Hollywood golf: Weddington’s fourth hole.

After a brief hiatus from the game, I have stumbled across a way to enjoy golf again. It is very different from the way I used to play. For over 30 years I was, and remain, an average, therefore relatively unskilled golfer.

But, I had access to above-average golf courses since I was a golf writer and television producer for the PGA Tour. I have had exquisite experiences at The Old Course at Saint Andrews, Scotland; Ballybunion, Ireland; Pebble Beach, California; Pinehurst, North Carolina; and TPC at Sawgrass, in Florida. Plus, I have been to the Augusta National, in Georgia, for the Masters Tournament, to namedrop some whoppers.

I am not sure I “broke 100” on any of those courses, but they were among my memorable adventures. At some point, though, on whatever course I was playing, by the sixth hole I started looking at my watch. I had spent so much time on golf courses around the world my interest in golf, even at that level, had respectfully run its course.

Par-Three Glee

Michael Patrick, Paul and Maxfield.
Michael Patrick, Paul and Maxfield. Photo by Harrison Shiels

My sabbatical ended when I rediscovered Par-3 golf courses, thanks to an invitation from Paul Cavallero, a wiry, dark-haired San Franciscan who now lives in the West Hollywood area and is a daily regular at Dan Tana’s, the famed Italian, red-sauce restaurant as old-school as he is.

Keen observers might recognize Cavallero from his past appearances on the “Vanderpump Rules” reality show. He frequented Pump, Tom Tom, and Sur – restaurants and bars operated by the famous family. And he is close friends with Maxfield Vanderpump Todd, the young son of English entrepreneurs Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd, who have taken Beverly Hills by storm.

Paul and Maxfield, despite their vast age and cultural differences, started meeting to play par-3 golf on Monday mornings. Wavy-haired Maxfield has an English accent and complexion and was new to the game having only had a few lessons back as a child. But now he worked hard in various elements of his family’s business.

Paul, with his gold-chained medallions and years of shucking everything from game programs and merchandise at Candlestick Park to Christmas trees and cars, is “Abbott” to Maxfield’s “Costello.”

The caustic but creative clapping chatter on the course and banter between the two was merciless and would do well as its own reality show. Once, James Kennedy, the famous deejay who appears on the “Vanderpump Rules” show joined us. On another occasion, a Persian neighbor of Paul’s, he simply referred to as “the girl,” played the holes with us, too.

Weddington Golf Course

Weddington’s 6th green and the Hallmark Building
Weddington’s 6th green and the Hallmark Building.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

The Weddington Golf Course, in Studio City, was the first place I joined Maxfield and Paul.

Weddington was nine little holes nestled, or better said, wedged along the Los Angeles “river,” which is more like a concrete drainage ditch. There were plenty of trees, and the 1000-yard course, in the shadow of the pink Hallmark Media office tower, played around giant nets strung up around a football field-sized driving range.

This proximity often caused golfers to hunt for their balls between wayward driving range ones scattered like scud missiles throughout the holes.

“It’s best to play with colored balls to set yours apart,” Maxfield advised me on my first day. He played with neon-colored red or orange balls and had taken to writing nasty messages on the balls after one of his particularly wayward shots was snatched and pocketed by a player on an adjacent hole.

He also took joy in the possibility the foul sentiment scrabbled on the ball might catch Paul’s eye from time to time. As the newcomer, I was left politely unscathed in the war of words and then learned to fan the flames between them. (When they weren’t making their own flames – with a lighter – to have a quick puff.)

More Than Just Golf

Maxfield and Paul head down Weddington’s first hole.
Maxfield and Paul head down Weddington’s first hole.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

Weddington had tennis courts, too, somewhere, and while we played golf, disc golfers flung their frisbees into the chain-birdcage lamppost targets behind each green on the same holes the golfers play.

The longest hole was 136 yards – and only one other hole approached that length, so I just carried three clubs in my hand and two balls in my pocket. The other fellows brought their full bags and accessories.

Maxfield and Paul always liked to hit range balls off the astroturf mats before our round: Paul to work out the creaks of his back-nine body and Maxfield to work out the kinks in his rapidly improving, young swing.

So suddenly obsessed with golf was Maxfield that he sometimes brought a video camera to clip to his bag to record his swing on the range and even on the golf course, which also had astroturf tees.

The 200-yard-long range, curtained by the tall nets, was like hitting shots into a giant walk-in closet. I smiled when I saw a sign at the entrance to the range reading “Do not disturb the golfers – authorized lessons only.” I wondered how many years ago some lonely, well-meaning, know-it-all bore with a day full of swing tips provoked that sign.

Dine Before Nine

“Come hungry,” Paul advised me before my first morning at Weddington, explaining, ironically, over a plate of peppers and parmesan the night before at Dan Tanas. He and Maxfield had a tradition of eating breakfast before the round at Weddington. Although Paul always chose a 9:30 a.m. cheeseburger at the tiny grill with six stools on one side of the counter and the snack bar window on the other.

A pair of lively Mexican men – the proprietors – prepared omelets, huevos rancheros, and breakfast burritos.

“I bet you’d like a proper full English breakfast right now,” I teased Maxfield as he picked at his hashbrowns.

“Don’t forget I was born in Wisconsin,” he countered, in his decidedly English accent.

“What’s a proper English breakfast?” Paul asked after finishing a French fry.

“Best meal of the day – similar to an Irish one,” I piped up.

Maxfield nodded and, between bites, told Paul the “full English” included a plate with fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms and beans, with toast, butter and jam.

“They serve it at Ye Old King’s Head in Santa Monica,” I said. “You can wash it down with a Boddington’s.”

“But I bet they don’t have the black and white pudding?” Maxfield asked.

I shook my head and said I had never seen it available in America. Paul wanted to know what it was.

“Don’t ask,” Maxfield answered as the smiling Mexican man took his now empty plate from the counter.

Charmed, I’m Sure

Maxfield chips as Paul heads to the fence
Maxfield chips as Paul heads to the fence.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

It was $12 to play nine holes at Weddington. An extra $5 was taken by a young woman who sat behind a plastic-window-encased counter in the corner of the little, dark, carpeted clubhouse if you wanted to go around again,

There were framed pictures of golf legends Sam Snead, Lloyd Mangrum and Sam Snead in the men’s room, and outside, near the metal, umbrella-shaded patio tables, was an ice-cream freezer.

I found all of it utterly charming. Weddington reminded me of the kind of place my parents would drop me off and I’d spend the day clipping, putting and playing par-three golf with my brother and pals. Then we’d feel like adults when we’d sit down at a table in the clubhouse restaurant and order a hot dog and Coke until our parents picked us up.

At the table, we’d total up the scorecard and settle the little “high stakes” dime bets on our matches. Maxfield, Paul and I played for more than dimes, but not much more. We each put up $5 and the player with the lowest score won the pot.

Because each tee shot is a potential hole-in-one, we agreed each payer would pay $100 to any of us lucky enough to make an ace. (There have been two or three close calls, but no one, so far, has sunk one, even though we each play two balls on every hole.)

Maxfield’s game improved so rapidly that he started to have the lowest nine-hole score frequently, but when we walked off the green, Paul refused to pay him. “I’ll take it off your tab from what you owe me,” Paul told Maxfield.

Symbolic Gesture

James Kennedy retrieves a putt
James Kennedy retrieves a putt.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

I commiserated with Maxfield as I handed him a fresh fiver right after we put the flagstick back into the final hole and were walking off the green. “That’s no fun, Paul. When you win you like a little reward. It’s symbolic, like that big check they give the winner of the PGA Tour events.”

Maxfield nodded and said, “You’re supposed to pay gambling losses right on the spot.”

Paul, hunched forward with his golf bag slung over his shoulder, kept walking forward, but I could see him grinning. Paul was really smiling on the occasion when Maxfield reached the 90-yard, final hole holding a seemingly insurmountable two-stroke lead.

Making the most of his last licks, Paul sunk a birdie putt for 2, which, matched against the bogey-4 Maxfield melted down with, swung the dramatic match to a one-stroke win for the little Italian.

“Look at him,” Maxfield moaned. “Paul is phoning everyone he knows to tell them about it.”

“Heh, heh, heh,” came Paul’s deep, long laughing. He had done it to Maxfield again on the last hole.

I knew these two were close friends because they chirped each other all the time, often in salty language.

On a previous occasion, when Paul held the lead on the final hole and Maxfield, trailing, needed him to blow up with a bogey, Paul accommodated his pal with a misfired tee shot that flew into the bushes beside the ninth green along the fence shielding the first tee. Galloping through the growth, Paul managed to find his ball, a miracle Maxfield dubbed a dubious discovery.

Like using a fork to find a chickpea in a super-sized salad, the sand-wedge Paul poked around in the brush saved his bacon.

Varied Venues

We were saddened to learn Weddington was going to the wayside. The little golf course closed to make way for the development of a soccer field and facility that would be used for practice during the upcoming Los Angeles Olympic Games.

We were forced to find a new Monday golf venue. Just like the Olympic selection committee, Paul, and especially Maxfield, had certain requirements in order to award our business: a decent restaurant and a practice range to hit balls and warm up on (the latter was especially important to Maxfield.)

The search led us first to Rancho Park 3-Par Golf Course, on Pico Boulevard in the shadow of Fox Studios, which had all the requirements.

Golfing at Rancho Park

Rancho Park Par-3’s first tee.
Rancho Park Par-3’s first tee. Photo by Harrison Shiels

Rancho Park, a Los Angeles City municipal course, was convenient in that it was nearer our Beverly Hills and West Hollywood homes and didn’t require driving over Coldwater or Benedict Canyon Roads into the valley. They had a nice, outdoor bar overlooking the two-tiered, lighted practice range that serviced their full-sized golf course, but was a block or so away from their par-three course.

Golfers shared Rancho Park’s nine par-3 golf holes with “foot golf” players: people who kicked a soccer ball from the tees along the same layout into a big hole the size of a trash can lid to the side of the green. We had shared Weddington’s holes with disc golfers; but at Rancho Park, it was foot golf.

We watched a family in front of us – a mother and two young children – give it a go one day. I found it precious the way they wandered around, obviously having never done it before, but trying to sort it out.

Paul, who I had dubbed “the commissioner,” ultimately voted down Rancho Park.

“The food isn’t so good. And I don’t like the greens,” he said after his ball rolled off yet another of the hilly, crowned putting surfaces. The undulating, small greens annoyed him.

“Hit the green and win a prize!” I joked in a carnival voice.

Los Feliz Golf Course

Hollywood Golf Los Feliz was part of Griffith Park
Hollywood Golf Los Feliz was part of Griffith Park.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

Commissioner Paul Cavallero, in order to avoid more flagstick ignominy at Rancho Park, did some rabid research. He then deemed, that Los Feliz Par-3 Golf Course would be our next venue.

Los Feliz is a roadside hollow of nine holes on a parcel of Griffith Park land so small and narrow that, upon inception in the 1940s, it was merely a driving range. By now huge, leafy trees have grown to define the holes, which are bordered on one side by a dated apartment complex.

On the other side, just as Weddington Golf Course was, by the Los Angeles River, though you would not exactly kayak between the two in that industrial trench that looked like one of the grooves in the Death Star.

A scene from the Vince Vaughn film “Swingers” featured Jon Favreau and Ron Livingston playing the 989-yard course. I grinned and shook my head when, next to the parking lot, I saw where the arriving golfers checked in to pay their $10 green fees through a sliding window.

It was a dilapidated old kiosk with a slanted roof, partly boarded up with bars, that resembled an ice cream stand. The paint was peeling off the little building, which was also enclosed by a chain-link fence.

What More Do You Need?

Los Feliz’s check-in kiosk
Los Feliz’s check-in kiosk. Photo by Harrison Shiels

I laughed, though, because really what else do par-3 golfers need? We change our shoes in the parking lot and don’t need a locker, showers or even a golf shop. The Los Feliz kiosk did sell golf balls through the window, but other than handing out a scorecard and pencil, there was not much else to the operation.

“Is that a credit card or a debit card?” the attendant, an older woman with long gray hair, asked me when I paid my fees. “We don’t take debit cards.”

Los Feliz also rents pull-carts – hand trolleys on which to roll your bag of clubs – for a couple of dollars. Paul procured one.

“I’m going to need to hold your I.D. until you bring it back,” the woman rapidly told him.

“Really? He is not going to run away with your pull cart,” I gently said to her. “We couldn’t fit it in the car if he wanted to.”

“And look at him, he would not even be able to lift it to put it in the trunk,” Maxfield piled on.

The hippie-haired woman was adamant. “If he’s using it, he’s leaving his I.D. I won’t be here when you get back, so I will leave it in here at the desk. When you bring the cart back, ask the person who follows me for it.”

Paul coughed up his driver’s license and set his golf clubs on the pull-cart.

“Three clubs are all you really need, anyway,” the woman shrugged. Then she turned her imperial wistfulness toward Maxfield. “You know you are supposed to wear a collared shirt here? That is the dress code.”

There is Still a Dress Code

“Commissioner” Cavallero measures a close shot
“Commissioner” Cavallero measures a close shot.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

He manages one of the hippest bars and restaurants in all of West Hollywood and is vulnerably enamored with the game of golf. I always wondered if he’d run into stuffy, old-school golf snobbery at some stage, but I never imagined it would be at a par-3 course with a falling-down fishing shed of a clubhouse and chain-link baseball backstops shielding the astroturf tees.

“Maxfield’s shirt has a thin, mock collar – it is not a t-shirt; it’s a golf shirt,” I pointed out to her.

“See the band around his neck there? That’s a mock collar. Some of the PGA Tour players wear those now.”

The gray-haired general looked me over, then examined Paul. Being as little and thin as he was, Paul must have felt cold because he would always wear about four layers: an undershirt, a long-sleeved thermal shirt, a sweatshirt and on top of it all, a jacket.

None of the layers were traditional “golf wear,” including his track pants or black jeans. Maxfield, meanwhile, always showed up in just a short-sleeved shirt and a hat with a golf logo of some sort on it, plus golf shoes, a glove, and all of the accessories.

In my khaki shorts and LA Dodger logoed three-quarter zip, even though I was wearing tennis shoes, my opinion must have seemed credible to her, so she moved on, barking out the remainder of her instructions and rules.

She smiled when she told us how long she’d worked at Los Feliz and offered a little course history.

Breakfast Beer and Cheer

Los Feliz’s Eat Restaurant patio
Los Feliz’s Eat Restaurant patio. Photo by Harrison Shiels

After we finished the check-in, we walked over to the nice indoor/outdoor building behind the 9th green which housed Los Feliz Café. The golf course’s very gentrified restaurant and bar has a red sign on a tall pole between the road and its patio which reads, in white letters: “EAT.”

Instead of under the umbrellas, Paul and I picked a table inside. Maxfield had split off to go to the men’s room first. When he found us and reached the table, he brought news.

“There is no stall in the washroom. No privacy walls. Just a toilet right out in the open,” he revealed.

“Like prison,” I commented, but Maxfield had moved on to the menu and commented instead on the prices.

“I may get the oatmeal. It’s the cheapest thing on the menu,” he joked.

“Just win the money back on the golf course,” chided Paul, who did not hesitate to order his customary breakfast cheeseburger.

The big, single-page menu, at least at breakfast, offered the likes of a kale and avocado egg white scramble for $15; chicken and waffles for $16; eggs Los Feliz with chicken mango sausage for $16; and morning tacos, burritos and quesadillas.

“One thing different than Weddington is they serve beer here,” I said after spying cans of Estrella Jalisco and Pacifico in the bar’s cooler. “Maybe a little reward after.”

Cheeseburger Challenge by Commissioner Cavallero

The diminutive Cavallero consumes only half-of-a-half order for his dinner each night at Dan Tanas. Subsequently, he takes a doggie bag home for himself, not his actual dog named BosKo. He did the same at Los Feliz that morning, having half of his hamburger, the rest of which he would leave behind. Caddying a doggie bag with a limp bun and beef wasn’t practical and possibly poisonous.

While Maxfield and I finished our omelets and hashbrowns, “Commissioner” Cavallero pronounced and reaffirmed the rules of the round. “It’s $5 each. The player with the fewest strokes gets $5 from the other two players. If anyone makes a hole-in-one, he wins $100 from each of the other players.”

“Same as always,” Maxfield said.

“But we’re adding something new,” Paul continued. “If anyone’s ball hits the flagstick, the other two players give him $25.”

“This is because you hit the flagstick last week,” Maxfield interjected.

“Well, I have hit it twice, but this we all have a chance. The shot has to be from the tee, though,” Paul pointed out.

I liked the idea of more fun and chances to win during the rounds, but as the server took my empty plate away, I leaned onto the table with my elbows. “Commissioner, just asking…what happens if we’re not certain it hit the pin?”

“We’ll see it,” Paul assured me, dismissing my hypothetical. “If nothing else it will make everyone pay closer attention.”

I didn’t want to dampen his ardor, so I left it at that.

“Whatever, man. I will just play and you keep track,” Maxfield said, pushing forward his empty plate. “You don’t pay me properly when I win anyway.”

On Course

Paul tees at Los Feliz
Paul tees at Los Feliz. Photo by Harrison Shiels

The routing of Los Feliz was like a traditional links course with the holes playing mainly out and then making the turn back. It was in the back corner, at the 119-yard, fourth hole, with the river to the left beyond a grassy berm, that an incident took place.

Maxfield’s launched his tee shot high into the air and very straight. We watch each shot now because of the chance of a hole-in-one.

“Looking good,” Paul said.

“It’s short, it’s going to be short,” Maxfield replied in a tone of disappointment and disgust.

“It’s short.”

I kept watching.

The ball came down on the green, rolled and settled. Maxfield’s hands shot above his head in triumph and he was literally jumping for joy.

“It hit the pin! My ball hit the flagstick! It hit it! Pay up, Paul!” he said through a smile.

But Paul shook his head. “No, it didn’t.”

“What!? You saw it. It hit the stick and rolled back to the front of the green.”

Paul refused to relent. “I don’t think it did.”

Maxfield was outraged. “You just don’t want to pay me!”

Thus began an argument that ensued as we walked to the green and carried on over the remaining five holes. I hoped, that when we reached the fourth green, we would find a pitch mark to indicate where Maxfield’s ball hit.

“No pitch mark,” I remarked.

Did it Or Didn’t it?

“It came down very high, hit the pin, bounced, and rolled to the front of the green,” Maxfield insisted, pantomiming with his hands and body the ball hitting the flagstick high and then walking off its path. His plaintive voice was still an octave higher.

“There is no pitch mark near the flag or anywhere around it,” Paul stated flatly.

“That’s because it hit the flagstick first,” Maxfield reasoned.

I interjected that we had not heard any sound of the ball hitting the stick.

“There is lots of road noise,” Maxfield countered, “which is why we didn’t hear it.”

“No further questions, your honor,” I joked.

Paul, ready to play on, was lining up his putt when he also added he didn’t see the flagstick move. Maxfield was still standing at the stick and, again, displayed how he felt the ball grazed against the flagstick very high and then slid down along it.

“If it only grazed the flagstick, how did it ricochet that much to get all the way back to the front of the green?” Paul posed.

Hot Dispute

The “ballistic” conversation on the green turned into a pseudo-scientific combination of the TV shows “Mythbusters” and “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

Commissioner Cavallero’s cute cash contest idea had turned, four holes after implementation, into a hotly contested dispute.

“I am going to bring my camera next time,” Maxfield offered. “I can clip it to my bag and we can record the shots.”

“Like instant replay,” Paul said.

“Ya,” said Maxfield, carrying his bag to the next tee. He was so steamed I don’t think he even bothered to putt.

“This will end up like the Zapruder film from the Kennedy assassination. You will end up examining it frame by frame but we still might not to able to tell if the ball hit or not,” I suggested. “Your ricochet theory already reminds me of the Warren Commission’s “single, magic bullet theory.”

Our game marched on, along with the bitter banter.

Ironic Ending

The nine climaxed with Maxfield winning the $5 prize for the fewest strokes. Before we walked off the last green I handed him a fiver with Abe Lincoln’s face on it. As usual, Paul took the winnings off Maxfield’s tab.

We walked off the green in the sun tired and ready to make a run for it.

“Don’t forget to collect your driver’s license,” I reminded Paul as he tugged the pull cart toward the kiosk, which was on the way to the parking lot.

As we approached the fenced-in, check-in kiosk, I thought I heard Paul mutter, “Oh, no.”

There was an Asian man standing in the spot outside the kiosk where the woman had previously taken Paul’s I.D. Paul asked him to retrieve it from inside the kiosk now that he had returned the pull cart.

The man was a little difficult to understand but the gist of his reply came through: he was locked out of the kiosk – and Paul’s I.D. was entombed inside.

Paul’s reaction was not at all difficult to understand.


“I knew it! I knew something like this was going to happen. This is why I didn’t want to give her my driver’s license,” he exclaimed. “Where is the woman?”

“She’s gone,” the man said.

“Gone where?”

“She’s gone home.”

Maxfield was missing all the fireworks because he was practicing over on the putting green.

“When will she be back?”

“She is gone for the day,” the man answered.

Paul asked him, in a tone that was not at all asking, to phone her.

Once the man retrieved her number from another staff member, he tried repeatedly, and failed, to get her to answer.

“What am I supposed to do?” Paul asked.

“I guess you should keep the pull cart after all,” I joked.

Paul ignored me – which did not surprise me. He is really a single-focus kind of guy.

This time we could see the woman must have answered the man’s call because, with the phone to his ear, he stepped away to speak with her privately.

“She’s coming back,” he said after he hung up.

Paul asked the obvious question of when.

“Soon. I don’t know. Maybe half-an-hour.”


I was bummed, too, when I heard that, knowing the later we were delayed the worse the Los Angeles traffic would be.

While pacing the perimeter, Paul noticed the kiosk window through which payments were taken was still cracked open by probably a foot.

“Hey, maybe I can reach through that window and grab my I.D. Or possibly I can get my skinny ass through that window, get inside and unlock the door?”

The man definitely did not want Paul going inside the fence line and messing with the window but didn’t really have the right to an opinion given the situation. I watched Paul peek through the window.

A Resourceful Cat Burglar

“My I.D. is not on the counter. It must be in a drawer,” he conceded, as he then extended his arms forward like Superman and tried to climb through the open window.

“This is like Tom Cruise hanging from that ceiling in ‘Mission Impossible,’” I joked.

This attempt was impossible, though. The half-hamburger Paul had eaten must have been enough to stop even his flat stomach, or maybe it was the gold necklace chains he wore, but he got in only as far as his shoulder blades.

“Be careful you don’t get stuck,” I cautioned.

The man watched with concern as Paul’s legs dangled from the window ledge, perhaps imagining the entire, decades-old, rotting wooden kiosk with its peeled paint, collapsing around him.

But now it was a quest. And by now Maxfield had come over to bear witness.

“What if I had a broom or a bunker rake or something to stick through the window and try to knock the door knob handle on the other side? That could trigger the lock,” Paul said.

He stuck his face in the window to see that while the locked door was across from the window, it was too far to be reached with a broom or rake, even if he extended his arms. Paul was skinny, but not terribly tall.

“She will be here some time,” the man offered, but it fell on deaf ears because he had refused to come inside the fence and get too close to this cat burglar operation.

Flagstick to the Rescue

Cavallero tries to jimmy the locked door through the window
Cavallero tries to jimmy the locked door through the window.
Photo by Harrison Shiels

Paul looked at Maxfield. Then he looked at the ninth green. And then his expression changed entirely.

“The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind…” Paul said, quoting a Bob Dylan lyric.

But I saw Paul still looking over at the ninth green, and suddenly it hit me, too: the flagstick!

“I’ll go get it,” I offered.

The flagstick, thin and sturdy, was surely long to stick through the window and unlock the door handle.

“How tall is the pin?” Maxfield asked.

“Seven feet, by USGA recommendation,” I answered as I walked back with it, carrying it like Excalibur pulled from the stone.

After only two or three tries, Paul was able to strike the top of the flagstick onto the door handle while Maxfield simultaneously turned the knob from the outside when he heard and felt it hit. The door popped open.

Paul and Maxfield celebrated by giving each other high-fives, and I smiled at the ironic notion that a flagstick – the very item that caused so much dispute and discord during the round turned out to save the day.

Read more of Michael Patrick’s work at The Travel Tattler and contact him at [email protected] Order his book Travel Tattler – Less Than Torrid Tales at https://amzn.to/3Qm9FjN

Michael Patrick Shiels

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