Torrey Pines (San Diego): SoCal's Pebble. Where else can public walk on and play U.S. Open course? Worth every penny. Great views. Stay at the lodge and play South & North.
Rancho Park (Los Angeles): Great history. Great track. The gem of LA munis. Green fees under $30 won't last forever. Par threes all tough. Don't miss Arnie's plaque on No. 18 tee.
Rustic Canyon (Moorpark): A touch of Scotland in Simi Valley. Terrific bargain. Friendly staff. Bring your putting game: Biggest greens around. Blue tees a lot harder than whites.
Brookside (Pasadena): Two contrasting courses in shadow of Rose Bowl. No. 1 long and longer. No. 2 short but watch those postage-stamp greens. Nice patio dining & pro shop.
VA (Los Angeles): Hidden executive course on the Veterans Administration grounds near Westwood. Hard to find. Grass tees. Play early to avoid getting hit by errant shots. Outstanding practice green.
El Rancho Verde (Rialto): Nicely priced, always coupons and deals working. It is wide open, requires some long hitting, but has wonderfully old, mature greens.
Sierra Lakes (Fontana): Again, no precision driving needed here. Spray it a lot and still break 90. Good variety of hole design and especially playable on weekdays. Weekends can be six-hour nightmares.
CrossCreek (Temecula): Quiet, hard to find, usually not crowded and challenging while fair. A plush course at prices reasonable for what you are getting. Don't look at the length and assume you can shoot well here. But even if you don't, you won't care.
Indian Springs (Indio): If you can't hit a driver straight to save your life, this is your place. Some of the fairways are wider than runways at LAX. Greens are desert hard, fairways are well-maintained.
Azuza Greens (Azusa): Not the prettiest, or the swankiest, or the best fairways (although there is grass on some of them). But the greens are mature and the variety of holes is interesting and you can usually walk on easily. There are three par threes on the front, a par five that a 20-handicap can hit in two, a par-four No. 10 that you can drive and a friendly staff that charges you little and seems happy to have you there.
SilverRock (La Quinta): Long, stylish, links-style. Water, sand and desert growth strategically and aesthetically woven against the stark Santa Rosa Mountains. Arnold Palmer designed.