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Bel-Air

Bel-Air

Los Angeles, California
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Patrick Koenig
01/06
Patrick Koenig
Los Angeles, California
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Bel-Air Country Club is a throwback to The Roaring Twenties and the course here is one of the finest layouts that came from the remarkable George C. Thomas design stable, one that also includes such stellar track as Riviera and Los Angeles Country Club.

Working with his partner William Bell, Thomas routed the fairways around several large canyons where, because the terrain is so tortuous, it requires quirky little tunnels (before holes 6 and 11), an iconic white coloured suspension bridge (after playing from the 10th tee) and even an elevator (from within a tunnel after the 9th) to transport golfers around the property.

GalleryPatrick Koenig
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Patrick Koenig
01/06

The great and the good of Hollywood have been associated down the years with the social scene of Bel-Air and it was here that Howard Hughes once landed his aeroplane on the 14th fairway to impress Katharine Hepburn, who lived just off the course. As she was receiving a golf lesson from one of the club pros at the time, Hughes is said to have emerged from the aircraft and joined them for some practice.

Cosmetic revisions to the course have been made over the years by the likes of Dick Wilson, George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones. Bel-Air hosted the 50th USGA Seniors Championship in 2004 to mark the 80th anniversary of the club, though the course actually opened for play three years after its formation in 1924.

Renaissance Golf Design embarked on a restoration project at the end of 2017, reducing the number of bunkers from 76 to 42 originals, removing two ponds and changing half the greens. All this came about because, in the words of Tom Doak, "the course was further from George Thomas's design than most people realize."

Writing in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses Tom Doak commented as follows: “I rarely think about what courses I’d like to restore if I had the chance, but Bel Air has to be at the top of the list. Thomas’ plan for Bel Air may well be the most spectacular routing ever conceived.”

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Course Architect

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Tom Doak

Tom Doak studied Landscape Architecture at Cornell University where he won a scholarship to travel to the British Isles, he then spent seven months on the road, literally living on the links.

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