'Every Hole At'

Riviera Country Club: An exclusive drone tour of Hogan's Alley

December 01, 2020

The original Hogan’s Alley was a newspaper comic strip that dated back to the 1890s, but beginning in the late 1940s the name would be conveniently appropriated by sportswriters to describe various tournament venues where famed golfer Ben Hogan dominated. Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, Calif., south of Los Angeles, is golf's original Hogan’s Alley.

The sterling design by architect George C. Thomas Jr.—currently ranked No. 23 in the country by Golf Digest, a member of every 100 Greatest since the beginning and host of the PGA Tour’s annual Genesis Invitational—was no match for Hogan. In the space of 18 months, he won three times at Riviera. The first was the Los Angeles Open in January 1947, a three-stroke victory. A year later he successfully defended the title, this time by four shots, and six months after that, Hogan won his first U.S. Open on the course, setting a then-championship record of 276 to again win by four. He was a cumulative 21 under par in those three victories. Riviera, wrote sportswriters, was right up Hogan’s Alley.

Remarkably, the Riviera of today is very much like that Hogan encountered more than 70 years ago. Many trees that had been planted in the 1950s and 1960s have been removed. Holes drastically altered by a devastating 1939 flood have only recently been fully restored. The greens are undoubtedly faster, but for the most part, their contours have been retained.

Senior architecture editor Ron Whitten examines those features and more in his hole-by-hole analysis of Riviera in our latest exclusive drone footage of great golf architecture. Hogan’s Alley an example of timeless architecture, as we showcase in this episode of Every Hole At: Riviera Country Club.