Review for Riviera

Reviewer Score:


It would simply be redundant on my part to repeat what others have said about this magnificent course in the greater LA area. Set in a canyon the layout is marvelously routed -- a constant change of strategic calculations need to be made. The roster of events and the champions crowned at Riviera over the many years is a testament to the genius of architect George C. Thomas, Jr.

The variety of green sites is truly wondrous. Players need to get to certain positions at all times in order to maximize their scoring opportunities. Being out of position at Riviera will certainly put additional pressure on players. A classic case study is the all-world short par-4 10th. Arguably, there is no finer short par-4 in all the game.

The collection of the par-3's is no less stellar. Each asks for different shotmaking elements from the player.

If I had to cite a slight weakness it's the collective nature of the par-5 holes. They are good -- but not equal to what you see with the other holes at the course.

My only personal pet peeve with the overall course is the involvement of kikuyu grass found there. The grass is literally "sticky" and it does have an impact on the ground game dimension. Over the years Riviera has had issues with the turf quality of the greens but that seems to be an issue more and more in the past than in current times.

This year the US Amateur will come to the storied layout and it's great to see the best of amateur golf will test themselves on the Thomas design.

Riviera last hosted a major when serving as site for the 1995 PGA Championship. The one and only time the US Open was played there was in 1948 when Ben Hogan claimed the title. Each year the PGA Tour does play there and it's clearly a venue both the players relish and the television viewers cannot wait to see again.

Interesting little fact few might realize when Riviera hosted the '48 Open, Babe Didrikson Zaharias because the first women to attempt to qualify for the event, but her application was rejected by the USGA. The organization stated the championship was intended to be open to men only. That policy has since been changed and Michelle Wie became the first, and, thus far, only women to get to the sectional qualifying stage when she did so in 2006 at Canoe Brook CC in Summit, NJ.

Anyone who relishes architectural grandeur needs to have Riviera on their bucket list. The time spent there will long be remembered.

by M. James Ward

Date: July 28, 2017

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