2023 US Open course preview: Los Angeles Country Club
March 20th, 2023
Los Angeles Country Club will host the 123rd U.S. Open in June. The first major championship held at the club and it will be the first in Los Angeles area in 28 years. This is a course that hasn't hosted a professional event since 1940. It will be a fun tournament set right in the heart of LA.
There may not be a more important sport to bet early than golf. While it is nice to observe player form and you can definitely still make bets throughout the year and even the week of the tournament the value on most players will be long gone by then. You need to handicap a player's season projections as well as finding someone whose skills match up with the course.
Los Angeles Country Club
The US Open heads back to the West Coast for the first time since 2019. It’ll be held at the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club on the North Course. This course was the original home of the Los Angeles Open, now the Genesis Open, it also hosted the 1930 US Women’s Amateur and the 1954 US Junior Amateur.
Between 1954 and 2017 however, the club hosted no professional or USGA events. LACC is one of, if not the most exclusive clubs in the United States. Members have refused for years to bring a major tournament to its club, unwilling to allow the public into this elusive venue.
The architecture of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club has received nothing but rave reviews since the 2010 restoration by architect Gil Hanse, his associate Jim Wagner and their colleague Geoff Shackelford. Hanse’s team didn’t replicate the bunkering style of original architect George C. Thomas, but they did work to highlight the visually exciting style of Thomas’s associate, William P. Bell.
Los Angeles Country Club features Bermuda grass tee-to-green with Bentgrass greens. It has the dramatic elevation changes and land movement of a place like Augusta National or Southern Hills. The turf will be firm and fast like it typically is at a US Open. Tee shots will bound down the fairway, this will put a premium on ball placement off the tee and it will be very tough to get balls to hold on these greens that will no doubt be firm and lightning quick.
It has a similar look to the nearby Riviera Country Club (also a George Thomas design) with an almost unfinished, rugged theme to it. Natural trouble lurks at every turn while it carries a middle of the city feel to it throughout. There are tight lie collection areas surrounding nearly every green, even good shots will result in very tough up and downs. It also features some extra thick Bermuda rough that will not be fun for players who miss the fairway. There is no doubt that it will be a very exciting US Open. The Los Angeles Country Club more than meets the criteria of a championship-level golf course.
LACC is a little deceptive as well, it looks generous off the tee with wide landing zones. However, given how firm the fairways are and how some of them are sloped, players might have a difficult time keeping the ball in the short grass on more than a few holes. And as mentioned earlier, the greens will be very firm for the US Open combined with the fact that Southern California receives very little rain by the time June rolls around.
What also stands is how difficult the greens and the greenside surrounds are, there will no doubt be a premium on around the green play and particularly play out of the sand. The greens are lightning quick and significantly undulated. Players at the 2017 Walker Cup were having a very difficult time reading them, even on short to medium size putts. Several players ran their putts well past the hole, leaving themselves uncomfortable five and six foot putts coming back.
Players also struggled significantly when trying to play out of the sand during the tournament. The bunkers were routinely set well below the putting surface and the sand itself was also causing fits with the players. Apparently there wasn’t a lot of actual sand in the bunkers, making it difficult for them to control trajectory and spin when hitting out of them. Players had a very tough time getting anything close to the pin out of the bunkers.
Also adding to the difficulty of the course will be how firm the greens will likely be, which will make it even more difficult to get the ball to stop when playing out of the sand, around the green, and hitting into greens on approach. And any ball coming out of the rough will have very little chance of holding on these greens, let alone ending up anywhere close to the pin. This was a common theme of the 2017 Walker Cup and will sure be even more difficult when they set this track up for the US Open.
The 2017 Walker Cup played just a fraction under 7,400 yards. The limitations of the property line won’t allow the USGA to stretch the golf course much further than that. Expect similar yardages for the 2023 US Open.
What’s also unique is how the USGA played around with par on a few holes. The 7th hole alternated each session as a Par 3 or Par 4. And the 1st hole alternated between a very reachable Par 5 and a long Par 4 each session too. Expect the USGA to play around with par in 2023 like they did in Chambers Bay for the 2015 US Open.
LACC Past Events
The North course hosted the first Los Angeles Open 97 years ago in 1926. The tournament returned four times in 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1940. Other than that this course hasn't seen any other professional tournaments. Following a restoration of the North Course by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford in 2010 the club approved the return of the USGA to the Los Angeles Country Club. It was selected to host the 2017 Walker Cup. Soon after, the Los Angeles Country Club was selected to host the 2023 US Open.
The 2017 Walker Cup would prove to feature one of the most decorated teams in its history. Leading the United States side was Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Will Zalatoris. Also on the team were PGA Tour stars Maverick McNealy, Cameron Champ, Doug Ghim and Doc Redman. This loaded United States side dominated Great Britain/Ireland 19-7. The only player on GB/Ireland who would go on to break through on the professional circuit was Robert MacIntyre who has put together a promising start to his career.
The USGA has the full broadcast of Sunday Singles from that event, which you can watch here. It should some good insight into what we'll see at Los Angeles Country Club later this year.