Tee Time Tribulations: Searching for the Elusive L.A. County Tee Times
You know how hard it is to get a tee time these days in Los Angeles County? (How hard is it, Johnny?) It requires Job-style patience and vigilant digital skills — smartphone gassed and ready at 5:59 a.m. when the precious new slots go live.
At which point — kaboom! — every last foursome for the next nine days is booked before you can say José MarÍa Olazábal. You might be lucky enough to get a time on one of the nine-hole or par-three courses, which are also rather busy but not impenetrable.
But if you want to play 18, you best put some $7 hi-test in the Edsel and cruise to Ventura County or Vegas, because L.A. tee-times are getting a lot like Bigfoot: much discussed, far more rarely seen.
There is a way. If you waste way too much time at your local muni and keep your ear to the ground, as this veteran codger has been known to do, you might be in for a wee surprise.
It goes like this: Recently, a golf buddy landed a prime weekend time at legendary Rancho Park GC, and within days of the appointed slot.
As locals know, Rancho is the city’s crown golf jewel, forever ranked in the top five nationally in rounds per annum. So how did my goombuddy get so lucky as to land a mythical Saturday morning time?
Because chance had no role in it — someone he knows bought the time from some other dude on the internet, who was rumored to be stationed in Brazil! Uh, okay — obrigado senhor!
It’s easy to make a grizzled pensioner like myself feel ancient without getting suddenly woke to the fact that hellbent hackers are afoot in the pristine pastures of the golf world. I didn’t know those two populations intersected — profit-minded, T-shirted inverts and those of us jolly analog folk in plus-fours and Footjoys. Worlds have collided! Alas, is nothing indeed sacred!?
Okay, let’s take a deep breath.
I recently ventured a look into the nefarious world of things bought by bots — whether it be Broadway show tickets, sneakers or sporting events. That kind of stuff is Pony Express-era hacking — it’s been a dozen years since they busted some L.A.-area sharps for scalping $3M worth of Springsteen, MLB and BCS tickets. Chalk it up to Darwinian market forces at work: people will pay $5K to hear some jillionaire troubadour howl at the moon for three hours! Me, I’d buy a boss motorcycle with that kind of bankroll.
And don’t think the city isn’t aware of such dastardly doings. In allegiance with partner EZLinks (owned by NBC Sports), they employ “bot-crushing” software that can detect when there’s an actual human being on the other end (a poor, pathetic golfer in need of a day in the sun) and not some click-clacking server in a warehouse in Fontana or Brasília — bombarding the reservation line three-trillion times per second or some such nonsense. One man with an app and an index finger doesn’t stand a chance against a cold-blooded algorithm. Better to take up badminton, maybe?
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
But L.A. city golf honcho Rick Reinschmidt insists that it isn’t just some Ed Snowden-or-another in Moscow wreaking holy havoc on Southern California golfers for fun or profit … it’s the 2,500 wannabes waking up in the pre-dawn hours to snap up available foursomes like the veritable end of the world was nigh.
I know of one such miserly wretch who mops up multiple tee-times daily and then figures out how to fill them as they approach, so he doesn’t have to suffer the 10-buck cancellation fee if he can’t find willing stooges to fill out the group. There oughta be a law, I tell ya.
“You have to be quick on the draw,” Reinschmidt said wryly, knowing full well that an understatement speaks volumes. Confession: Personally, I open the city golf app five times daily, certainly not wishing harm upon anyone, but vaguely praying that somebody is in last-minute need of a chiropractor and has to cancel a choice-midday time at Griffith Park or Hansen Dam. Like I say, you should all live and be well, but if something does come up, by all means don’t go golfing! Learn to crochet or fire up Netflix and some popcorn.
After all this grousing, I would be loath to not admit that the abundant new crop of golfers are a likeable bunch, even if that does mean a slight deficit of available tee-times and a surfeit of swings that look like they belong on a hockey rink or in a WWF ring. It ain’t about bulging muscles or mashing things silly, gentlemen — this is a finesse sport involving an underrated organ that you can’t jack up in a gym or with protein powder.
But like I say, welcome to our world — now pick up the pace of play, wouldya? I ain’t got all day.