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what is a barranca

What is a barranca? Get to know LACC’s most feared beast

The barranca at Los Angeles Country Club is an integral part of the course, but what is it and and how does it come into play during the US Open?
 

It has been difficult to know what to expect from Los Angeles Country Club for the 2023 US Open.

It is a club with a unique set of rules and regulations and it is the first time the California venue has hosted a major championship.

From long rough to deep bunkers, LA Country Club has features typical of a US Open golf course – but there is one specifically different part of the course that you might’ve heard mentioned by the commentary team on your television.

This is a barranca, a word that means a narrow, winding river gorge and it meanders through a number of holes at the country club with steep sides.

It is first seen on the 2nd hole and the players will encounter the intimidating stream five times on the front nine.

It was on the second hole in the second round where Dustin Johnson hit his ball in the barranca which led to a damaging quadruple-bogey.

The feature also has an important effective drainage role during the rainy season and they are typically found in southern California landscapes.

USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer spoke about the Los Angeles Country Club barranca ahead of the tournament, and the quality of the work done by the course’s first designer and its restorers since.

Geoff Shackleford and architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner began renovating the North Course course in 2010 that George Thomas first designed in 1927.

“There are others who are more qualified than I am to talk about the barrancas. Gil (Hanse) and I think Geoff Shackleford really dug in,” USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer said before the tournament started.

“When I played here in 1985, I fell in love with this place. It was a different golf course. The first two holes were par-5s. There was very limited barranca through this property.

“It was more manicured Bermuda wall to wall, but it was still magnificent. I think what Gil and Jim and Geoff did was just restored what was here.

“Risk-reward was something that was really part of what he thought (Thomas). You see that meandering. It is a natural barranca, and how he used the land, the risk-reward part of this golf course, it just flows throughout, just the brilliance of how the barranca is used.

“I will tell you when we were here in March, there was three feet of water running through those barrancas. When we were here in May, there was probably two feet of water running through those barrancas. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to get the barrancas in proper condition, but we have.

“That’s thanks to the club, Chris Wilson and his team, and a whole lot of hard work. I think they’re brilliant. You look in them, we’ve worked hard on them, so has Chris.

“You’ll see players playing out of them; that’s how they were intended. You’ll see a lot of heroic shots, a lot of excitement, but I think you’ll see some others, as well, out of them, and that’s how they were intended. That’s what Mr. Thomas intended.”

Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler avoided the troublesome barranca on day one to card historic rounds of 62, while Wyndham Clark and Sam Bennett began to impress in the early wave on day two.

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what is a barranca

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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