Short and sweet
Aliso Creek (9 holes, par 32): It's tucked in a canyon in Laguna Beach, peaceful, challenging, loaded with wildlife.
Arroyo Seco (18 holes, par 54): This is a place for your very short irons, with the longest hole 146 yards. There are mats on the tee boxes.
Birch Hills (18 holes, par 59): The course in Brea has fairly small greens, good variety on its par threes and some tough holes, with water, on the back.
Catalina Island (nine holes, par 32): Tiger Woods, Craig Stadler and Corey Pavin all played this scenic course as juniors. There are two sets of tees if you're playing 18.
Cimarron Resort, Pebble course (18 holes, par 58): This is among the Cadillacs of short courses, beautifully conditioned with desert mountain views.
Eaton Canyon (nine holes, par 35): It's a good starter course for those who have graduated to slightly longer courses. Nice location in Pasadena.
Heartwell (18 holes, par 54): The greens are fairly large for a course that has no hole longer than 140 yards.
Penmar (nine holes, par 33): The fairways are lush. Like all L.A. city courses, you need a registration card to make tee times. Added bonus: small planes overhead from Santa Monica Airport.
Reidy Creek (18 holes, par 54): The Escondido layout is nicely conditioned, with enough water to cause lots of problems and several mid- to long-iron par threes.
Scholl Canyon (18 holes, par 60): An up-and-down layout in Glendale, particularly so on the more difficult back nine. There are great views whenever the air permits.