Former site of previous El Caballero Country Club

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Los Angeles,
Courses Nearby:
Braemar Country Club
El Caballero Country Club
Woodland Hills Country Club
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Former site of El Caballero CC. No relation to the current El Caballero CC.

For according to the 1931 edition of the highly reliable American Annual Golf Guide, Los Angeles County boasted a total of 14 first-rate 18-hole golf courses that no longer exist. That’s 14 full-sized layouts – public and private – that have dissolved into housing, airports, shopping malls and the like. Most of these courses were of real merit, several of the best being built by George Thomas and/or Billy Bell, the legendary architects responsible for such landmark courses as Riviera, Bel-Air and the Los Angeles Country Club.

What’s missing then, is an impressive body of work. Indeed, we can fairly say that a good number of prominent American cities have never had as many fine courses in total as the Los Angeles area has lost.

Though the competition would be close, we can tentatively select the original El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana as the standard-bearer for L.A.’s deceased courses – largely on the strength of the great sportswriter Grantland Rice’s once referring to it as among the finest layouts on the West Coast.

Located in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains immediately north of today’s Braemar Country Club, El Caballero was a scenic private track designed primarily by Bell (with suggestions from Thomas) in 1926. Routed through parts of two large canyons, it measured a then-stout 6,588 yards and featured among its best holes a pair of famously diminutive par threes, the 144-yard fifth and the 115-yard 17th. At the former, a mid-iron generally was required to find an L-shaped green perched just above the canyon; the latter was notorious for its tiny, bunker-ringed putting surface.

Though the club was the site of the 1927 L.A. Open (won by Bobby Cruickshank), the economic pressures of World War II ultimately led to its demise. The current El Caballero Country Club sprung up on adjacent land in 1957.

—Wexler, Daniel. “Lost World.” Los Angeles Times, 20 February 2003