After a 75-year absence, the United States Golf Association will bring the prestigious U.S. Open championship back to Los Angeles.
But it might not be at the course many expected based on recent golf history here.
The Los Angeles Country Club, which has two courses that opened on Wilshire Blvd. near the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in 1911, has been officially selected to host the 2023 major event, the USGA officially announced Wednesday.
The North Course, redesigned by the famed George C. Thomas Jr. in 1921 and currently under renovation to bring back many of its original features by architect Gil Hanse, will provide the 18-hole test for the U.S. Open. The club’s South Course will be used to accommodate the media, sponsor tents and concessions.
In 1948, when Ben Hogan won the last U.S. Open held in L.A., it took place seven miles west of LACC – at the famed at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, which, like LACC, is a private course.
But without as much baggage.
The exclusive club that many Hollywood stargazers may not even know exists in such a congested urban part of L.A. because of its fences protected by tall trees has previously turned down numerous attempts by golf’s governing bodies to have an event on its facility.
The LACC for many years existed, like the Wilshire Country Club, without allowing Jewish members. A 2011 story about the club in the Hollywood Reporter called it “a bastion of bankers and corporate execs” that “remains hands-down the most clannish and is known for shunning entertainment types in general.”
But situated on one of the most valuable piece of land in the world with downtown L.A. as the backdrop to the 11th hole and the back of the Playboy Mansion sharing a wall, the LACC started serious discussion last year with the USGA about connecting on the 123rd Open in 2023. The course’s board of directors approved it last fall, said club president John Chulick.
“The city of Los Angeles takes pride in hosting national championships – whether it’s a football national championship to a Super Bowl, the Olympics and even the Special Olympics,” said Chulick. “The region is going to be ecstatic to host this event. The region will embrace the event.”
The last event of any magnitude that LACC hosted was the PGA’s Los Angeles Open five times, the last in 1940. That annual event, currently called the Northern Trust Open, has been at Riviera almost exclusively since 1973. Riviera is also set to host the 2017 U.S. Amateur championship.
However, because of all the extensive space needed to accommodate the elaborate setup for the U.S. Open, the landmark Riviera, an 18-hole course off the windy Sunset Blvd., with limited parking and shuttle service, may have the most history on its side but not enough land.
In the latest Golf Digest list of the 100 greatest golf courses in the U.S., Riviera’s par 71, 7,040-yard amphitheater, also designed by Thomas, ranks No. 24. That’s two spots ahead of the LACC North Course, a par 71, 7,236-yard track. A year ago, LACC was ranked No. 41.
== Our column from the final round of the 2015 Northern Trust Open about Riviera’s future as a major host.