West Coast Report: Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach has been a favorite locale for surfers over the last fifty years. Just up the road from the beach sits cozy Polliwog Park, a sprawling recreation area that includes nine-hole disc golf course, a swimming pool, gazebos, playgrounds, and BBQ pits. And how could I forget the pond inhabited by ducks, geese, and other birds. Like most public parks in Southern California, the weekends and summers attract crowds, but if you’re like me and can make the time to visit parks during the day, then you’re in for a treat.
Polliwog Park’s nine-hole course has a couple of challenging long holes wide open fairways, but the course is is significantly easier than the treacherous holes at Chavez Ravine. The downsides of Polliwog’s is that the course is not separated from the overall park, so you have to deal with random park goers at every turn, many of which are totally clueless to the etiquette of yielding to frolfers.
The park is located next to an elementary school and the first two holes are stuck in the middle of a playground. Nicky and I arrived at 11am and part of the park was hosting a nursing home picnic. I had to make sure that my girlfriend didn’t hit any of the stroller pushers on the first two holes.
The course is confusing to navigate for first timers. There’s a map near the entrance but that’s it. The holes are not easily labeled and you have to look for the brown posts shooting up out of the ground. The course lacks formal no tee boxes and you shoot off the paved walkways closes to the tees. I read a review that said some of the locals have created their own tees using different baskets — which inspired us to do the same.
The third hole was toughest with the tee located in front a small wooden bridge next to the duck-infested pond. Ducks were waddling by as we stepped up to shoot. The basketball is well over 300 feet up on a hill, but you have to clear a mini-six-stepped amphitheater. Click here to see what the #3 hole looks like from the tee.
We also had to make sure we didn’t step in duck turds on a couple of holes. I found out later that I used the alternate tee for hole #3 and that the actual tee was closer to the gazebo near the pond which meant that you didn’t have to clear the amphitheater on your approach shot.
One area of the park contained crisscrossing holes on a slight hill — perfect for my girlfriend who is a beginner. The wide fairways on holes #6 and #7 were generous when fielding her errant tee shots. I really let it rip for the first time (unlike at Chavez when I was scared to attempt big tee shots for fearing of losing discs down the steep hills). I finally got to see how the SoCal ocean breezes affect the flight of my discs. A couple of trees lined the crisscross holes, which my discs promptly found. Since the course was virtually empty, we spent a lot of time on these holes practicing pitching and putting.
We played a second round but bypassed the 8th and 9th hole. My girlfriend skipped amphitheater hole, but I was excited to play it again and tossed two tee shots. I was unable to clear the amphitheater either time — which means that the next time we play, I have to skip that hole if that area is busy… or risk a potential law suit or fistfight.
I only saw a couple of other disc golfers on the course, but the park was teeming with regular people for a weekday around noon. The biggest complaint about anything in SoCal is the lack of parking spaces. We found a spaces on a side street, but the spots fill up quick on weekends.
We had a much more enjoyable time at Polliwog Park and can’t wait to return. Nicky definitely had more fun on this SoCal frolfing adventure with plenty of easier holes for her to practice on.