The course starts with one of the most dramatic first tees in the game. It is perched on top of a hill overlooking U.C.L.A. and the Westwood section of Los Angeles. Set in the canyon below is a short 491 yard par five that is a great starting hole and in keeping with George Thomas's design philosophy of a relatively easy start. The course has a different character than Thomas’ other designs in the L.A. area. Riviera is basically laid out in one large canyon, while L.A.C.C. is routed over rolling and open terrain. Bel-Air is routed through four different canyons and weaves its way in and out of them masterfully. In addition to the first hole, I particularly liked the sixth and seventh holes. The seventh is a par four of 391 yards and runs parallel to the sixth but plays down into a canyon. The hole uses the slopes of the hillsides to great effect. The tenth is the most memorable on the course, a demanding par three of 200 yards over a ravine. The club’s iconic white suspension bridge adds to the grandeur of the place. I can't think of a weak stretch of holes on the course and the finish is particularly strong. Both Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan called the seventeenth one of their favorite par fours. The hole doglegs right and slopes right, and the sloping fairway sends balls not perfectly hit into the rough. Missing the green on your second shot yields a terrible penalty. Bel-Air has an ambiance and feel to it that makes it Zen golfing at its best.
Date: October 20, 2019