Driving on Westside Improved

Times Staff Writer

The driving range at Rancho Park Golf Course, among the busiest in Southern California, is under new management and probably will undergo substantial renovations before the end of the year.

Steve Oh, who runs the range at Alondra Park Golf Course in Lawndale, took over the Rancho Park driving range Feb. 21, replacing longtime head professional Ron Weiner. Changes took place almost immediately. Oh replaced all of the range balls and replaced all of the hitting mats.

Oh has applied for permits to reconstruct the range, which for years has been the laughingstock of driving ranges in Southern California because of old, worn-down balls, scrappy hitting mats, a dirt landing area and poor lighting.

The proposed $2-million project includes rebuilding the hitting areas and extending the top deck to create additional stalls, improving the fencing and adding an artificial surface landing area with better target areas.

"It's about time," said Chris Atlas, a regular at Rancho Park. "A range as busy as this should be a top-notch facility. This is the only place we have, so it's nice that we finally get some decent balls to hit and decent mats to hit off of."

Rancho Park is the only public driving range on the Westside.


Katherine Hull, a senior on the Pepperdine women's team, set an NCAA record Tuesday when she shot nine-under-par 63 during the second round of the Spartan Invitational at Corral de Tierra Country Club in Salinas.

Hull, who had seven birdies and an eagle in the round, broke her own record for lowest 18-hole score, a 64 she shot last year. She also broke the women's course record at Corral de Tierra. Teammate Lindsey Wright held the previous record of 65 for about five hours.

Wright, No. 4 in the Golfweek magazine national rankings, shot 65 Tuesday morning. Hull, No. 2, shot 65 in the afternoon round of a 36-hole day.


Aree and Naree Song Wongluekiet, 16-year-old twins from Thailand, and Michelle Wie, 13, of Hawaii, are among those who have accepted sponsor exemptions to the Kraft Nabisco Championship March 27-30 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

The first major championship of the LPGA season, which has a tradition of offering sponsor invitations to amateurs, will also feature Wright, Becky Lucidi of USC, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion; and 2002 NCAA champion Virada Nirapathpongporn.

Details: (760) 324-4546 or www.kraftnabiscochampionship.com


Beth Bauer, the 2002 rookie of the year, and Natalie Gulbis, the runner-up, have committed to play in the Office Depot Championship on April 4-6 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana.

Se Ri Pak will defend her title against a field that includes Lorena Ochoa, 2003 rookie of the year favorite. Hull and LPGA veteran Cindy Rarick have accepted sponsor invitations.

The tournament is seeking volunteers for tournament week. Details: (800) 667-5310 or www.officedepotgolf.com.


Hale Irwin and Isao Aoki have committed to play in the Champions Tour SBC Classic March 14-16 at Valencia Country Club. In 2002, Irwin became the first player to earn more than $3 million on the Champions Tour in a season.

Tom Kite is the defending champion in a field that includes Ray Floyd, Fuzzy Zoeller, Larry Nelson, Dave Stockton, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Bruce Fleisher. Details: (661) 254-3063.


Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach will undergo an $8-million renovation beginning in October.

The Long Beach City Council approved a radical redesign of the course by architect Cal Olson.

The new course will be about 6,900 yards long, 600 yards longer than the current layout. Construction is expected to last one year.


John Mallon II has been named Golf Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Mallon replaces Cleve Williams, who died after having a heart attack last August.

Thomas Bonk's golf column will return next week.



This Week

PGA TOUR Ford Championship at Doral

When: Today-Sunday.

Where: Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Blue Course (7,125 yards, par 72); Miami.

Purse: $5 million. Winner's share: $900,000.

TV: USA (today-Friday, 1-3 p.m.) and Channel 4 (Saturday-Sunday, noon-3 p.m.).

2002 winner: Ernie Els.

Next week: Honda Classic; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


Dubai Desert Classic

When: Today-Sunday.

Where: Emirates Golf Club, Majlis Course (7,201 yards, par 72); Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Purse: $1.9 million. Winner's share: $315,000.

TV: The Golf Channel (today-Friday, 1:30-5:30 a.m., 6-9 a.m., 5-7:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 a.m., 6-9 a.m., 5-7:30 p.m.).

2002 winner: Ernie Els.


MasterCard Classic

When: Friday-Sunday.

Where: Bosque Real Country Club (7,227 yards, par 72); Lomas Altas, Mexico.

Purse: $2 million. Winner's share: $300,000.

TV: The Golf Channel (Friday, 2-4:30 p.m., 8-10:30 p.m.) and CNBC (Saturday-Sunday, 3-5 p.m.).

2002 winner: Bruce Lietzke.

Next week: SBC Classic, Valencia.

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