In another stunning example of why most awards given out by any organization with the word “association” at the end are total bologna, Skylinks was named “Course of the Year” by the California Golf Course Owners Association. Or as their press release calls themselves, the CGCOA. Great acronym. I’m sure it’s going to catch on as quickly as your poorly thought out award.
Listen, I’ve played Skylinks many times. Many times. In fact, there was a period back around ’09 when the course conditions were well-groomed to such a point that maybe it was one of my favorite spots to hack it up. But those in the Long Beach golf world will remember that a certain course groundskeeper left and since about 2010, Skylinks has looked worse and worse, while their prices have gone up and up.
And now this. Best Course in California? Really? Skylinks is the 7th best course in Long Beach. AND WE ONLY HAVE 7 COURSES! Here’s the breakdown.
1. Virginia Country Club- Now this one’s not fair because it’s private, but Virginia is the best course in Long Beach. Have I played it? Yes. It’s really no big deal- I know a guy who knows a guy. It’s well-kept, quiet, green, majestic, tricky, and long. Unfortunately writing semi-controversial local golf articles hasn’t yet paid off for me to afford their annual fee. But maybe this article will get me enough retweets to at least be considered next time one of their members dies.
2. Rec Park 18- Every time I play Rec 18 I’m wowed by the design of the course. It’s great. The doglegs, the par 3’s, the cart girls, holes 6 and 7 stretching you long, but then 11-15 letting you gain a few strokes back. Yes it’s a bit run-down, but that’s because everyone and their brother and dad and uncle in SoCal play it. The old rumor is that it’s the most played course in America. I’ve never fact-checked that, but seems realistic based on the weekend round-time. Am I going to spend 6 hours of my Saturday waiting at every tee box to play Rec Park? No. But for a mid-week twilight sesh and Jost’s Special after, it’s gonna win my heart every time.
3. El Dorado- This one’s my current favorite. Best condition. Trickiest. Greenest. Quietest Public Course in LB. Also the people are friendly and happy. I like El Dorado so much that I’ve personally donated hundreds of dollars in golf balls to their lake on hole 18. Just to keep the course going. I know I don’t have to, but hey it’s the least I can do as I end a great El Dorado Round at sunset. Plus you never know when one might land on the green. I know I’m 0 for 131 at reaching hole 18 in 2 shots, but hey you can’t score if you don’t shoot. Also Shoot Your Shot is my favorite podcast on ITunes and Soundcloud.
4. Tie between Bixby and Rec Park 9- For some quick, low commitment, fun golf Long Beach has two great 9 hole courses. Bixby used to have the edge because it’s not part of American Golf so it’s always fun to think the whole time about what it would take to buy the course and live in the pro shop. But then Rec Park 9 added foot-golf and so it moved up in the standings. I’ve never played foot golf but it’s fun to see the big holes and imagine how good I’d be at kicking a soccer ball into them. I’m pretty sure if I try I’ll be a lot worse than I imagine.
6. Heartwell- For anyone who can break 100 consistently, Heartwell is actually a pretty miserable time. It’s full of slow beginners, I get it. But it’s still better than Skylinks because it’s cheap, you only need a few clubs, you can go to the Regal Begal afterward, and all the nostalgia. At least when you’re waiting on the tee box at Heartwell watching some drunk, tattooed guy set down his 40 Oz Bud Light to hit his 6thstroke on a par 3 while a frustrated 42 year old dad, still in his work suit and tie, tries to coach his 6 year old daughter how to grip a club…at least you can think about how great it is that Long Beach has a beginner course so people like this aren’t on the 18 hole courses.
7. Skylinks- I’ll still play it because I like golf and it’s not a bad course. It’s just my least favorite in Long Beach. Now I’m gonna say something really controversial but some people will know what I’m talking about and I will gain their trust and authority. It’s the only course in Long Beach where the Pro Shop is sometimes blatantly unfriendly. (Gasp). I know you’re not supposed to say stuff like that in golf, but in all honesty every other course is full of your typical really nice people. Every once in a while SKylinks misses the mark.
So there. Seventh best in Long Beach but best in California. Are golf courses being rated on competitive equity now too? Because I thought that was just CIF.
Now for the reality. I get how all this stuff works. They aren’t actually playing and rating golf courses. Someone in the CGCSDNE…whatever it’s called is buddies with some guy in Long Beach who’s trying to promote the city. Maybe the Mayor’s indirectly involved trying to promote his golf tournament which is held at Skylinks, which is indirectly trying to show off East Long Beach because after we started 908 magazine seven years ago everyone started to realize how great this area is, and now they’re trying to develop the SH** out of the land by the airport. I get it. It’s good for Long Beach to show wealthy developers that there is a “premiere” golf course right by their land so they feel like they’re really part of a swanky new community. I get it.
But all the more reason I had to sit down and expose this mess of an award for what it is based on. Politics not Golf. Good day sirs.
From City of LB Press Release:
The City’s Skylinks at Long Beach Golf Course (Skylinks) has been named “Course of the Year” by the California Golf Course Owner’s Association (CGCOA) for its industry-leading initiatives, golf programming and community involvement. The award was given at the CGCOA Gold Course of the Year Awards Ceremony at Skylinks yesterday.
The “Course of the Year” award is given to a member of CGCOA that demonstrates:
Exceptional course quality.
Exemplary water stewardship practices.
Exceptional quality of ownership and management.
Outstanding contribution to the community.
Significant contributions to the game of golf.
Skylinks is located across the street from the Long Beach Airport and just off the 405 freeway. Designed by leading golf course architect, Cal Olson, Skylinks is owned by the City and managed by American Golf through a contract agreement.
CGCOA recognized Skylinks for the following attributes:
Course Quality—Skylinks was built in 1959, at Spring Street and Clark Avenue, as a buffer between residential areas to the east and Long Beach Airport. The golf course was completely rebuilt in 2004 with a $5 million Cal Olson design at 6,909 yards and par 72. Skylinks has been named best public course redesign by Golf Inc. and has earned many “Reader’s Choice Best” awards from the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Sustainable Practices—The course redesign allows Skylinks to become a more efficient irrigator. Modern irrigation control systems were installed, and drought-tolerant species such as Bermuda grass were used on the course and in decorative areas. In addition, the entire facility uses recycled water, saving millions of gallons of potable water that would otherwise be used.
Community Partnerships—As one of the host courses of the annual Long Beach Golf Festival, Skylinks is a big supporter of local amateur and professional golf. In 2018, nearly 1,300 golfers took part in one or more Golf Festival events. There were over 3,000 rounds of tournament golf that took place during the Festival. The culmination of the Festival is the $175,000 Long Beach Open (LBO), played at Skylinks and El Dorado Park golf courses. This four-day tournament annually includes many of the top young professionals among its 315-player field. Several past participants in the LBO have gone on to success on the PGA Tour, including Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Craig Stadler, Peter Jacobsen, Xander Schauffele, and Long Beach native, Paul Goydos.
Contributions to Local Golf Development/Contributions to the Game—Skylinks houses the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame. Inductees are considered for "leaving their mark on Long Beach Golf" and can be considered in numerous categories, including player, administrator, volunteer or coach.