For years, I’ve been mentioning the striking amount of space taken up in the brains of influential people by family memories of great-grandpa not being able to join the Los Angeles Country Club (so he had to join Jewish-only Hillcrest CC instead).
The Los Angeles Country Club takes up something like 0.9 miles of both sides of Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles’s main drag, right next to Beverly Hills.
Behind its huge hedges, it’s the most conspicuously hidden away private golf club in America. While the largely elderly membership long attempted to maintain a low profile, psychologically, it acts as a giant turf marker, like a dog peeing on a tree, that says: “We were here first.”
I was there in September for the Walker Cup (George Walker Bush gave the US team of amateurs a pep talk to go beat the Brits in his his great-grand-daddy’s tournament), standing next to the 13th tee behind the dying Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. Of course, there was a giant hedge and the ex-Lutheran Hugh could never, ever get in to LACC, because he was show biz.
It really is a phenomenally great golf course. The old WASP real estate developers who built Los Angeles from 1887 onward (and in Los Angeles, virtually nobody can claim their ancestors “settled” the place — most newcomers arrived on the train and subdivided rather than settled) had an eye for land and they picked out the single best piece of golf land for themselves.
Of course, as I’ve been occasionally reminded, not that many people really care about golf course quality. But a surprising number of people care about minor variants in the social standing of their ancestors, such as whether great-grandpa could get into LACC or not.