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Major News

Riviera CC—once thought too small to host a 21st century major—has been selected to hold the 2031 U.S. Open

June 21, 2023

Riviera's appeal includes its George C. Thomas design and iconic clubhouse.

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Only days after Los Angeles Country Club completed hosting its first U.S. Open, the Southland has secured another national championship at maybe the most unlikely of courses in the modern age of majors with big crowds and massive hospitality footprints.

On Wednesday, the USGA announced that Riviera Country Club, which last hosted the U.S. Open in 1948 and annually stages the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, has agreed to hold the 2031 U.S. Open.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that the news was communicated in an email to members on Tuesday night by Riviera President Megan Watanabe, the daughter of the club’s longtime owner, Noboru Watanabe.

“It has been one of my biggest goals to bring back major championships to Riviera since I started working for Riviera, and it truly represents the culmination of a dream that my family has had since acquiring the club in 1989,” wrote Watanabe, the club's first female president.

"Riviera Country Club is a truly spectacular course that holds a special place in the game’s history,” ohn Bodenhamer, USGA chief championships officer, said in a USGA statement on Wednesday. “We are thrilled to bring the U.S. Open back to the site of such historic moments for golf and the USGA, and look forward to writing a new chapter in 2031.”

Riviera already agreed in 2022 to host the 2026 U.S. Women’s Open. But it figured that might be the attendance and corporate limit for a layout that sits in a canyon with little space between holes. The general consensus has been that the property was too small to host a 21st cenutry major, particularly considering it does not have a second golf course to be used for staging, like at LACC and Torrey Pines. Parking and traffic would also seem to be of significant concern, with only a couple of two-lane, frequently congested roads leading to the Riviera in the community of Pacific Palisades.

However, the USGA has opted over the last decade to choose more historical courses, even if they don’t present the same attendance opportunities. Those sites include Merion, The Country Club and this year, Los Angeles Country Club, where only 22,000 tickets were distributed per day. Size can be deceiving at times, because the USGA built fewer, but taller skyboxes that provided the largest corporate footprint in U.S. Open history, with signficant proceeds going from LACC's sale of hospitality to the USGA coffers.

Television is also a consideration. The USGA has seen growing opportunities to please broadcast partners by having primetime coverage in the East at Pebble Beach, The Olympic Club, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay.

NBC Sports said on Tuesday that viewership of last week’s U.S. Open, won by Wyndham Clark, was up 27 percent compared to the 2022 championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where Matt Fitzpatrick won. The network said it averaged 6.2 million viewers across NBC and Peacock. That was nine percent better than 2021, when Torrey Pines in San Diego hosted the U.S. Open captured by Jon Rahm.

Genesis Open - Round Two

The 10th hole is considered one of the greatest short par 4s in the world.

Keyur Khamar

Riviera certainly fits the bill of the courses that Bodenhamer has called the "cathedrals of golf." Currently ranked No. 18 in Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, the George C. Thomas design is a classic, where many of the game’s greats have won—with the notable exception of Tiger Woods. Riviera last hosted a major in 1995, when Steve Elkington beat Colin Montgomerie in a playoff.

Securing Riviera gives the USGA 12 consecutive years of future U.S. Open sites, and 16 of the next 19 are set through 2042. The only open dates now are 2036, 2038 and 2040. In all, 20 sites have been determined through 2051.

The next U.S. Open played in California will be at Pebble Beach in 2027. The legendary seaside course, which hosts the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in July, also is set for U.S. Opens in 2032—the year after Riviera—2037 and 2044.

Los Angeles Country Club is scheduled to hold the 2039 U.S. Open.

The selection of Riviera as a West coa