The crash location was a few hundred yards past the departure end of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the single-engine Cessna 152 had just taken off from Santa Monica Airport when it crashed. She had no other details.
Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesman Erik Scott of the said the pilot was the only person aboard the plane. He was declared dead at the scene.
Investigators said the pilot was conducting landings and takeoffs at Santa Monica Municipal Airport when the plane suddenly plummeted to the ground in the middle of the busy Venice golf course just 50 yards from a golfer on the eighth hole.
Witnesses say the engine of the plane stalled, leaving the pilot with little he could do.
"What we heard is that the plane was overhead. It was having some engine trouble and basically came down in a nose-dive position through the trees there and kind of settled where it's at here currently," said LAPD Capt. Jon Peters.
The 60-year-old pilot was the only person onboard. No one on the ground was hurt. Many of the golfers continued playing.
Residents around the airport say a crash like this is their biggest fear. They wish more could be done about the growing air traffic.
"I'm always afraid because I know that just on the other side of the house, right there on the Walgrove side we've had two plane crashes, and now one on the other side right here," said local neighbor Aliza Wine. "It's very dangerous. It's frightening and it's dangerous."
Authorities had not released the pilot's identity. They said he was a student pilot who was practicing training exercises.
The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.