Straight into Compton: SoCal Supers Revive Neglected CourseWritten by Andrew Hartsock | GCM Managing Editor
- With its proximity to two schools, the Compton Par 3 Golf Course in Los Angeles was perfectly poised to be grounds for growing the game – it just needed some TLC.
- Through generous donations of time, services and products, a crew of assistant superintendents, vendors, product reps and city workers aerified and heavily topdressed the nine greens of the Compton Par 3.
- Eddie Rodarte, PGA, of the Southern California PGA was instrumental in garnering interest in golf at local high schools
- Rodarte also landed commitments from coaches at each high school to volunteer as golf coaches and secured equipment donations for those who needed it
The Compton Par 3 — the only golf course in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton — was being maintained by a skeleton crew of two who had only scant training specific to golf course agronomy. The irrigation system was aged, the maintenance budget miniscule. Because of the threat of vandalism and theft, maintenance equipment couldn’t be stored on-site. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic forced the Compton Par 3’s closure in March 2020.
“Honestly, it was not massively horrible,” says Dan Pollack, assistant superintendent at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles and a seven-year GCSAA member. “The teeing areas were the worst part about it, since there were no mats in place. There needs to be some tree work, some pruning and trimming. A lot of the teeing areas are faded and thin. The fairways and rough … they let the grass grow high, but it’s not terrible.
And that’s where the GCSA of Southern California came in. The Southern California PGA had contacted the GCSASC in fall 2020 to see whether the chapter could lend an agronomic hand as part of a bigger project to turn the Compton Par 3 into a sort of youth-focused community hub. Pollack and Ryan MacNair — assistant superintendent at Santa Ana Country Club and a five-year GCSAA member — serve as assistant superintendent liaisons to the GCSASC board of directors, and on Oct. 23, 2020, they paid the Compton Par 3 a visit to determine its condition and devise a plan to prolong its health.
Through generous donations of time, services and products, a hodgepodge crew of assistant superintendents, vendors, product reps and city workers aerified and heavily topdressed the nine greens of the Compton Par 3 on June 17, 2021. When they departed, they left behind nearly half of the 50 tons of donated greens-grade topdressing sand, eight bags of donated fertilizers, recycled hitting mats for the teeing areas, a plan for how to maintain the property in the months ahead, and, just maybe, hope that the idea of a golf-centric, youth-focused community hub might just happen after all.
A prime location and a grand plan
Eddie Rodarte is the junior golf manager and manager for outreach and inclusion for the Southern California Section of the PGA of America. He has represented the SCPGA at various youth golf clinics, including one held at the Compton Par 3. While there, Rodarte noticed the course abutted both Clinton Elementary School and Dominguez High School.
Working with the city and the Compton Unified School District in 2019, Rodarte learned none of the district’s four high schools had a golf program. He contacted the principals at each and got permission to conduct demonstrations in each school’s gymnasium.
“We just went in and said, ‘This is golf,’” Rodarte says. “We laid it out for them, what was expected of them. I told them they could play golf as an alternative. Not everybody is going to play basketball or baseball or soccer. Golf is a viable alternative for kids who aren’t that type of athlete. The opportunities from golf are huge. To me, it’s kind of a passion. I like growing the game. After those four demonstrations, 57 kids walked up to me and gave me their names and said, ‘I want to be on the golf team.’”
Picturing initially after-school club play — and possibly seeking sanctioning from the California Interscholastic Federation later on — Rodarte landed commitments from coaches at each high school to volunteer as golf coaches too. He solicited donations of clubs, shoes, balls, towels and tees. And he secured the Southern California GCSA to get the course’s greens in better shape.
Lending time, talents and resources
And that was in better times. Compton closed the course on March 17, 2020, because of the pandemic. Rodarte says job losses and cutbacks hit the Compton Parks and Recreation Department, and that trickled down to the golf course.
Several local businesses — and Pollack’s course — contributed mightily.
A local John Deere dealer and his driver helped transport machinery and stayed all day to lend a hand. Two workers from Turf Time West punched the holes. A pair of workers from DryJect Southwest volunteered labor and managed to procure driving range mats from another course where they had worked. Those mats will be installed at the Par 3 to serve as teeing mats. A local Harrell’s rep donated fertilizer, and P.W. Gillibrand Co. Inc. donated the sand.
Pollack and MacNair have remained in contact with the Compton Par 3 staff. The assistant superintendents have outlined a fertilization schedule, and they plan to return to the course for another round of topdressing and to assist with the installation of the tee mats.
Though the course remains closed, its opening might be near.
“While we were there, a councilwoman came out to see what we were doing,” Pollack says. “She’s going to try to push the city to open up as soon as possible. The local people are getting antsy and want to play.”
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