You can feel the history when you arrive at Lakewood Country Club. Located just outside of Long Beach, CA, this course is one of the original gems of Southern California golf. William P. Bell was the initial architect and designed the course at the site of the former Cerritos Gun Club. Construction began in 1932.
Since the surrounding land was predominately very flat, Bell elected to dig a large hole for a lake in the center of the property to help water drain off the course. The man-made lake is still there today and is one of the course’s signature features.
Construction finished a year later in 1933 and Bobby Jones hit the first tee shot at the course’s opening ceremony. Lakewood would go on to host a variety of high profile tournaments including the California State Open, The Southern California Public Links Championship, and the Long Beach Open, which was won by Ben Hogan in 1949.
Today, Lakewood is one of the longer courses in the area at over 7,000 yards from the back tees, and it is certainly a stern test of golf. The course is fairly straightforward since there is limited elevation change, but water from the lake comes into play on 7 of the holes. Although there are several trees that line the fairways; overall, the course is not heavily forested. This can be good for mishit shots deep into the rough, but it can also create a challenge since there is limited shelter from the wind, which often picks up later in the day.
Notable holes at Lakewood include the 454 yard par 4 6th, which is the number one handicap hole and plays as a par 5 for the ladies. The hole doglegs to the right around the lake. Aggressive players will attempt to cut the corner of the dogleg by carrying the water some 250+ yards for a shorter approach, while the more conservative player may opt to hit a straight ball off the tee, leaving a longer second shot. The green is small for the length of the approach shot and slopes from back to front.
On the backside, the 248 yard par 3 12th is a brute of a hole. The hole tends to play into a headwind later in the day and has water to the left. Oftentimes, players will take 1-2 extra clubs to account for the wind, and it is not uncommon to see golfers pull driver in an attempt to reach the green.
Lakewood is a great place for golfers of all abilities. From the forward tees it can play rather tamely, and from the back tees it can test all facets of the game. Tee times are available everyday at Lakewood from dusk till dawn.