Courtesy of The Daily Breeze
Bob Taylor has frequented Dominguez Hills Golf Course in Carson for 20 years, but those days are numbered - to the disappointment of Taylor and other regulars.
The course will be razed next year to make way for a massive new development called Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles, a 53-acre off-road course with simulated driving conditions. That project was announced last week at the LA Auto Show.
Construction is set to begin this spring but officials have not said exactly when the course will be closed.
The announcement "was a shocker for so many of us," said Taylor, a member of several golfing teams. "We are all really sorry to see this closing down. It's been so good for the neighborhood."
The par-3 course just south of the San Diego (405) Freeway on Main Street is an 18-hole, 2,083-yard lighted course that opened in 1970. It offers chipping greens, a 90-stall driving range, practice bunkers, a pro shop and putting greens.
The course is known for its 20-foot statue of a golfer - just feet from the freeway - that has been a local landmark for years.
Greg Kim of Torrance, who was practicing on the putting green last week, was surprised to learn Dominguez would soon close.
"There aren't many practice ranges in Torrance and this one has everything," Kim said. "Where can I go now?"
The Links at Victoria Park, a much larger golf course just across the freeway from Dominguez Hills, will remain, and local golfers also could gravitate to Alondra Park Golf Course near Lawndale.
But Dominguez Hills is known among golfers as one of the more affordable local courses, and is regularly used by youths, teens and senior groups.
Azucena Maldonado, founder of the Latina Golfers Association, said losing the course will be a disappointment for her members.
"For us, a golf course like Dominguez Hills is a wonderful experience because it's reachable, attainable and playable for golfers that are beginners and intermediates," Maldonado said. "It's a welcoming golf course. Now that it's not going to be there, we're saddened because that's such a great golf course for us to bring in new people."
The Dominguez Hills Golf Course was built atop several landfills, and the land will undergo expensive environmental remediation before the Porsche facility is built, said Pilar Hoyos, spokeswoman for landowner Watson Land Co.
"The property was rezoned in 1980 through the city's General Plan process, and designated an important commercial entryway to the city," Hoyos said. "That's really what started the ball rolling."
Hoyos said Watson Land Co. will receive larger lease payments for the land once Porsche takes over. Representatives from American Golf Corp., which currently leases the land, were not available to comment on how business has been at Dominguez in recent years.
Susan Myers, an American Golf Corp. representative, said only that the announcement of the closure came as a disappointment.
"We have an extremely loyal group of golfers over there that are distraught over the closure, as are we," Myers said. "It's sad that this is coming to an end."
PGA and Southern California Golf Association officials said they were surprised at the announcement of the course's impending closure.
Tom Addis, CEO of the Professional Golfers' Association's Southern California branch, said courses such as Dominguez Hills that are located in highly populated urban areas are less likely to close than ones in more remote areas.
"For a place like that, as long-standing as the place has been, it's a shock for the golfing community in general," Addis said. "It's a sign of the times, unfortunately. Golf is struggling, and we have seen a number of closures in Southern California."
Craig Kessler, SCGA's director of governmental affairs, said no South Bay area golf courses have even considered closing because it is such a highly populated area with a limited number of courses.
Dominguez Hills and the statue of the golfer "is an almost iconic symbol of golf in the industrial area of the South Bay," Kessler said. "Clearly the landowner has made a decision that another use is a better, more lucrative use of their property and that's a sad indicator of the game and the economy these days."