LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA | Within two hours after arriving fresh off a cross-country flight to LAX and then Lyfting and shuttling through L.A. traffic, I managed to violate five forbidden rules at the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club starting the instant I stepped on the property wearing the comfortable denim jeans that serve as my usual travel wear.
In subsequent order, I then …
If this had been Masters week, credentials would have been forfeited.
In fairness, it would be nearly impossible not to violate some of the “customs and traditions” of LACC. The club has a dizzying 1,300-word list of policies (including the pickleball/tennis section) for men, women and child members and guests to adhere to on grounds. “Since 1897, we have established a series of customs and traditions in order to enhance your experience at our Club,” its website reads. “We take pride in making every one of our guests feel like a member during your visit with us.”
To feel like a member, guests must wear slacks “of a tailored nature” and shirts with sleeves and collars “worn inside one’s trousers.” After 6 p.m., gentlemen are required to wear jackets in the clubhouse. Hats, caps and visors are forbidden inside or on clubhouse patios, except in the uncovered area adjacent to the bar as long as those caps and visors have “the bill facing forward.”
Women’s golf attire can include tailored slacks ankle length or longer or skirts no shorter than 4 inches above the knee. No skorts or culottes. They may, however, wear brimmed hats (not golf caps) “coordinating with their outfits in the clubhouse.”
The extensive list of “unacceptable attire” includes shorts of any kind, gym attire, T-shirts (including jerseys) or apparel containing slogans. Changing shoes in the parking lot is strictly forbidden.
Rumor has it that the club bandied about the idea that its 22,000 daily U.S. Open patrons would have to adhere to the club’s policies (which would have been fairly easy when the club offered to buy all of the tickets), but common sense prevailed and shorts were permitted for fans as well as players during practice rounds.
The technology guidelines are the most extensive, but just in case they missed the latest trend, it ends with this disclaimer. “Please note: if the use of technology is not specifically addressed in this policy, then it is not permitted at the Club.”
Unwritten in the club’s rules are the fact that actors are not welcome. They are directed up the road to Bel-Air or Riviera. The late great L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray called LACC “the West Coast version of the stodgiest and most exclusive club in the world.”
“It is said eligibility for membership is a Hoover button, a home in Pasadena and proof-positive you never had an actor in the family,” Murray wrote. “Once, when a member proposed Jimmy Roosevelt for membership, they not only blackballed Roosevelt, they kicked out the member.”
A couple of actors who were turned away – either Ray Milland or Victor Mature – have been credited with the clever response to their membership denials on account of their profession: “I am no actor,” one or both of them insisted, “and I have 50 films to prove it.” Randolph Scott reportedly found a back door into the club by marrying the daughter of a member, and Ronald Reagan was accepted, but only after his acting days were long behind him and he held the more reputable station as the GOP leader of the free world by then.
Fortunately, the folks at LACC didn’t know that I played the role of Giles Corey in my high school’s production of “The Crucible” or they never would have credentialed me in the first place.