Former site of Royal Palms Country Club

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Royal Palms,
Los Angeles,
Courses Nearby:
Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles
Rolling Hills Country Club
The Links at Terranea
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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.

A second departed Bell gem was the Royal Palms, a spectacular private course that briefly existed in the southwestern corner of San Pedro. The Royal Palms opened in 1927 as the planned centerpiece of a luxury development atop the towering cliffs at White Point. Measuring 6,334 yards (with a par of 70), it was routed over exceptionally hilly terrain and a pair of chasms. The most memorable hole was the 365-yard 14th, a downhill drive-and-pitch whose approach was played across a wide abyss spanned by a spectacular footbridge.

Not far behind, however, was the 442-yard 18th, a monstrous clifftop par four that probably was as difficult as any finishing hole in the country. One of many area Depression victims, the Royal Palms shut its golfing doors in 1933.

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