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.
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 a someone whose skills match up with the course.
Los Angeles COuntry Club course breakdown
The 2023 US Open heads to the West Coast for the first time since 2019. It’ll be held on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club. The site of the current Los Angeles Country Club opened in 1911 and was designed by George Thomas, with a future renovation done with himself and William Bell in 1928.
The club was one of the original homes to the Los Angeles Open (more commonly known now as the Genesis Invitational). It also hosted the 1930 US Women’s Amateur and the 1954 US Junior Amateur. But between 1954 and 2017, the club hosted no professional or USGA events. The Los Angeles Country Club is one of the most (if not the most) exclusive country clubs in the United States. For years, the members were very hesitant to bring a major tournament to its club, unwilling to allow the public to enter through the pearly white gates.
However, the USGA coveted a return to Los Angeles. It nearly succeeded in bringing the 1986 US Open to Los Angeles Country Club. However, its club president at the time failed to sway enough board members to get the necessary approval. But following a restoration of the North Course by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford, the club approved the return of the USGA to 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.
Few didn’t know it at the time, but 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. Norman Xiong and Braden Thornberry, two collegiate studs who haven’t quite lived up to expectations, also were on the team. As was the team’s oldest player, Stewart Hagestad, who has competed in several Masters and U.S Opens before.
Given the names on that United States team, they absolutely waxed Team Great Britain/Ireland 19-7. The only player on Team Great Britain/Ireland who would go on to break through on the professional circuit was Robert MacIntyre. Otherwise, the team was woefully overmatched.
The USGA has the full broadcast of Sunday Singles from that event, which you can watch here. I recommend everyone watch the broadcast, as it is the best piece of evidence of what to expect at Los Angeles Country Club. Otherwise, there is very little on the internet about what to expect from the golf course.
How would I describe Los Angeles Country Club? For starters, Los Angeles Country Club features bermudagrass tee-to-green. The greens, however, are bentgrass. It has the dramatic elevation changes and land movement of a place like Augusta National or Southern Hills. The turf, particularly when they play the US Open in June, has the cement-like firmness of that of Shinnecock Hills. Tee shots will fly down the fairway. And they’ll take huge hops onto the putting surface like a ping-pong ball on pavement.
It also has the rugged, natural look of a Pine Valley. It also has barranca like at Riviera (also a George Thomas design). And there are tight lie collection areas to repel poor approach shots away from the green, like an Augusta National, Southern Hills or Shinnecock Hills. But it also features some of the thickest bermuda rough I’ve ever seen. Like if Oakmont replaced its Kentucky Bluegrass rough with bermuda.
In summary – Los Angeles Country Club more than meets the criteria of a championship-level golf course.
The golf course overall 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 a few holes. And as mentioned earlier, the greens will be very firm for the US Open. Southern California receives very little rain by the time June rolls around.
But what stood out to me the most was how difficult the greens and the greenside surrounds are, particularly the bunkers. 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. And several players ran their putts well past the hole, leaving themselves with uncomfortable five and six foot comebackers.
The players also seemed to have trouble getting up and down out of the bunkers. Not only were they set well below the putting surface, the sand gave the players fits too. The broadcast made mention that there wasn’t a lot of sand in the bunkers, making it difficult for them to control trajectory and spin out of them. Players had a very tough time getting anything close to the pin out of a bunker.
And given how firm the greens are, any ball coming out of the rough had very little chance of holding greens, let alone getting anything close to the pin. Balls had almost no spin coming out of the thick rough both on approach shots and off the green.
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.
Staying in the NFC West we make our way to Matthew Stafford. McVay upgraded his QB and Stafford upgraded his coach. This team was the talk of the offseason for awhile but it has cooled off a bit after the loss of Cam Akers. Which seems to be overblown a bit, running backs are one of the easier positions to replace and Akers really didn't even contribute for a good chunk of last season. Stafford should have a lot of easy throws, McVay had Jared Goff playing MVP caliber football a few years ago and Stafford is a pretty significant upgrade. He can make all the throws including improvising and making tough throws, things that Jared Goff really struggled with. Their defense is really solid and they should be pushing for a top seed in the NFC. If they do get back to the top of the NFC expect impressive numbers for Stafford and definite MVP consideration. Bet MGM has 18/1 on him but we think there is value down to 16/1.
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