23. Riviera Country Club
George C. Thomas Jr. & William P. Bell (1926)/Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (R. 1993)/Ron Forse (R. 1997)/Tom Fazio (R. 1999, 2012)
A compact and shrewd design by George C. Thomas Jr. and associate William P. Bell, Riviera features everything from a long Redan par 3 to a bunker in the middle of a green to an alternate-fairway par 4. With its 18th green at the base of a natural amphitheater, and its primary rough consisting of club-grabbing Kikuyu, Riviera seems tailor-made as a tournament venue. It’s hosted a PGA Championship in 1995, a U.S. Senior Open in 1998 and a U.S. Amateur in 2017, but no U.S. Open since 1948. With the U.S. Open rewarded to nearby LA Country Club for 2023, it doesn’t appear Riviera will get another Open. But it’s the site of an annual PGA Tour event, which is even better exposure to the golf world.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1966. Highest ranking: No. 18, 1985-86. Previous ranking: No. 24
“The 6th hole with the donut bunker is so much fun -- wow: What a hazard and what a green! The four different quadrants offer all sorts of imaginative shotmaking opportunities and it's truly a great par 3.”
“Given the land restrictions, Thomas made himself a very strategic golf course. He designed some of his most impressive golf holes using terrain far less interesting than his other creations at either Bel-Air or LACC.”
“The Kikuya grass used around the greens can really increase difficulty. There is a super premium on finesse all around the course, but especially on the little touch shots when you barely miss a green. And the grass eliminates the ability to run the ball onto the green, like at the beautiful Redan 4th hole.”
“Some off-the-chart stretches of great holes with some average holes mixed in.”
"What impressed me most was the fairway bunkering and how that correlated with driving the golf ball to achieve the best angle into each hole."