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Los Angeles Country Club

Wide fairways and five par 3s?: Why Los Angeles Country Club is a US Open venue like no other

America’s national championship is returning to Los Angeles for the first time in 75 years and it will offer a very different test to the players
 

Wider fairways, a barranca, and five par 3s – does that sound like a US Open venue to you? Cast your East Coast visions of punishment aside, this year’s championship at Los Angeles Country Club could be quite a ride.

The 123rd edition of the championship returns to the City of Angels for the first time in 75 years and even if you’ve only taken the briefest of looks at the North Course you’ll understand it’s a US Open venue like no other.

George C Thomas thought it was his greatest design when he set rejigged Herbert Fowler’s original layout in 1927. Gil Hanse completed a five-year labour of love restoration in 2010 and what the players will experience in June is golden age architecture in every respect.

Think large bunkers that wind through the course in all manner of shapes. Yes, there’s plenty of rough and it’s Bermuda to boot, but think angles and slightly wider fairways that ask players strategic questions rather than force-feeding them narrow strips of the short stuff.

Think valleys, bumps, mires and crests. Think fast, firm, and bouncing. Think liquid. A huge barranca works its way through several key holes on the golf course and could leave someone’s championship hopes floundering in a watery grave.

And think par 3s. How many championship courses have you seen with five short holes? They’re all belters to boot. This US Open will not be an eagle fest on the longer holes. It will come down to who can survive a test of accurate iron hitting at the short stops.

Just take the 7th. It’s a beast at 240 yards and demands the perfect tee shot. Then you find the USGA can stretch it all the way back to 300 yards if they wake up in a crabby mood.

The magnificent clubhouse forms a favoured backdrop to the 9th, while the 11th sits in a vista showing off the best of the city. Add in an ultra-short 15th that could be nothing more than a sand wedge and you’ve got originality, variety, and drama.

That’s all we want right? The chance to watch mastery and misery combined. This will be a very different US Open and we couldn’t be happier.

Where will the 2023 US Open be won?

We pick out a trio of holes that could prove pivotal at Los Angeles Country Club

6th, 325 yards, par 4

Los Angeles Country Club

It’s well within the reach of the world’s best but don’t be fooled by the yardage. Whether they’re looking to find the green, or just lay up, they will do so from a blind tee. A barranca surrounds the green and those who go for it will also be trying to find the smallest green on the course.

11th, 290 yards, par 3

Los Angeles Country Club

With the cityscape as an alluring backdrop, this par-3 may seem long when looking at the numbers but it plays downhill. Claimed as a reverse Redan, bunkers surround a tiny putting surface and may stop players trying to take off the length by running it in.

13th, 454 yards, par 4

Los Angeles Country Club

Uphill all the way to the green, which is surrounded by bunkers on all sides, trees sit beyond the back of the putting surface along with a large fence for anyone who airmails it. The battle here will not be won from the tee, but in the approach.

It held the 2017 Walker Cup, but how do you think the action will unfold this week at LA Country Club? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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