los Angeles County-owned course offers spectacular views of the coastline and Catalina and a well-maintained, low-cost public layout. The 6,626-yard from-the-tips track is so popular that securing a weekend tee time requires sleeping overnight in your car at the course or a quick finger on the redial at 5 a.m. Fairway of double-deck driving range is the greenest around--it's artificial turf.

The good: The setting is picturesque and the terrain is varied, requiring some creative shotmaking. One four-hole stretch on the back nine is especially fun, from the tough 431-yard par-four 13th to the easier 474-yard par-five 16th. The signature 15th--a 437-yard par four--is spectacular, offering a downhill approach shot to a large green set against a lone tree overlooking the ocean. Greens are in excellent shape for a public course that endures so much play.

The bad: Unless you hit every shot right down the middle, you will wind up with some tough lies because many of the fairways are threadbare on the margins. But more frustrating is the excruciatingly slow pace of play, made worse by operator American Golf's policy of sending out fivesomes.

The score: One of the best values in the Southland even if sleep deprivation is required. And if play on weekends pushes six hours, just relax and enjoy the view.

*

Overall rating: 3 balls.

* One ball: No-frills golf.

** Two balls: Worth an occasional round.

*** Three balls: Like shooting four strokes under your handicap.

**** Four balls: Where the golf gods play.

*--*

Hole Back Tees Middle Tees Men's/Women's Par Front Tees 1 491 469 5/5 455 2 365 355 4/4 326 3 183 169 3/3 111 4 444 432 4/4 318 5 189 152 3/3 138 6 559 520 5/5 426 7 381 368 4/4 360 8 355 342 4/4 333 9 411 400 4/4 391 Out 3,378 3,207 36/36 2,858 10 378 370 4/4 334 11 303 293 4/4 287 12 155 139 3/3 121 13 431 378 4/4 367 14 420 385 4/4 368 15 437 425 4/5 417 16 474 433 5/5 422 17 225 206 3/3 192 18 420 412 4/4 372 In 3,248 3,041 35/36 2,880 Total 6,626 6,248 71/72 5,738

*--*

Rating/Slope: Back--72.4/122, Middle--69.5/119, Front--71.8/118

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