Named a top place to play in Southern California by Golf Digest, the course at Rio Hondo Golf Club leads players on a zigzagging path toward glimpses of glittering lakes and waterfalls. Separated from adjacent holes by aisles of stately pine, the narrow fairways traverse rolling hills and mounds strategically placed to create tricky lies and inhibit golf-cart drag racing. When a rusty swing holds back progress, the club facilitates game improvement with a lighted, 30-stall practice range, as well as lessons with head PGA professional Steve Labarge and his band of instructors. The new 23,000-square-foot clubhouse houses the buzz of activity, inviting players to down cold beers while enjoying the emerald panorama.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-71 course
Total length of 6,360 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 70.5 from the back tees
Course slope of 122 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
A nonprofit organization, Shoestring City Ranch is run by instructors that dedicate their time to teach teamwork and leadership skills to city-slicker kids by having them work with rescued animals. The environmentally friendly ranch hosts clinics on communicating with pets and group horseback-riding classes that teach everyone from tots to adults how to groom and ride. They also host fun events in addition to classes, such as the 5K Gallop and 1-Mile Tot Trot and a Roping Clinic 101, where a professional rodeo cowboy teaches students how to use a lasso.
While many golf instructors compete on professional tours, few can also include the title of “TV star” on their resumés. John Lepak of Renaissance Golf Academy is one of those few: in addition to touring for the better part of a decade, he appeared as a contestant on Golf Channel’s reality show Big Break, which awards pro-tour exemptions to the winner of the show’s various challenges. Students of all levels can gain from John’s expertise and see if he really looks 12 feet tall off camera by enrolling in lessons at his private academy, where they’ll hone putting strokes on a 6,000-square-foot putting green and shore up full swings on the 16-tee driving range. Each lesson incorporates video analysis, providing immediate feedback of golfers’ swing mechanics.
Since it was built in 1965, Pico Rivera Golf Course has attracted challengers hoping to bag birdies and dodge bogies on its nine-hole layout. After a significant renovation in 2012, the course features wide emerald fairways dotted with sandy bunkers, glimmering ponds, and mature, 40-year-old trees to challenge shots. Play can continue even after dark, as both the course and driving range are lit by overhead lights until 10 p.m. to chase away the ghosts that second-guess club choices.
Pacific Diving Academy USA was founded in 1996 with a total of five diving students. Out of those humble beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown into a multifaceted institute for diving and gymnastics. At PDA's two training centers, coaches school students in all three sports while showing them how to maximize their abilities and become leaders. This positive environment helps kids of all ages thrive. In fact, the gymnastics program is open to tots who are just 12 months old, right around the time when they start to walk and sing The Star-Spangled Banner.