The Rio Hondo Golf Club is a little known gem in Los Angeles golf. When it comes to inexpensive golf courses in the Los Angeles area there are a number to choose from, but most of them are priced that way because they have little to offer. In researching true golf values for TRG Golf, I have found a premium golf destination at a bargain price. Rio Hondo Golf Club in the city of Downey offers as great a golf package as anywhere.
Rio Hondo was built in 1932 but completely redesigned in 1999 along with a beautiful clubhouse five years later. The course is a par 71, measuring 6,360 yards with a slope of 122. It is consistently maintained to standards far beyond what one would expect from a municipal course. The fairways are Bermuda grass, which, while dormant in the winter months, offers a wonderful playing surface and the Bermuda greens are superior to the poa annua greens of the other munies in the area.
The front nine is the slightly more demanding side with difficult par 4 holes at numbers 1, 2, 5 and 9. The somewhat unusual routing features back to back par 5’s (3&4) and back to back par 3’s (7&8). The 8th hole in particular is a brute. It plays 232 from the blue tees and no one who makes a 3 there leaves without a smile.
The back nine features three par 3’s, two par 5’s and a variety of long and short par 4’s with 18 a testing 424 yard dogleg right. If you are a fan of waterfalls, like Donald Trump, Rio Hondo has two of them without the Trump greens fees. In the winter, if there’s been some snow, like this year, views of the snow covered mountains from the 15th fairway are gorgeous.
If you want a golf vacation for a day, make a tee time at Rio Hondo. Steve LaBarge, the head pro, and his staff are unfailingly courteous and eager to make your round a pleasure. If you’re in the market for some new clubs, Steve will beat the major golf store prices. There is a fine snack bar at the turn and a cart girl to bring refreshments to those who can’t wait for the snack bar, but if you’ve got an appetite after playing, Rio Hondo offers something very rare at municipal courses, a restaurant with terrific food. Try the chicken quesadilla, one of their huge burgers, sandwiches or a Cobb salad. For a great golf experience swing by Rio Hondo Golf Club. It’s a terrific value and you will enjoy the day there.
By Stephen Friend, Avid Golfer and TRG Golf Contributor