The Rancho Golf Course Opening (1949)

Cover photo of the second green on Rancho Golf course in 1949.

After three years of construction and “one and quarter million cubic yards of earth” moved, the new municipal Rancho Golf Course opened with the 24th Amateur Public Links Championship of the United States Golf Association in July 1949.

The Golf division of the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Los Angeles purchased the old Rancho Golf Club for $225,643, mostly to cover overdue Los Angeles County tax bills in 1946.

“One of the truly amazing circumstances in this land purchase and its subsequent development, is the fact that this entire golf course project has been carried out not by the use of tax funds, but with surplus revenues from the operation of other city golf courses, principally those of Griffith Park. Despite a very modest schedule of fees, the City by careful operation and a program of savings accumulated a sufficient fund not only to buy the Rancho property but also to pay for the complete golf course development aggregating altogether in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars.” 1

1947 Plan for Rancho Golf Course

“Rancho Golf course has been designed with the expert advice and consultation of the well-known golf architect, William Bell, George Von Elm, the former National Amateur Champion and Johnny Dawson, famous amateur; general direction of the construction and development of the course was carried out by William Johnson, manager of Los Angeles City golf courses.” 1

“The most careful thought was given to every possible angle of golf play. For example, the direction of fairways was determined with full consideration of both morning and afternoon sun, prevailing winds and the contour of the ground. With the realization that there are more golfers who slice their shots than those who hook them, the course was designed so that sliced shots would remain in bounds but only badly hooked shots go out of bounds.” 1

Rancho’s fifteenth in 1949.

“Greens were placed so as to have adequate air circulation, and each green, tee and fairway was given an individual characteristic with special plantings of shrubs and other landscape features. More than 20,000 tress and shrubs have been used.” 1

“Fairways run parallel with valleys and canyons instead of across them, so as to make easier walking, and tees have been made in such a way that players will not have to walk across the green to get to the next tee.” 1

1949 Rancho Golf course, 10th fairway and tee behind, and club house.

Here is the article from the opening program about the Rancho Golf Course:

1949 07 09 - USGA Public Links at Rancho Golf Course - small 1
1 the 24th Amateur Public Links Championship of the United States Golf Association

This page and it’s contents are the property of J.I.B. Jones/Golf Historical Society. Not to be used without permission.Copyright ©2017.

5 thoughts on “The Rancho Golf Course Opening (1949)”

  1. John,
    I recently came across your Golf Historical Society website and read a few of the articles and comments you have published there. I was particularly interested in a posting you had made with respect to George C. Thomas, Jr. and certain inaccuracies that you were going to correct in an upcoming biography you are apparently working on about him and his career in golf course architecture. I have an original copy of his seminal work on the subject which was signed by his younger brother Leonard who also served in WWI and thereafter lived among East Coast high society around Newport and Palm Beach. I’m wondering what you know about the Thomas family history from their early years in Philadelphia and how they were connected to the nascent Hollywood, CA movie star scene prior to the Depression era. Please let me know if you have an interest in discussing some of that particular family history in connection with your new book. Thanks for your time and consideration.

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