Santa Anita Golf Course

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Coordinates: 34°08′08″N 118°01′56″W / 34.135689°N 118.032335°W / 34.135689; -118.032335

The Santa Anita Golf Course, located in the city of Arcadia, California, was operated by Santa Anita Associates for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation from 1986-2016. New operators will take over beginning September 2016.


The 185 acres (0.75 km2) upon which the golf course was built has always been devoted to recreation in some form or another. The original architect was James Harrison Smith. Originally part of the "Lucky" Baldwin Ranch, Santa Anita's history dates back to the days when its broad oaks sheltered places where Indians camped. Across its broad acres traveled Mission Fathers from San Gabriel on their way up Little Santa Anita Canyon for lumber needed to build the Mission.

From 1907 through 1909 horse racing was a feature on Lucky Baldwin's famed track. The clubhouse turn was right where No. 16 is now and when you're on the hill on the backside of No. 14, that's the turn where the horses turned for home.

World War I Years[edit]

Hangars from the U.S. Army's Ross Field Balloon School, 1922. The site of the hangers is now the 4th hole on the Santa Anita Golf Course

During World War I, Ross Field, Named after Lt. Cleo J. Ross of the U.S. Army Air Service, housed a United States Army balloon school. Ross was an observer with the 8th Balloon Company and was killed in action in France on September 26, 1918, the only U.S. Army balloonist to die in combat. The balloon school closed in the spring on 1919.

Anita Baldwin sold the land to the County of Los Angeles for $92,000 in 1918. A sand green golf course appeared following the closure of the school and Arcadia citizens took it over and operated it as a highly successful club.

Depression Era[edit]

In 1935, through an act of Congress, the United States Department of War deeded 185 acres to Los Angeles County with the provision that it be used as a park and recreation center. The redevelopment of Ross Field was a Works Progress Administration project that included not just the golf course but a swimming pool, tennis courts, two baseball fields, a children’s playground, and a lawn bowling complex.

The Course Opens[edit]

The Santa Anita Golf course opened in two stages. Nine holes were opened in April 1938 and the complete 18 opened on October 12, 1938.

1938 also saw the birth of the Santa Anita Open—held each year until 1955, in the middle of October, to celebrate the opening of the Golf Course and to start the official Winter Golf Tournament season in Southern California. Prize money that first year was $1,000. Frank Moninger personally underwrote the first two tournaments. The Santa Anita Golf Club with the help of a few individual golfers underwrote the next few events. The County donated the Golf Course for the Santa Anita Open. The Course Record established in the days of "The Open" is 62 - held by Ellsworth Vines. Lloyd Mangrum won the first and second Opens with 274 and 278. Par at that time was 70.

The Course Changes[edit]

In the 1960s the 9th hole was altered to make way for the construction of a baseball field at Arcadia Park. The original tee box was re-positioned to the South West of its original location and the hole was lengthened and turned into a par 5 thus changing par at the course to 71. The original dog leg left configuration and chute of trees has been lost and the hole now plays due east and relatively straight. Additionally significant changes were made to the short 281 yard par 4 17th hole where the large expanse of sand on the left side (south) was replaced with grass. The hole retains its name from the time (Desert) but has lost much character and altered the strategic challenge of its original configuration. Other changes from the era include the removal of several bunkers on the Par 5 Third hole and the sandy waste area between the 10th and 18th holes.

As part of the change in management in 1986 commitments were made to increase secondary facilities (clubhouse and dining) as well as substantive changes to the course itself during 1990-1991. The first hole and the driving range were swapped for safety reasons as errant shots from the range threatened cars on Santa Anita Avenue. The original dog leg left 1st hole was shortened from 409 yards to the current 367 yards. The 18th Green was moved forward to make way for clubhouse construction but the total yardage remained the same as the tee box was lengthened.

During the 2000-2010 period small modifications were made to return a single bunker to the right of the 3rd hole (where the original design had three) and a large bunker in the center of the fairway of that same hole. Tee boxes on the 4th, 7th and 17th holes were modified. The detached tee boxes on 7th and 17th are seldom if ever used in open play though are occasionally used in tournament play.

The Course Record[edit]

The current record is held by Blake Moore of Monrovia, California who shot a 9 under par 62 on Sunday, July 20, 2003. Moore is attributed with the current record as mentioned above several holes have been changed since "The Open" era and the course is now a par 71 rather than the original par 70.


Scorecard for Santa Anita Golf Course circa 2010

Santa Anita Scorecard.jpg

See also[edit]


External links[edit]