My home course, Brookside Golf Club, is adjacent to the world famous Rose Bowl. Built in 1921, the stadium's official seating capacity is 92,542. That's a lot of people, and, since it's located in must-drive Los Angeles, a lot of cars.
But there's not a lot of room around the Rose Bowl for dedicated parking. So where do you park all those darn global warming machines on wheels? You park them on the golf course, that's where! Of the 20,600 parking spaces available for events at the Rose Bowl, approximately 12,050 spaces are provided on the two golf courses of Brookside Golf Club.
Yes, anytime there's a major event at the Rose Bowl, the Brookside Golf courses undergo a dramatic transformation. Hole #18 becomes Parking Lot 1A. Ball washers and tee markers are displaced by Bimmers and Toyotas. But the real change is the people on the course. It goes from golfers who treat the course like it's a temple to drunken tailgaters who treat it like a Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat house. "We once saw people frying a turkey, and they just spilled all the oil from it on the golf course," said Noni Holt, a UCLA football season ticket holder. "We were just mad because we know it hurts the golf course, and we're mindful of that. It really is a beautiful place." But most revelers just don't give a damn. "I'm sure the course gets torn up," said Jim Guthrie, a 2003 UCLA graduate who tailgated at a UCLA home game. "But we don't care that much."
Obviously, the course is closed for golf while it works double-duty as a parking lot and tailgating wasteland. But the course never gets a rest. After moonlighting as a parking lot, a crew of over 100 cleans up the course for tee times the next morning. Yes, the next morning! As you can imagine, they can't clean up everything. If you do play the day after an event, don't be surprised to find your ball resting against unusual "loose impediments" in the form of strewn Corona bottles and Coors cans. Balls landing in a SUV tire tread or a pile of spent charcoal isn't uncommon. The golf rules for relief from standing water are sometimes applied to standing motor oil. Heck, sometimes abandoned cars are left in the middle of the fairway!
Proceeds from the $25 per car parking fees cover the money that would have been generated from greens fees. But you would think that the abuse Brookside receives as a parking lot would spell disaster for course conditions. In reality, it doesn't. Sure, it's not Augusta National, but Brookside is typically in very good condition after a tailgating binge. I applaud the entire staff of Brookside who manages to maintain the course's position as one of the top 10 public courses in Southern California year after year. Once host to the LA Open, I pray that Brookside will once again host a pro golf event so that we can all park on the Rose Bowl football field for some much needed payback!