L.A. golf numbers, for those who like 9 holes better than 18 off the cliffs

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We’re checking out the latest pictures of the newly opened Links at Terranea public-access 9-holer (linked here) adjacent to the new resort and spa on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that used to be on the site of Marineland, for those with some South Bay historical knowledge. We are also wondering aloud how soon this will become a destination course that sees more rounds of golf than nearby Los Verdes or Trump National.

It may be like comparing “real” golf to glorified miniature golf, since Terranea only offers up 9 holes, all par 3, adding up to 1,239 yards … and none longer than 173 (or, perhaps 180 if you go back a few steps). The other two, of course, are in the 6,500-plus yardage range.

Consider it your short-game tuneup to a much bigger gameplan.

And, considering that the Terranea rates are very reasonable — weekdays, its $30 for the first nine, $20 for the next nine and even $15 for a third nine — it should be at least competition for patrons who can’t get on Los Verdes, which only charges about $23 weekday (less if it’s after 2 p.m.) for its regulation run. A more feasible comparison for Terranea might be the Lakes at El Segundo (linked here), another 9-holer that goes for $11 weekdays but has only the view of the Chevron oilfield across the street as its point of interest.

Trump (linked here) isn’t even in the picture. The fees are more obscene than the Donald’s hairpiece — $275 for most times, or reduced to $215 at some other times — and the course has become so frustrating that even the picturesque holes aren’t enough of a distraction to the real problem — it’s just not that fun.

If exclusivity is what you want to pay for, Terranea provides the resort-like nectar. Even if the shortest hole is just 104, the vistas are said to be as incredible, if not better, than what you see either at Los Verdes or Trump.

Besides, according to the latest Los Angeles Business Journal information, Los Verdes in Rancho Palos Verdes has jumped past Rancho Park, Long Beach Rec and La Mirada to claim the title of busiest L.A. County-owned golf course during 2008 (fiscal year ending last June).

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Los Verdes (we believe that’s the 11th hole, heading out toward Catalina, in the photo to the right), gave parent company American Golf some 118,571 rounds played last year — up by more than 5,000 from a year ago (113,351 in 2007), and nearly 5,000 more than runner-up Long Beach Rec, which had 113,705, a drop of neary 5,000 from a year ago (118,252 in ’07).

However, the rounds played per year at the L.A. County-owned courses continues a three-year drop — down to 1.5 million rounds at the 19 tracks, down 2.7 percent from ’07. They attribute part of that drop to the fact Alonda Golf Course is particially closed for renovation, where only 90,506 rounds were played in ’08 versus 103,629 a year before.

The story says that the 25 busiest golf course in L.A. County are public, and saw 2.3 million rounds played during ’08 — down 95,000 from the previous year. The city of L.A. owns seven of the busiest courses, including Rancho. However, when you consider that the city doesn’t separate individual rounds at the Harding or Wilson course at Griffith Park, nor at the Encino or Balboa courses in Encino, adding them together would easily put them as Nos 1 and 2 on the list — they’re almost inseperable.

Weekday green fees probably have a lot to do with the L.A. Business Journal’s Top 14 list — all but one have a green fee of $29 or less. Only the $50 asked for a El Dorado in Long Beach made the list, attracting 91,433 — down from 99,297 a year ago.

Los Verdes was only one of two courses in the top 14 that actually had more rounds than a year ago. The other — Chester Washington in L.A. ($26 a round weekday) — had 102,648, up from 101,158 a year ago.

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