Four Classic Venues To Host Two U.S. Ams & The Walker Cup
Justin Fantl Photography
The Golden Age of golf design gets a showcase with a foursome of fabulous Southern California courses hosting three important events in August and September. First up Aug. 7-13 is the U.S. Women's Amateur at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, a 1921 Willie Watson layout whose undulating fairways could put a Scottish links to shame. Rebunkered over the years by a number of designers, most recently John Harbottle III, the eucalyptus-lined layout deserves even more national acclaim.
The next week is the U.S. Amateur at famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, whose George C. Thomas Jr.-William P. Bell design is ranked 24th on Golf Digest's 2017-'18 list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
Co-hosting the early stroke-play portions of the Amateur is Bel-Air Country Club, another classic Thomas/Bell design that winds through mansion-dotted canyons of Los Angeles, the topography so steep that golfers are guided from hole to hole via a tunnel, an elevator and the city's most famous suspension bridge, which spans a gulch on the par-3 10th and serves as a dramatic backdrop for the 18th green. Bel-Air's design has been altered over decades by, among others, Dick Wilson, George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones Jr. Word is that Tom Doak will begin a complete restoration later this year.
Last up is the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, No. 23 on America's 100 Greatest and host to the Walker Cup Sept. 9-10. A 1921 Herbert Fowler design modified by Thomas and Bell in 1927, it was sympathetically restored in 2010 to Thomas' style of sprawling fairways and splashy bunkers by the team of Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and Geoff Shackelford. Although the Walker Cup is a match-play event involving amateurs, the competition will still give us a hint of how L.A. North will play when it hosts the 2023 U.S. Open.