Golf Cart Island

Golf Cart Island

Words: Garrett Leight
Photos: Joshua Spencer

The concept of featuring Catalina Island Country Club came to mind simply out of selfishness. “How come I’ve never been to Catalina?” I thought. If I’m dedicating my entire Zine to my passion for golf, how can it not align with my passion for Los Angeles? I had to play this course. As the idea began to formulate and take shape in my mind, the pieces of the puzzle came together almost seamlessly, as they so sweetly yet so rarely do. “Steve Malbon would be down for this,” I thought. He’s obsessed, he loves to be in front of the camera, and he has premium relationships that the golf world salivates over. Steve will bring the goods, and maybe I’ll go low, get a hole in one or at least beat Steve. All completely on par thoughts for a true golf nut or a soul golfer, as I like to call myself.

After some research, I discovered that we would need to set sail at the crack of dawn in order to give justice to the full Catalina golf experience. Something a true soul golfer would NEVER think twice about is a 4 AM wake up call for the right round of golf. So I put the call in to Steve, and it was on, no complaints. “I’m bringing Sal Barbier, is that cool?” Steve said. “Are you kidding? Sal fucking Barbier golfs AND doesn’t mind getting up at 4am for it? Hell yeah you can bring Sal.” I enthusiastically replied. For those of you who are not familiar, Sal Barbier is arguably the most important street skater of our time. Sal was one of the first skaters with his own pro model shoe, and most importantly it was the best seller. He literally helped bring skateboarding to the mainstream as we know it today. He’s SB23. Anyway, just look it up. I can’t kiss his ass too much because he’s a professional shit talker, and he’s definitely going to read this.

The morning started like any other 4 AM golf morning. I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm and popped right up, of course. By 5 AM I was showered, dressed, full of coffee, and on my way to Long Beach. Upon pulling into the parking structure, I noticed some commotion, and it was clear something was wrong. “The ferry is cancelled due to choppy waters,” the parking attendant said. What? FUCK! This is California where weather always permits. Unbelievable. I’m getting to that island come hell or high water, I thought. I googled our options, discovered IEX Helicopters, and it was on. We just had to kill two hours for them to open. There was no stopping this group from getting on that island. We popped over to a local diner to kill some time and listened to Sal babble shit talking nonsense for about an hour. By 7 AM we were on our way to buy tickets, excited like 5 year olds on Christmas morning.

The rest is history. It was as if the second we stepped foot onto that chopper we were transported in time, transported to the majestic Catalina Island, home to nine holes weaving their way through the lush green canyons of deep bunkers, tiny greens, and narrow fairways. Built in 1892, CICC is the oldest operating golf course west of the Rockies. Like something out of a movie, it’s stuck in time. Catalina’s Hollywood history flies way under the radar. In 1863 gold miners on the island used pigeons to deliver messages to the mainland. PIGEONS! Inhabited by Native Americans and conquered by the Spanish, the island has changed hands numerous times from Mexicans to the Wrigley Brothers. Pirates smuggled Chinese immigrants at China Point. Russians hunted otters for their pelts. Charlie Chaplin & Humphrey Bogart were regulars. Even Winston Churchill reportedly was there once to fish. And it’s possible that Christopher Walken and Robert Wagner were having sex on a boat the night Natalie Wood drowned off the coast of Two Harbors. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but the conspiracy theory exists.

After a difficult 9 holes of wonderful bogey golf, unfortunately the most memorable moment was a legitimate audible argument between me and Steve when we decided to bet $50 a hole starting on the 7th tee box. Steve later admitted that he hates to lose more than anything in the world (he won all three holes by the way). And I hate when people get under my skin, especially on a golf course. It was just a recipe for disaster that we didn’t know we had the ingredients for. Basically, I don’t like confrontation, and he uses it to his advantage. Fuck me. In any case, we headed to happy hour, then another happy hour, then another and some oysters. With some time on our hands before departure and the energy still pretty weird, we headed over to the world renowned Par-51 Catalina Golf Gardens mini golf course, considered one of the most beautiful and challenging mini golf courses in the world. Sal knew it was his time to shine “athletically,” and it was just what the group needed. Having Sal kick our ass and berate us the only way he knows how with that lovingly yet relentlessly annoying Louisiana twang was the perfect ending to an unforgettable day trip.

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