The location: The Country Club.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The local country club, on the golf course.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. They show an establishing aerial shot of the real Pelican Hill Country Club (see the second photo to the right), which actually is in Newport Beach. But that's not where they shoot the scenes with the actors.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. It was first featured on Episode 4 (of season one), "The Debut", as the location for the Cotillion, a formal ball which Ryan was forced to attend (and where a fight breaks out over Jimmy's embezzling)

    It was also featured in Episode 25 (of season one), "The Shower", when poor Seth goes to dinner with Summer and her father (and makes a fool of himself). And once again, later in the same Episode 25 (as a supposedly different location), when Ryan leaves Julie's engagement party and walks past a large fountain on the way to his car.

    It was seen again in Episode 18 (of season two), "The Risky Business", in which Ryan's ex-con brother, Trey, steals a valuable crystal egg that is supposed to be auctioned off for charity at the country club. Ryan and Seth have to race to Chino and fight two thugs to retrieve the egg, then race back in time to save the day.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A real country club, but not in Newport.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. Despite the establishing aerial shot of the real Pelican Hill Country Club (see the photo above), the scenes of Ryan & Seth coming & going from the Country Club were actually shot outside the country club at Trump National Golf Club, at 1 Ocean Trails in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

    The golf course outside the club building has also been used for some of The O.C.'s golf scenes.

    Formerly known as Ocean Trails Golf Course, before billionaire Donald Trump bought it and re-made it, you'll find this gorgeous golf course atop the Palos Verdes hills, about 3 1/2 miles southeast of the old Marineland site, and about 2 1/2 miles southeast of Wayfarer's Chapel (the location of several memorable scenes on "The O.C.").

    While watching the show, you see the Palos Verdes hills often in the background as the cast drives along the South Bay coast. It's territory that's worth a drive of its own; you'll encounter spectacular ocean views and a moneyed, Mediterranean ambiance that rivals Newport's own.

    If you go to the Trump National country club, you'll recognize the large fountain at the northwest end of the building, it's the one that Seth & Ryan pass as they are head to the parking lot (on their way to retrieve the "Risky Business" crystal egg). Ryan also walks past the same fountain in "The Shower", when he's determined to stop Eddie from abusing Theresa. And we also see the fountain at the start of the Cotillion scenes in "The Debut".

    If you like, you can have lunch at one of Trump's three restaurants at the club (they are open to the public). Call (310) 303-3260 for restaurant reservations (recommended). In fact, you can have lunch under the same ornate golden ceiling where Seth, Summer and her father had that very uncomfortable dinner together. In addition to the Sistine Chapel-style ceiling, on a clear day, the restaurant also has a spectacular view of Catalina.

    They have a reasonable dress code: collared shirts only, no denim (jeans), no short shorts.

    But if you want to play golf there, be prepared to cough up $200 on weekdays or $300 on weekends - per player (that includes use of a golf cart, but not club rental, which would tack on another $90 or so.) That's as of 2006 - see their website for updates.

    Here is a map link to the exact location.

    And here is a link to the golf course's official website.

    (In Episode 4, "The Debut", the dance rehearsal scenes for the Cotillion were shot at another location.)

    (In Episode 12, "The Secret", Sandy and Jimmy talk while having lunch at a table overlooking tennis courts. This is also supposed to be the same Country Club, but these tennis court scenes were actually shot at a completely different location.)

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. This was a rather hard one. Not having been to Trump National at the time, the only clues I had to go on were the large fountain outside, the tile roof on the building, the ocean view in the background and fact that there was a parking lot next to the fountain. That last one helped a lot, since Palos Verdes is a primarily residential community, and there aren't that many parking lots with an ocean view behind them.

    At first, I thought I had found an early success in The Neighborhood Church (at 415 Paseo Del Mar, in Palos Verdes Estates). The church had almost everything going for it: it is perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, it has a red tile roof, it has a parking lot, it even has a fountain next to the lot which is almost identical to the one seen in the series. But when I went to the church in person, I could see that the tile base of its fountain differed from the stone base of the fountain I was looking for - and the fountain itself was smaller.

    So the hunt was back on. Fortunately, a later OC shot offered a semi-aerial view of the scene that allowed me to see the area as a whole in detail. I then checked out the aerial maps of Palos Verdes, looking at every parking lot on the coast with an ocean view, until I finally found an identical match in the layout with Trump's Ocean Trails course.

    As for the restaurant, go to the Trump National website, watch the intro, and you'll see a quick glimpse of the Trump restaurant - which is, of course, identical to the one in the scene where Seth meets Summer's father.

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