A longtime commitment of Los Angeles airport officials to give back a complete golf course to the Westchester community is finally moving ahead.
For more than two decades, golfers at the Westchester Golf Course near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have teed off on only 15 holes, rather than the traditional 18 holes.
The neighborhood course was originally built with the standard 18 greens but three of the holes were taken away in the early 1980s so that the airport could construct Westchester Parkway.
Longtime golf course players such as Bill Skura said that airport officials at the time made a commitment to the community that the holes would be restored, along with other improvements. Efforts have since been initiated by the airport to bring back the holes but for one reason or another, they have fallen through over the years, Skura has said.
However, that pledge by the airport is moving forward, as the city Board of Airport Commissioners voted Monday, November 17th, to approve a request for proposals (RFP) for the restoration, operation and maintenance of Westchester Golf Course.
Part of the proposal includes an additional 23 acres, located east of the southern portion of the course along Westchester Parkway, that will be set aside for restoration of the three holes. The request for proposals includes a ten-year lease for the course, with the option to extend for another ten years, which is subject to City Council approval.
Skura, a Westchester resident who has been active in the effort to restore the holes, praised the commission approval and acknowledged the recent work by airport planning officials in moving the plan forward.
“Although it has taken a few months, actually years, to arrive at the current status of the proposed effort to restore the three holes and release a new RFP, the progress made under the leadership of Roger Johnson and Debbie Bowers and their support personnel since November 2007 has been very encouraging and the communities thank everyone for their efforts,” Skura told the airport commission.
Skura said he was pleased that the airport will be able to follow through on the commitment that was made nearly 30 years ago.
Roger Johnson, deputy executive director for environmental affairs at Los Angeles World Airports, said he was also happy to see the airport commission move ahead with the request for proposals for the course.
“I think we finally have the mechanism in place to get the three holes done,” Johnson said. “We’ve been in the planning, design and discussion mode for quite a while so I’m pretty excited.”
According to the request for proposals, the bidders for the lease must commit to completing the hole restoration project within 180 days of the start of the lease. The planned design of the additional 23 acres includes three new holes — a par 5, which has previously not been contested at Westchester, at the 15th hole; a par 3 at the 16th; and a par 4 at the 17th.
The new 18th hole will be the former 15th and it will be extended to become a par 4, according to the design.
Skura, who used to play at the Westchester course when it had 18 holes, said he and other longtime course regulars are excited at the chance to play on a par 5.
“We’re very happy they’re going to put in a par 5 hole, which will make it more challenging — something we all look for,” Skura said. “It might not improve our scores much, but it should be fun to play.”
The airport has already conducted an environmental analysis for the project so the project applicant will have the environmental clearance it needs to complete the three holes, Johnson noted.
Johnson commended the current airport commission for working to ensure that the decades-long commitment to the community and golfers is achieved.
“I think it reflects the attitude of this board that they want to follow through on the commitment to the community,” he said.
Westchester resident and airport commission vice president Valeria Velasco also expressed excitement to have a complete golf facility at Westchester once again.
“I’m anxious to get the three holes done,” Velasco said. “Our community has been waiting a long time for the restoration of the three holes, so I’m excited that it’s finally going forward.”