Sitting in the shadows of Universal Studios and Harry Potter World is one of Los Angeles’ best kept golfing traditions. Burbank, California is home to most of the film and TV studios of the Los Angeles area, and due to its close vicinity, Lakeside is home to a lot of the famous Hollywood stars.
Designed in 1924 by Max Behr, Lakeside recently took on some renovations to revert the course to its more natural look. I was lucky enough to have a friend, who I was caddying with at the time, know a member, who invited us out for a one day member-guest tournament last spring. I had heard the rumors of Lakeside, but I had no idea what I was in for.
I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of great places in my life, but Lakeside may just be one of the plushest I’ve ever seen. After the recent redesign, things have become more green at Lakeside, and being just over 6500 yards, it had me in my short/tight Midwest country club feels. Not only some of the best greens in the LA area, but Lakeside tests every club in your bag too. Short/Long par 3s with small greens, that are all well protected by bunkers. A perfect combo of long, mid, and short par 4s that will have you going for it from the tee, or playing strategically with a safe/straight play to keep it out of the thick-full rough. Tight par 5s that require accurate tee shots and strategically placed second shots to be attacked from the proper angles.
Although the golf course is great, there’s a certain vibe around Lakeside that just makes it “cool.” That vibe is because you never know who you might run into around the next corner. Walking through the locker room you got to see names on lockers such as Justin Timberlake, Ray Ramono, Bing Crosby, Joe Pesci, Frank Sinatra, Andy Garcia, Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, George Lopez, Adam Levine, and many more. You just feel in awe of what you’re taking in, in your surroundings, because you normally just see these people on TV. Things you can’t find or see just anywhere is what separates Lakeside.
After our round, we convened in the men’s grill for a couple beers. It was incredible to sit in the grill, and look up on the Club Champions board to see a like name Bing Crosby up there 5-times. Not only that, but sitting right behind me is Richard Karn, or maybe better known as Al Borland, from the show Home Improvement. A show that I loved watching growing up. A man comes up and shakes our host members hand and it just so happens to be David Olsen, who is the father of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and a multiple club champion. You never know who you might run into, and it keeps you on your toes during your visit.
A few minutes later, I decided to go get some food from a nearby room. I find the buffet style layout, and start making up some tacos. As I’m making the tacos, for some reason I look up and look out a nearby door window. As I look up, I find myself staring eye to eye with Joe Pesci. He’s outside on his cell phone smoking a cigarette, and staring right at me. The intimidation set in, and I quickly made up my tacos and didn’t look up again. Joe Pesci isn’t very tall, but that moment may have been one of the most terrifying of my life. Pesci owns the “mobster” persona, as he even drives a Lincoln Town Car with Nevada plates, and for me, that moment defined his persona. I got stared down by one of the Goodfellas while I made tacos. Makes me laugh.
Lakeside Golf Club is a special place, it’s not a top 100, but still one of my favorite courses I’ve had the privilege to play. Not only for the famous membership, but for world class golf as well. It’s hard to compete with LACC, Riviera, Bel-Air, and Sherwood CC of the Los Angeles area, but Lakeside more than holds its own with the big boys. At any point in the round you can look up and see Universal Studios up on the cliff, as well as the mountains and hills that are home to the Hollywood Sign (on the opposite side). It’s a great stop, and in my mind, LA’s “hidden gem.” If you love the short/tight country clubs, then Lakeside Golf Club is a must play for you.