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Los Angeles Country Club makes its U.S. Open pitch to membership

By John Strege

It remains to be seen how the members at the Los Angeles Country Club feel about the possibility of the club hosting the U.S. Open in 2023, but its board of directors has begun its sales pitch to them with this letter:


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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

August 28, 2014

Dear Fellow Member,

Your Board of Directors has unanimously approved a preliminary agreement with the United States Golf Association to host the 2023 U.S. Open Championship, subject to the approval of our membership and completion of final contractual arrangements. The Championship will be conducted Thursday, June 15 through Sunday, June 18, 2023.

The USGA was formed in 1894 and first staged the U.S. Open Championship in 1895, two years before the formation of our Club. The 2023 Championship will be the 123rd U.S. Open Championship to be held in our country. We have already partnered with the USGA to host the upcoming 2017 Walker Cup Match, an event considered by many to be the finest amateur golf competition in the world. When the USGA leadership began more intensive planning for the 2017 Walker Cup through several trips to evaluate play on the newly-restored North Course, discussions ensued regarding the possibility of hosting a future U.S. Open following the Walker Cup. We have recently advanced those discussions.

The Club has an early history of professional and amateur events of the highest caliber. After hosting the inaugural 1926 Los Angeles Open, which served as the catalyst for George C. Thomas, Jr. to redesign the North Course, the Club hosted four more LA Opens in 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1940. The Club also hosted the 1930 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and the 1937 Western Amateur Championship. However, after the passing of Joseph Sartori in 1946 and hosting the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, our Club's elite tournament tradition was allowed to lapse until our recent commitment to inaugurate the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational and host the 2017 Walker Cup Match.

The discussions with the USGA are timely for several reasons. In the last few years the Board and membership have increasingly been engaged in discussions regarding the number and nature of tournaments we should be hosting. We have initiated the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational which in its third year has attracted many of the best mid-amateur and senior-amateur golfers in our country and received national acclaim as one of the best amateur events in the nation. As the reputation of the North Course, our restoration architect, Gil Hanse, and our Master Superintendent, Russ Myers, has spread in the golf world, members and others have approached me and other Board members with ideas that would allow our course to host other national and international competitions. Our natural inclination is to partner with the USGA whose mission is to promote "the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions." We share many of the values of the USGA in promoting the game of golf.

In addition, we have known for some time that the infrastructure of our Clubhouse and South Course will require restoration and the financial obligation will be significant. We have negotiated an attractive payment schedule that funds a portion of this financial obligation. We also anticipate substantial revenue generation during the Championship in 2023.

We believe hosting the U.S. Open Championship will provide other tangible benefits to the Club, including an increased demand for our Regular, Special, Non-Resident and Junior memberships.

The business arrangement with the USGA is essentially a lease of the Club's property for a two-week period in 2023. The USGA will manage all Championship-related arrangements and will assume almost all the direct costs for the Championship. When the Championship is completed, the USGA will restore the Club and our property to its pre-Championship condition.

I hope you share the Board's enthusiasm for this endeavor. Not only will the Club benefit in many ways in hosting the U.S. Open Championship, but the City of Los Angeles will be a beneficiary. While Los Angeles has been home to several World Series, NBA finals, Super Bowls, Stanley Cup finals and even two Olympics, our great City has seen only one U.S. Open Championship in 1948, won by Ben Hogan at the Riviera Country Club. With a hospitality infrastructure in Los Angeles second to none, the USGA, together with its broadcast partner Fox Sports, headquartered in nearby Century City, will expend every effort to make the event a crowning achievement. Bringing the U.S. Open Championship back to Los Angeles is long overdue and the Championship in 2023 could be "one for the ages."

Because the U.S. Open is an international sporting event and a departure from our more recent history, the Board has determined to seek approval of our membership to host the Championship. Members of the Board plan to describe the benefits of hosting the Championship and respond to membership questions at Club committee meetings during the next several weeks. We have scheduled two town hall meetings, providing members with an opportunity to discuss and ask questions of our Board members regarding the Championship. Our first such meeting will be held on September 10, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.in the Clubhouse and the second meeting on October 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. where Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA, will be in attendance. Proxy materials will soon be sent to our Regular members for voting at a Special Meeting to be held October 9, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

We ask that you use great care and discretion in refraining from sharing this letter or information with those outside our Club, as the USGA considers its selection process to be a private matter.  

The Board is excited to have the opportunity to host our national Championship, but the support of the Club's membership is vital for the Club to move forward with this opportunity. We encourage our members to raise questions and express their views regarding the possibility of hosting the Championship directly with me or any member of the Board.

Warm Regards,

Richard A. Shortz
For the Board of Directors
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