Let's hear it for Lakewood Country Club! This is an American Golf owned golf course that seems to be doing a lot of things right. They have a hands on General Manager and excellent catering managers. They let me in on their little secret when I briefly spoke with them. They really started caring about the experience their clients had at the venue and went over and above to make them happy. Their clients in turn went back to their community and told their friends and family and they started booking this venue for their weddings and events. It sounds obvious, like this is what EVERY wedding venue should be doing. But, to execute on this isn't always easy.
The Clubhouse is historic, it reminds me a bit of La Venta Inn up in Rancho Palos Verdes. Though Lakewood has been nicknamed the "Instant City" because it grew quickly in the 1950's and 1960's this clubhouse appears to pre-date that expansion. It is historic and has been recently been remodelled. It has lovely wood floors I do like the building, it's not a mass produced golf course club house of the 1960's era, and it's not one of the modern palaces we've seen a lot of in the past few years. It's elegant and timeless. The ballroom seats 350, but for a wedding reception I think 250 would be a very comfortable number. Since we're not seeing a lot of wedding receptions with over 200 guests the room is perfect for the more common 140 to 200 guest wedding reception, but it has space if you're mother goes crazy inviting more guests. They can also do outdoor wedding ceremonies on the site.
Lakewood has a few pieces of notoriety. Danny's Donuts started in Lakewood which later became a restaurant chain known as "Denny's." Perhaps you've heard of it? A number of famous sports celebrities were either born in or went to school in Lakewood. A more obscure name is Greg Lemond who won the Tour de France 3 times, without scandal. Greg didn't have the rockstar girlfriend and has been married to his wife of over 30 years. Lance Armstrong made cycling a sexy sport, Greg gave American credibility in a mostly European sport. Lakewood is actually the first city to outsource most of it's government resources (police, courts) to other cities and outside agencies. It's a model that has been followed by the city of Diamond Bar. Even in the city of Chino Hills our police department is outsourced to the county Sheriff.
Long Beach has established itself as the "Go-to" wedding destination in Southern California. There are so many great wedding venues located in the Long Beach area that brides from the IE, the OC and Los Angeles and into the San Fernando Valley seem to be attracted to Long Beach. Lakewood isn't exactly Long Beach but it's right next door. It's close enough to get the ocean breeze which makes it a pleasant venue for summer and fall weddings. Lakewood is one of those places that falls in line with Downey and Norwalk as places you've heard of but may have not spent a lot of time at if you're from out of the area. But along with Long Beach's Renaissance Lakewood can be considered a sister city. The Country Club's golf course actually butts up next to the Long Beach Airport. I am willing to believe that part of the Golf Course is actually in Long Beach. As you may recall the airport is located just east of the 405. It's a neat airport to fly out of. I called them once to ask what time a flight left and they said "I don't know, what time can you get here?"
There is a place called the EBell Club in Long Beach that is located in a residential neighborhood in Long Beach. It's a woman's club from the early 1900's that now happens to be owned by a set of identical twin sisters. You'd think that nobody would care for this place but brides don't seem to get enough of it. It has a look and feel that brides like. This clubhouse seems to feel like it's from the same era. I think you'll be surprised how nice it is and how much appeal this older venue may have. It's a throw back to the older Los Angeles.
The building and general location seem to be enough to put the venue on the consideration list of some brides. Frankly I think brides drift into the course because they are going to a venue close by in Long Beach to check out. Since they are in the area they'll give it a look. The main selling point, the reason why this venue has become more popular is the staff. You'll leave knowing that you and your wedding is important to them and they will work very hard for you.
It's a golf course with a lake. Come to think of it, most golf courses have lakes. The problem this facility has is that the beauty isn't as evident. There are some golf courses that have nice rose gardens and gazebos that are a bit more easy to perceive as photographing nicely. This venue does have it's charm and beauty. The last time I was at Lakewood Country Club rain was scheduled for the wedding day. We decided to take the pictures at the venue a few days in advance to avoid the rain. Our coordinator met us and had golf carts ready to go to the back of Lakewood. Oh my gosh, it was so very pretty! On the wedding day we had rain and it was a daytime wedding which meant that we didn't get to see the room in it's nightime glory. This place must be amazing at night with a full reception room!
This venue is close to the freeway but not off the freeway, you'll have to drive in about ten minutes to get to it. If you're having a weekday wedding you may get a little bit of traffic close to rush hour. There is a road right next to the building to take you from one parking lot to another, thus it doesn't have the big grass entry for group shots. In the back behind the clubhouse it's a bit busy. I would be tempted to take the bridal party out to a less busy part of the golf course for taking their pictures. You will need to check with the staff as to what areas would work best so as to not disturb the golfers.
I've admired American Golf for a number of years. They had a rough time during the recession as golf was the first thing that people cut back on. It seems to me that American Golf found a lot of value in weddings, it must have helped them through some rough times when golfing was at a low. The problem is that they own a lot of really different properties such as Coyote Hills in Fullerton just seem to be very popular that they don't have to do much to attract weddings, while Mountain Meadows in Pomona has to really get out and work hard to have brides show up. Across the board it's difficult to figure out why some things work in one venue while they won't work at another venue. Lakewood Country Club could easily be one of those venues that is highly unproductive with a revolving door of sales staff. This facility has a hands on General Manager and a hands on staff. They did something that impressed me, the sales and catering gal was actually on site the entire wedding. Since our bride had her own wedding coordinator the the catering manager at the course just checked in often and was around if they needed her to do anything. The staff was great, taking care of the vendors and making us feel welcome.
I've written so many of these reviews in the past. I've seen venues that at best can produce a mediocre experience but you'll have a view of the ocean so if they have your date available you can consider yourself lucky. But then I find that there are venues that are great because the staff goes the extra mile Having seen Lakewood Country Club in action I can tell you that this is one of those venues. Great job!
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