Los Angeles Country Club close to deal to host 2023 U.S. Open
The once-reclusive Los Angeles Country Club is close to inking a deal to host the 2023 U.S. Open. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the club and the USGA have entered into a preliminary agreement for LACC to host the event. The club’s 1,500 members would need to sign off with a vote, something that could take place in October. If the members approve, the deal could be finalized early in 2015.
A statement from the USGA addressing the issue read: "As a general rule, the USGA keeps its site selection process confidential to protect future sites and related parties. In this instance, we confirm that the USGA and Los Angeles Country Club are exploring the possibility of conducting a future U.S. Open Championship at the Club. There are several important steps required in the Championship selection process to ensure its success, including garnering the support of the Club’s membership and evaluating the feasibility of conducting a world-class championship in the heart of the Los Angeles community. We are appreciative of the opportunity to continue the process."
It’s no secret that the USGA has long sought to host its premier event at LACC’s North course, but its overtures were consistently rejected over the years by the exclusive, publicity-shy club. For many years, one issue was a membership policy that excluded minorities and even actors. Those policies have long since been rescinded.
Recently, however, LACC joined ranks with two other equally low-key, prestigious clubs, Long Island’s National Golf Links of America and Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida to host the Walker Cup, the biennial event that features the top amateurs in the U.S. versus their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland. Each of those highly ranked clubs had traditionally eschewed the publicity that accompanied hosting important national tournaments. LACC hosts its Walker Cup in 2017.
The USGA has long been seeking worthy West Coast venues. They were lukewarm on the design merits of Torrey Pines’ South course in La Jolla, California, yet chose it again for the 2021 U.S. Open, acknowledging how successful the 2008 tournament had been, when Tiger Woods edged Rocco Mediate in a playoff.
No such doubts exist about the architectural strengths of Los Angeles Country Club’s North course. Ranked Number 19 in the United States and Number 30 in the World by GOLF Magazine, LA North, as it’s known, boasts a handsome, rugged 1921 George C. Thomas Jr. layout, the same architect responsible for the city’s other two design gems, Riviera and Bel-Air. Some critics who evaluated the 2010 restoration efforts of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner have called LA North the greatest restoration of all time.
The 7,236-yard, par-70 North course, along with its shorter sibling, the South, are perhaps best known for their remarkable location, at the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards near Beverly Hills. Bold, gorgeously sculpted bunkers and ravine-like barrancas slash the parkland property and many holes are backdropped by the L.A. city skyline. Host to the PGA Tour’s Los Angeles Open in 1926, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1940, LA North also was home to the 1930 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur and most recently, the 2013 Pac-12 Conference Championship, when University of California’s Max Homa set a new course record of 61.
First-time guests are often treated to a walk through the woods behind the 13th green, where Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion awaits. There’s no guarantee that a U.S. Open could compete with those attractions -- which includes zoo animals as well as two-legged figures -- but undoubtedly, it would be an exciting event for fans of classic course design.