Posted by: Brad Nixon | August 27, 2018

Is This Heaven or Hell?

I’ve used one of our favorite local walks, Ocean Trail, as the setting for a number of blog posts about nature, the environment, the ocean and other subjects.

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 6966 (640x445)

Those bluffs are the southern edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. To left, they face the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina island.

Santa Catalina Brad Nixon 1 (640x478)

California law preserves the immediate oceanfront as public land. You can’t build something right at the beach and close off public access. Thanks to that rule, we have an extensive series of trails through the chaparral at the edges of those bluffs, a bit dry at this time of year. I’ve shown you scenes like this before.

Palos Verdes Trail Brad Nixon 5055 201609 (640x480)

It’s an excellent place to hike, with views of the ocean, and we occasionally spot a whale spout, as well as hawks and other birds, rabbits and, rarely, a coyote. People use this public land in all sorts of ways. There are strollers, hikers, runners, dog walkers, photographers and more than a few couples getting engaged or taking wedding photos against the dramatic ocean backdrop. Down at the shoreline, there are swimmers, sunbathers or people poking around the tidepools to discover what they can find.

What I’ve never shown you is how the land immediately adjacent to Ocean Trail is used, not far back from the cliffs’ edge.

Golf course afternoon Brad Nixon 0932 670

Yep, oceanfront golf. It took several decades of effort by a couple of developers to get the place approved, engineered and operating. It’s semi-public — available for public use, although it’s privately owned. It ain’t cheap to play there. Golf with ocean views appeals to many devotees of the game. This picture suggests why.

Ocean golf green Brad Nixon 0933 670

So, I have a question. Is this heaven, hell or something in between? Obviously, part of your answer depends on whether or not you play the game. I gave it up long ago.

I’m happy that the law of the land required that the developer preserve access to the trails, the bluffs and the shore below for the rest of us, as well as the rabbits and hawks. One can take issue with having more than a hundred acres of land in such a spectacular setting devoted to the pursuit of the few who can afford the time and money. The fact is, it’s been private land a long time, originally farmland. The history of California is replete with similar tales of development. The good news is that the trails are still there.

Should one be irritated, or accept it? Either way, it won’t change things.

Your reaction? Are you dying to have me post a link to the course’s website so you can book a tee time? Or do you consider golf — as Mark Twain famously is reported to have said* — “A good walk spoiled?” Leave a comment.

*The attribution of that comment to Twain is disputed. One hopes he said it.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. There are no bad golfers unless they employ you. Golf is to present yourself, your product, your party but never the athletic competition of men that saw their last harrah in some past decades. I don’t need my Jag XKE coupe V12 except that when I bought it I was under 25 and driving it today I feel like it was then. But the thin similarity between the two is that golfers go through all of that hell learning and playing that game for self satisfaction and minimal improvement. I have enjoyed the heavenly looks, ride, sound and appreciation of everyone over the years who stops and still gawks at my maroon hole in one.


  2. There’s nothing like a sly joke with morning coffee, and your title’s one of the best. At least they didn’t build a hotel (California or otherwise) where the golf course is today.

    Aesthetics and access aside, golf courses present a number of environmental issues, particularly where water use is concerned. I once had a customer from Colorado who was developing an ecologically friendly course in that state that took those issues seriously, and it was amazing to see how it differed from courses from earlier decades.

    Not far from me, things are going the other direction, as an old golf course is being transformed into a public green space that will double as retention and detention ponds. Given a choice between golf greens and Exploration Green, I’ll go with Exploration Green every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great idea. Yes, golf courses are insanely inefficient uses of space, and you’re right: They’re rife with environmental problems, especially here in water-challenged California.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My vote is always for the natural beauty! Golf course or not, I LOVE the trail’s view of the ocean!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Golfers everywhere will disagree with you. They’re outnumbered, but they outspend the rest of us, so there you have it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Always goes back to the $ 😦


  4. As with most things, the answer will be shaped by one’s life experiences.

    In my long distant youth, I played competitive golf. I liked the company, the competition, and being outdoors. I appreciated the beauty of a well designed course, and enjoyed the feel and look of a well struck draw shot flying through the air.

    Given the fact that your course is on private land, I’d count it as a blessing that the land was used for golf (with minimal impact on the natural surroundings), rather than for a bank of condos or high rises.


    • Agreed. However, there are enormously pricey “estates” accompanying and surrounding the course, so we didn’t get off scot-free. However, there’d probably have been NOTHING but houses if the gold course hadn’t ultimately gone through.


  5. I’ve heard great things about Catalina Island. It must have the perfect climate. Never too hot, or too cold. Unlike here where our seasons are extreme. We go from Heating and Snow Flurries to 80s and 90s in what seems like a few weeks.


    • It’s interesting out on Catalina. 22 miles out. That’s both good and bad. None of us here have the extremes of cold you do, although we beat you at the high end.


  6. Heaven so long as I am not playing the game. I was a starter at a Country Club as a teenager; I got my fill of golfers. But now I know just to keep my distance and remain silent. These pictures, even of the golf course, are absolutely beautiful. Heavenly.


    • Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the photos. It’s a great scene, all right.


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