Several steps remain to complete the arrangement that would bring the Open back to L.A. for the first time in 75 years, when it was won by Ben Hogan at Riviera CC.
The Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) has reached a preliminary agreement with the United States Golf Association to stage the 2023 U.S. Open, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The tournament would take place 75 years after the only previous Open in Los Angeles was played in 1948 at Riviera Country Club, when Ben Hogan won the first of his four national championships.
Several steps remain before the deal is completed, the Times reported. The club’s Board of Directors sent e-mails and letters to members on August 28 with the recommendation that they approve the plan. A vote could be completed by mid-October, an individual close to the situation said, and a deal struck by the end of the year or early next year.
The USGA, which usually does not discuss future sites, made an exception, the Times reported, saying that it and the club are “exploring the possibility of conducting a future U.S. Open Championship at the club.”
The USGA noted that there were several remaining steps to work out, including getting the approval of the club’s membership.
The Times reported that the tournament would be played on the club’s North Course, a 7,200-yard layout that underwent a five-year renovation, completed in 2010, to restore many of the characteristics in the original design by noted architect George C. Thomas Jr.
Thomas also was the primary designer of Riviera, site of the regular PGA Tour stop now called the Northern Trust Open, and was involved in the design of Pine Valley in New Jersey, considered by many the premier golf course in the United States.
L.A. North has been included in Golf Digest‘s annual list of America’s top-100 golf courses every year the magazine has been compiling it, but it has not hosted a professional tour event since 1940, the Times reported. The club had previously rebuffed the USGA when contacted about the Open, the Times noted, but since the restoration of the North Course, there appears to be a change of heart.
The USGA announced five years ago that the 2017 Walker Cup competition between top amateurs from the United States against a team from Britain and Ireland, would be held at L.A. North. By then, renovations to the LACC clubhouse, which opened in 1911, and to the shorter, more forgiving South Course, will be complete, the Times reported
“It does seem like the club is changing,” one member, who requested anonymity when asked to discuss the club’s “attitude,” told the Times.
But when it was noted that the USGA often makes considerable modifications to courses to make them more difficult, and that even after renovation L.A. North is a course with wider fairways than most Open courses, the member added, “The members wouldn’t want to change a lot of things.”
The North Course was the site of the Pac-12 championship in 2013, the Times reported, when Max Homa of Cal won the individual title by shooting a nine-under 61 in the first round— a score two strokes lower than the best round ever shot in the U.S. Open.
It is also unclear if the club would want to be a more regular site for the championship, the Times reported. In Northern California, The Olympic Club in San Francisco and Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula have each hosted the Open five times, and the tournament is scheduled to return to Pebble Beach in 2019.
Pat Finlen, General Manager of the Olympic Club, told the Times that his club has had a long-standing relationship with the USGA and sees the Open Championship as a way to foster amateur sports. The Olympic Club has also played host to numerous amateur national USGA championships.
“Our goal isn’t to seek Opens, but they ask us to hold them and we love doing them,” Finlen said.
“The U.S. Open championship is a terrific event, for any facility or city,” he added.
Riviera Country Club, also regularly among Golf Digest‘s top 100, has tried to secure a U.S. Open for several years, the Times reported. It will play host to the 2017 U.S. Amateur but has not been successful in persuading the USGA to allow it to host the association’s flagship event. Riviera was home to the PGA Championship in 1983 and 1995.
The overall impact on the economy of San Diego, two hours south of Los Angeles, when the 2008 U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines was about $142 million, according to a report released by San Diego State University, the Times reported.
At Torrey Pines, USGA statistics showed roughly 75% of the tickets sold were from outside San Diego.