Billy Bell’s Gems at Industry Hills
By: Steve Habel
The City of Industry in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles County seems an unlikely name and place for one of the region’s top golf resort experiences, but – by being a little industrious – you can have a whale of a time here on the hill that overlooks acres of business parks.
The quality of golf is the real draw at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms Resort. The facility’s two tracks, The Eisenhower Course (known as The Ike) and The Zaharias Course (The Babe), are renewed and fresh after a series of renovations that have placed them among the elite courses in Southern California.
Both tracks were designed by the legendary William F. Bell, who fashioned more than 100 courses, including both at Torrey Pines in La Jolla and Newport Beach Country Club. While maintaining the challenges of the original Bell design, the changes, marshaled by SoCal-based golf course architect Casey O’Callaghan, now features a more fair landscape as well as reconstructed bunkers and greens complexes. Fairways were sodded with Bermuda Tiffway II grass and a state-of-the-art irrigation system was installed.
Opened for play in 1979, the two course’s layouts at Industry Hills remain unchanged by the more than $22 million in renovations, but a new shine was added to the challenging pair. In addition, the landscaping was completely upgraded. The two layouts feature more than 160 bunkers, eight lakes and large undulating bentgrass greens.
The courses and Pacific Palms Resort were built on a landfill that the locals once called “Cardboard Hill.” The highest point in the region, the facility boasts plenty of up-and-down topography, with views of the distant San Gabriel Mountains – usually topped with snow – that are spectacular on clear days.
The Ike and the Babe courses contain huge trees, wide fairways and unique bunker styling. “People love the layout,” said Dave Youpa, PGA Director of Golf at Industry Hills Golf Club. “It challenges golfers of all levels without being unfair. The renovations guarantee that golf enthusiasts will enjoy the courses at Industry Hills Golf Club for years to come.”
Impeccable conditions and exceptional service has spurred Industry Hills GC to a membership of more than 1,400 and 90,000-plus annual rounds on the two tracks. On-site facilities include a short-game area, four practice putting greens, a 64-stall lighted driving range, completely renovated pro shop, palm tree-lined cart storage area, lakeside after-golf dining and a spa. Golf Digest gave Industry Hills Golf Club its only four-star rating in Los Angeles County.
The facility was ahead of its time on a focus on “green” technologies. The golf complex uses reclaimed wastewater. Collection systems under certain fairways and the driving range collect methane gas from the long-ago closed landfill that is used by the resort to run generators and boilers for heating and air conditioning. The owners even employed a shepherd and used his goats to clear hillsides instead of polluting machinery.
Ike Boasts Killer Stretch on Front Nine
Because it attracts golfers from around the world, it’s fitting that the Eisenhower Course (the Ike) is named for the popular president who loved golf. Playing to par of 72 and 7,211 yards from the tips, Ike woos players with its lengthy fairways and big undulating greens. The recent improvements included a softening of the bunkers along with re-graded or newly constructed putting surfaces (six were rebuilt in the renovation). The Ike is rated 75.1 and has a slope of 142. The track has hosted more than 20 U.S. Open qualifiers as well as LPGA Tour events. Until 2003, the course record was a mere 1-under-par 71 set by Fred Couples.
Your first real challenge on Ike is the 386-yard par-4 second hole, where the property’s elevation changes hit you right between the eyes. From a raised tee box, the drive is played to a fairway some 70 feet below to an area bordered at its end and left by a pond.
The third – a 353-yard par-4 – also plays steeply downhill, but make birdie while you can. Hole Nos. 4 (a 471-yard par-4), 5 (a 237-yard par-3 with an elevated green), 6 (at 496 yards one of the toughest two-shotters you will ever play) and 7 (a mere 465-yard par 4) will beat you to a pulp. Both the sixth and seventh holes sport greens tucked into groves of mature trees.
Try to get a few stokes (and a little confidence) back on the 516-yard par-5 eighth and the quirky 137-yard par-3 ninth, which features a huge, hourglass-shaped green fronted by a huge bunker.
You’ll love the challenge on Ike’s back-nine as well. Take a club or two more at the 461-yard par-4 12th, which plays uphill and into the wind, and hitch up your belt and swing with gusto on the 462-yard par-4 14th, which features a green that you can’t see from the fairway.
The par-3 15th is a postcard-perfect, 163-yard hole downhill over water, with a wide, shallow green guarded by a waterfall on the right. End your round with a flurry at 652-yard par-5 18th, a hole that asks for all your power on the first two shots and precision and placement on the approach. The huge putting surface sits in the shadow of the hulking resort tower.
There are a lot of blind shots on the Ike, and those playing the course for the first time will find surprises just over the hills that obscure the landing areas. But overall the course looks a lot harder than it really is – just keep your ball in play and grind away.
Babe a Great Complement that may be even Tougher
Bell designed the Zaharias course (The Babe) to be intentionally narrow and long, in the process maximizing the resort’s expansive acreage. The par-71 layout plays to 6,826 yards from the back tees, is a fine complement to its big brother and, in its own way, it may be even tougher than the Ike.
The Babe is named for Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, one of America’s most decorated all-around athletes. In a poll conducted by the Associated Press, Americans voted Zaharias the world’s greatest woman athlete of the first half of the 20th Century. The golf course that carries her name requires superior shot-making skills, a load of course management and a measure of patience. It carries a rating of 72.9 and a slope of 133.
Renovations to the course include reshaped bunkers filled with new, crushed-marble sand, enlarged tee boxes and re-graded and widened fairways. The layout, while essentially unchanged, is easier to play than before its reworking.
Babe’s real gauntlet is found on the out nine. Beginning with the 570-yard sixth – a demanding straightaway par-5 with a punishing bunker left of the putting surface – and continuing through the bowling-alley narrow 315-yard par-4 ninth (don’t even think about trying to drive it!) the final four holes on the front are harrowing.
Most demanding is the 300-yard (that’s right) par-3 seventh, which was expanded in the renovation. “That’s the longest par-3 that we know of,” Youpa said. And the 413-yard, par-4 eighth is still one of the best holes on the course, thanks to fairway that snakes up a small hill to a large, multi-tiered green.
The second shot is the key on the 522-yard, par-5 11th as you’ll need to get your ball far enough around the corner of the dogleg-right for a clean look at the green. If not, you’ll be left with a blind shot over a grove of eucalyptus trees.
The back nine features three par-3s – including back-to-back one-shotters at the 176-yard 13th and the 179-yard 14th. The 13th plays downhill over a small pond with a wind that is often at your back, while No. 14 runs back uphill over a small canyon and into the wind. The change in elevation and direction can result in as much as a four-club difference between the two shots.
More than Golf at Pacific Palms Resort
Industry Hills GC’s staff of PGA professionals specializes in tournaments and corporate outings for groups up to 400 people. And there are plenty of things for those folks to do when their time on the links is through.
Pacific Palms Resort was also recently renovated, and the 650-acre property features 292 oversized guest rooms, each with a balcony. The resort offers a variety of food and beverage options including fireside dining and cocktail seating on the patio overlooking Celebration Lake and a new spa and fitness center.
Pacific Palms Resort is 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles near four major airports and four major interstate freeways. For additional information, visit www.ihgolfclub.com.
Steve Habel is one of Cybergolf’s national correspondents, contributing news stories, features, equipment and book reviews and personality profiles from his base in Central Texas. He is also the managing editor for Texas CEO Magazine and works as a contributing editor for Horns Illustrated magazine, a publication focusing on University of Texas sports. He also writes a blog (www.shotoverthegreen.blogspot.com), which features news on golf and the Longhorns, and another (www.checkinginandplayingthrough.blogspot.com) on his many travels, which took him across the nation and to 105 different golf course in 2009. Habel is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Texas Golf Writers Association.