Golf : Rancho Park Ranks as the Busiest Course

Rancho Park, the West Los Angeles course that was the site of the L.A. Open for many years, retained its reputation as the busiest 18-hole municipal course in the country last year when 125,894 rounds were played. That was up from 116,146 in 1983.

Despite hot and humid weather last summer that led to course deterioration, play on Los Angeles' 13 municipal courses climbed to 1,100,960 rounds--the highest total since 1974.

That was up 99,369 from 1983, almost a 10% increase, and marked the fourth straight year that more than a million rounds have been played on city courses.

"We were elated with the increase, especially considering how hot and humid it was last summer," said Shel Jensen, a City Recreation and Parks Dept. golf official. "The intense heat caused considerable damage to greens throughout the system and also kept many golfers from playing our courses."

The all-time record of 1,127,559 in 1974 might have been eclipsed had not the two Griffith Park courses, Harding and Wilson, been closed at times during construction of an irrigation system. Balboa (Sepulveda) and Hansen Dam also had nine holes closed at times because of the construction of new greens.

Two nine-hole courses, Harbor and Penmar, ranked right behind Rancho Park in play. Harbor Park had 121,642 rounds and Penmar 119,025. Encino was the only other over-100,000 course, with 116,262.

Harding, even though it was closed for 10 days during installation of a new watering system, went over the 90,000 mark for the first time when 90,427 rounds were played.

If you're looking for a quiet place where you don't need a starting time, try Holmby Park. Golfers played only 3,389 rounds on the tiny course near Westwood.

Golf Notes Jackie Pung, former U. S. Women's Amateur and Open champion, is a teaching professional at Palm Springs CC. . . . Charlie Worrilow, 74-70--144, and Rollie Damiani, net 68-68--136, won the George Ruffino Tournament of Champions at DeBell. . . . About ready to pounce on the Seniors tour are Chi Chi Rodriguez, who will be 50 Oct. 23, and Gary Player, who will make the turn Nov. 1. . . . The Western American Golf Assn. will holds its first major 1985 tournament Feb. 25-26 at The Lakes CC and Palm Valley CC in Palm Desert. . . . The SoCal Lefties will hold their annual Dick Eckelman Memorial tournament today at Ojai Valley CC.

Among the 388 players granted amateur reinstatements last year by the U.S. Golf Assn. were catcher Bob Boone of the Angels, placekicker Chris Bahr of the Raiders, quarterback Ken Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals and former baseball player Ken Harrelson, now a radio-TV commentator with the Chicago White Sox. . . . The Women's SoCal Golf Assn. Midi Tournament for 18-28 handicappers will be played Thursday at Calabasas Park CC and Friday at North Ranch CC. . . . Griffith Park Men's Club will throw a going-away party Wednesday for Leonard Martinez, who is retiring after 30 years as a starter.

Former PGA champion Bob Rosburg, recently recovered from open-heart surgery, has been named director of golf at Rams Hill CC in Borrego Springs. Rosburg will continue to play on the Seniors tour, however, which will be at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, March 13-17. . . . The Vintage Club will also be the site of the USGA's Mid-Amateur championship Nov. 9-14. Mike Podolak of Fargo, N.D., is defending champion in the tournament for amateurs 25 and older. . . . The Pacific Coast Collegiate tournament will run Wednesday through Saturday at Mountain View (formerly Serfas) CC in Corona.

U.S. Women's Open champion Hollis Stacy, who won the LPGA's opening tournament this year, credits former PGA player Frank Beard, now teaching pro at Canyon GC in Palm Springs, for her fast start. "I won the Open but I didn't have a very good year, so I went to see Frank and worked with him three times in December," she said. "He changed my grip and gave me some good swing thoughts." . . . The Golden State Tours line up with seniors at Los Serranos on Friday and the regulars at Valencia on Monday, San Luis Rey Downs Feb. 25 and Soboba Springs March 4.

Mike Reid didn't challenge Lanny Wadkins for the lead in the Los Angeles Open, but he accomplished a feat that may qualify for "Ripley's Believe It or Not." He played the par-3 sixth hole at Riviera in seven strokes for four rounds. In other words, he made a hole-in-one and three birdies. . . . The purse for the Uniden LPGA Invitational, March 7-10 at Mesa Verde CC in Costa Mesa, has been increased to $330,000, making it third-richest on the women's tour, behind the Nabisco Dinah Shore and McDonald's championship, each of which pays $400,000.

Four charity organizations, including the California Hospital Medical Center, will be beneficiaries of the GNA LPGA Classic March 20-24 at Oakmont CC. Others will be the Assistance League of Glendale, the Glendale Symphony Assn. Women's Committee and the Glendale YMCA. . . . Dr. Ralph Mann, former world intermediate hurdles record holder and 1972 Olympic silver medalist, is director of sports medicine at the Golden Ocala University of Golf in Ocala, Fla. . . . Los Serranos' six-ball winners: Herman Sjogren-Brian Chattaway-Steve Lyerly-Bill Lee-Graham Wilson-Richard K. Davis.

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