To say that golf is big in Los Angeles isn’t much of a news flash. It is home to some of the most prestigious clubs, including LA Country Club, which will host the US Open this year, and Riviera Country Club. Everyone has cars, making access to golf courses easier compared to somewhere like NYC, and it’s more or less warm year round. This is all quite simple to grasp.
But there’s something else happening in this city known for its fashion, music, art and entertainment. Los Angeles is a place where you can call yourself a golfer. This means that you identify with the cultured lifestyle and not the archetype of the professional golfer who plays on the best courses. It’s a lifestyle that prioritizes enjoyment over performance, inclusion over exclusion and expression over conformity. Behind the scenes, there’s a community of creatives working across fashion, music, art and design, all united by irregular working hours and a love of golf. And rather than playing at the Rivieras, LACCs and Bel-Airs of the world, you can find these people using the city’s network of public courses like Roosevelt, Los Feliz, Rancho Park and Penmar just to name a few.
“It’s a really cool place to see the crossover of first time golf consumers that are only on the block to go to Stüssy and UNION. And then all of a sudden they’re walking out with like a [Metalwood] camo hat because it looks cool, not because they play golf.”
One of them is Cole YoungThe brand was founded by Founder Metalwood Studio She is a former college golfer at Loyola Marymount University. Metalwood owns a brick-and-mortar shop on La Brea Avenue. This is one of the most popular shopping areas in Los Angeles. Other stores are rubbing shoulders with them Carhartt WIP Stone Island, it’s fitting that the lifestyle golf br should make residence here. “I think it’s a really cool place to see the crossover of first time golf consumers that are only on the block to go to Stüssy and UNION,” says Young. “And they’re like, ‘what the f**k, what is this golf?’ And then all of a sudden they’re walking out with like a camo hat because it looks cool, not because they play golf.”
Metalwood Studio is among the fastest growing streetwear-influenced brands in golf, and its modestly sized retail space houses both Metalwood products as well as a curated selection of vintage golf clubs from Nike, Titleist, MacGregor MacGregor, Ram, and so forth. It’s like a record shop, but for golf. “If you wanted to treat our shop as like an informational kiosk, we could like tell you where to play golf, we could tell you where to avoid,” adds Young. The most coveted finds here are classic sets of blade irons, and those devoted to the brand identity as “bladies.” The store has other functions too — hosting events, offering club repair services and serving as an all around hangout spot for those who want to dip into what Young calls “counter-culture golf.”
Young started his career in golf by working for a company called “Coincidentally”. Malbon Golf It opened its first Fairfax Avenue store in 2017. The Malbon Golf store opened its first Fairfax Avenue location in 2017. The place remains the stuff of legends, an early hotbed for creatives, artists, skaters and otherwise general hippies in the city’s burgeoning golf scene.
Stephen Malbon The brand’s rise is a testament to its pioneering role in the culture. Even in the br’s early days, Eric Koston, Sean Malto, Keith Hufnagel and Jon Buscemi they were becoming faithful followers. Says Young: “Malbon did a really good job of like letting you relax, have a beer, talk to like-minded people and never really shying away from someone that wanted to get their foot in the door in the golf space. It was just like a breeding ground for the democratization of golf.”
“You get everything that you need out of golf in two hours…You could be playing with an old Korean couple that has the funniest, coolest story ever. Or you could be playing with like the Supreme skate team.”
Roosevelt Golf Course is the most popular place for cultured golfers to go shopping in LA. It’s a nine hole short course perched high above the city and nestled into Griffith Park, located less than a few good whacks with a driver away from the famous Griffith Observatory. Green fees are $23 USD for weekends and $18 USD for weekdays. All play is by walking only. Like all of LA’s public courses, Roosevelt has a rich history, having first opened in 1927 and then relocated in the ’60s to make room for the Los Angeles Zoo.
Young compares it to the Max Fish bar in NYC. This is a very unusual comparison for a course of golf. And if you’re at all familiar with the lovably grungy hipster outpost in its heyday, it’s the highest of praise. “It’s just the ultimate. It’s like you get everything that you need out of golf in two hours. It’s a nice walk, you don’t feel like you’re in Los Angeles. You might be playing with an older couple from Korea that has the best, most funny story. Or you could be playing with like the Supreme skate team…Jon Buscemi or Garrett Leight.”
Buscemi, an eyewear company, rents out a space next to Metalwood. GLCO Just a few doors away on the other side of the street is the hotel. Leight is an avid golfer and has collaborated with several brands. FootJoyMalbon Golf, and clearly Metalwood. Young’s colleague Leight is leading efforts to create a community around city public golf. This will connect like-minded individuals across fashion and music.
“The landscape [used to be] very much similar to other landscapes where you have these incredible, aspirational kind of private clubs like Riviera or Sherwood,” says Leight. “But they didn’t resonate with a city that has a really interesting creative crowd of people who maybe just don’t make enough money to be at those caliber of clubs.”
Leight’s solution to this was Penmar Social Club (PSC). Named after Penmar Golf Course in Venice, the club’s logo is a single engine plane, referencing the close proximity to Santa Monica Airport. PSC is just one of many non-realty golf clubs that make up the PSC Golf Club. Southern California Golf AssociationThe SCGA. SCGA club dues range from $100 to $200 USD. This is in contrast to traditional country clubs, where memberships cost thousands. These fees can be used to pay for trophies, posters, and outings at any of the SoCal public golf courses.
PSC is responsible in many ways for Penmar Golf Course being one of the most popular places to play golf in the city. It wasn’t long ago that the course was frequented by a more traditional golf crowd, but this has shifted dramatically. “By creating the club around this golf course that’s in a very creative community ultimately we gathered the coolest crowd of 25 to 45 year old men and women to have this club,” explains Leight.
Nowadays, a typical day at Penmar is a reflection of Los Angeles’s diversity — families, couples, seniors, working professionals. The course can be walked only, and is approximately 2,582 meters from the back tees. Playing music is permitted and allowed in groups of five. As long as your fun isn’t coming at the expense of someone else, you’ll be left alone.
And the restaurant is an attraction in its own right, with many people coming by just to grab a beer and order staples like the Penmar dog, an LA street dog covered with onions, peppers, jalapeños, bacon, etc. The course is a hit in summer, when live music is featured every Wednesday for Sunset Sessions.
Play Date is another SCGA club that was recently established. Bradford Wilson. Wilson has many projects. Aside from being an, Wilson has many other projects. adidas Golf Co-hosting and serving as ambassador Group Golf Therapy, he also has a YouTube show with the SCGA called Bradford Plays, while also sitting on the organization’s scholarship committee and mentoring junior golfers. For Wilson, it’s all about backing up the phrase “grow the game” with actions.
“The kids…who I follow on social media, they’re always posting in their Radda hats and their Metalwood bags. And they love it.”
The SCGA is supported by SoCal-based companies, which further strengthens the sense of community around golf. Metalwood is one of the two. Radda GolfThey directly impact the SCGA Junior foundation’s scholarship fund. Both Cole Young and Radda Golf co-founder Jason Fields grew up in the area and were part of the junior program as kids, and now they’re paying that support forward to the next generation of golfers. “The kids themselves who I follow on social media, they’re always posting in their Radda hats and their Metalwood bags,” says Wilson. “And they love it, they love the support that they’re getting and they love the visibility that the junior foundation is getting too.” It’s a full circle moment for the LA golf community as it aims to push the sport into the next era.
On the other side of the spectrum, the US Open will be held in Los Angeles for the first time since 1996. There will undoubtedly be much talk about. Tiger, PGA TOUR Matt Fitzpatrick and LIV will be defending their US Open titles. There will be many glamorous events in the city and a new champion will emerge as soon as Sunday afternoon arrives. However, business will resume as usual the next morning. Cole Young will return to his La Brea shopfront to re-grip an old Nike driver, and welcome new customers. Roosevelt will be open for golfers who want to play a quick nine before heading to work. Garrett Leight, Bradford Wilson, and Garrett Leight already plan their next outings.