The $6 million driving range opened in 2003, the result of a public-private partnership plan to create revenue for the then-cash-strapped community college system to upgrade its aging infrastructure and facilities. In 1999, the college entered a 10-year lease agreement with Hee Kyun Cho, the owner of similar urban golf driving ranges in the Koreatown area. The college would stand to make $120,000 a year from the venture.
Since then, the driving range had become everything from a neighborhood eyesore, due to its 160 foot-high green netted structure (visible from miles away), to a safety hazard to both the community and the college, due to stray golf balls landing in the college’s child care center, the neighboring Braille Institute and smashing the windshield of a food truck. For years, East Hollywood residents were also familiarized with the metallic “ping” sound of a ball hitting one of the 22 steel columns that hold up the net, which was also brightly illuminated at night.
The college also had a tumultuous relationship with Cho, who stubbornly disregarded recommendations by the college to temporarily shut down the golf range’s operations in order to address the aforementioned safety concerns.
Even before Majestic Golf Land opened, the college soon learned the partnership idea was a huge mistake — In 2002, voters approved a bond measure to fund new construction for the L.A. Community College system (which has since financed the building of LACC’s new library, science building, parking lot/athletic field and other additions), rendering the partnership unnecessary.But by then, the ink on the lease contract had already dried.
I had been to the golf range once, in 2004, just to take a look around, but didn’t even bother to rent a club or sink a single putt. Sometimes I would joke about showing up at the driving range with half of a golf ball glued to my forehead, and covered with fake blood, complaining to the staff about another stray ball in the neighborhood.
Like many in the community, including LACC administration themselves, I had long anticipated the end of the 10-year lease, and the day had finally come, with the closure of the business towards the end of 2010.
Crews had begun removal work since December (I had hoped for an epic implosion event, but I guess the college wasn’t up for that), though the Majestic building will remain – re-purposed for use as the new home of The LACC Foundation, which had previously operated out of a bungalow on campus.
The 3-plus acre site that formerly housed the net will likely be incorporated into the college’s expansion plans. As recently as five years ago it had been eyed as a potential site for a new LAUSD middle school facility, although the plans for a new school in the area had since been called off.
Goodbye – and good riddance – Majestic Golf Land…we hardly knew ye.