Riviera - California - USA

Riviera Country Club,
1250 Capri Drive,
Pacific Palisades,
California (CA) 90272,
USA


  • +1 310 454 6591


The Riviera Country Club is undoubtedly an important course, not just because of its magnetic appeal to many famous members, including Glen Campbell, Dean Martin, and Gregory Peck, but also because this is a masterpiece in architectural design.

George C. Thomas Jr. designed Riviera, or should we say manufactured Riviera. When the course opened for play in 1926, the construction bill was almost $250,000 and this was one of the first courses where literally the earth moved in mysterious ways. Thomas was perhaps the most underrated architect of his time and much of his work has been lost through the perennial remodeling programs and the same is true to a greater extent here at Riviera. Fortunately some holes do still play in the strategic spirit that Thomas intended where he who dares and wins will be rewarded.

Riviera was one of Ben Hogan’s favourite courses and it’s sometimes referred to as “Hogan’s Alley”. Perhaps so named because Hogan took the tight but more rewarding driving line here at Riviera, just as he did on the 5th hole at Carnoustie during the 1953 Open. We suspect it may be because is was here that Hogan set his Open record of 276 or perhaps it was because he made his historic comeback at Riviera after his horrific car crash in 1950. Does anybody know?

Hogan declared that Riviera's one-shot 4th Redan is "The greatest Par 3 hole in America" and his statement is commemorated by a plaque stating: "In 1987, the 4th hole at Riviera Country Club was chosen by Mr. Hogan as the site for filming his club company's commercials. It was the only time his golf swing was ever seen in the Hogan commercials."

The Los Angeles Open was first played at Riviera Country Club in 1929, but the event began a long-term relationship with the club in 1973. Since 1973, The LA Open has been played here every year except 1983 and 1988 when Riviera played host to the PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open respectively. Jack Nicklaus pocketed his first pay packet here at Riviera in the 1962 LA Open. His 50th place banked him a modest $33 but the Riviera Country Club remained one of the few PGA Tour courses where the Golden Bear never claimed a victory.

There are few layouts with no weaknesses, but Riviera might be one. It’s undoubtedly a special course that's routed across less than ideal terrain. We therefore doff our caps to Mr Thomas.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Riviera

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: There are few courses with no weaknesses, but the Riviera Country Club can take the moniker. It’s a truly remarkable golf course routed across less than ideal terrain. Rating: 9.3 out of 10 Reviews: 16
TaylorMade
John Sabino

The first tee at Riviera is memorable, a 503-yard par five that plays from an elevation of about 100 feet down into Santa Monica Canyon below. The course is defined on both sides by the canyon and The Most Expensive Real Estate in The World. The first tee gives a hint that Riviera will be much more about strategy than anything else. The tee box lines you up away from the line of play so you have to aim left to hit the straight fairway. Get used to this here, as there are many little deceptions that make Riviera a great course that forces you to think your way around it.

During my second time around the course, three holes in particular struck me as truly one-of-a-kind, and among the best in the world. The first among them is the 419-yard par four fifth; the seventh and the tenth are the two others. The fifth hole is a tree lined dog-leg left where a tee shot should favor the right side to give a better view of the green, which is located down on a lower tier of land than the fairway. The challenge on the seventh, similar to another great hole with a ravine, the eleventh at Shoreacres, is to decide how aggressive you want to be. Shots played to the left are safer, but leave you further from the green. Shots played aggressively and further to the right will be rewarded with a shorter shot to the green.

I won't belabor the virtues of the tenth hole since most people are probably familiar with it from the annual coverage the hole receives when the PGA tour plays at Riviera. It may be the best example of how a hole does not have to be long to be great. It is a par four of 315 yards. It is visually intimidating, with great risk/reward options and a small and treacherous green that all add up to make it a standout. When you stand on the tee, it looks like there is no room to hit the ball on the left. However, the reality is that there is plenty of room on the left side, which only becomes obvious when you walk toward the green.

Riviera is made even more interesting by virtue of the majestic houses sitting on the commanding promontory above the course, with views of the Pacific Ocean. Scold me for being shallow and easily impressed, but it is pretty cool.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

November 19, 2016
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Larry Berle
Riviera was designed by George Thomas in 1926 and sits in a valley surrounded by the expensive homes of Pacific Palisades perched on the cliffs above. The grass is kikuyu, which I had never played on before. It’s a very coarse grass with stiff, strong blades (so stiff that your ball sits up beautifully in the fairway, almost like it’s teed up). The rough, however, tangles around your club mercilessly.

My playing partner and I came around the corner to Number 6, the most famous hole on the course. It’s a par 3 of 142 yards with a sand bunker right in the middle of the green – that’s right, in the middle of the green! Pros have been known to chip over the trap when necessary, but the sign by the green makes clear that this is not acceptable. I made bogey here, landing my tee shot on the wrong side of the sand trap and 3-putting around the trap. Oh well! As we left the green, my playing partner pointed to a house high above the 6th green. “That’s where I live.”

Riviera is not a club of celebrities like Bel-Air, but there are a few. O.J. was a member until his trial. And there’s the story about Dean Martin and two of his pals getting ready to tee off when Buddy Hackett spotted them and hurried over to join them. “Sorry, Buddy,” Dean said, “We already have a full threesome.” Larry Berle.
October 02, 2014
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
Keith Baxter
October 03, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
Fergal O'Leary

Captain George Thomas designed Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club (North) and Bel-Air Country Club within a few years of each other and practically all within a 5 mile radius. Among the many aspects that separate “The Riv” from the rest of the pack is the mind-blowing, yet impressive, growth of kikuyu grass throughout the property. When the country club and course opened in 1926, it was known as the Los Angeles Athletic Club Golf Course. Alister MacKenzie and William Bell helped Thomas in the design and planning of the course. They were in charge of assembling a labour force to build the course from scratch in the Santa Monica Canyon. The course has been modified a few times, most notably in 1992 when Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore redesigned the bunkers to look as they did when the course opened. Although the course has 3 alternate greens in play (6th, 10th & 16th) and an unusual aeration schedule (they punch much later in the year in order to have the greens perfect for when the PGA Tour arrives in February), I still think that The Riv is the most enjoyable and impressive layout in the Los Angeles area. The routing is wonderful and the positioning of the bunkers frame the visuals so well. The stunning par four 9th hole bringing you back towards the magnificent clubhouse is always my favourite hole and represents the brilliance of Thomas’ imagination. All of the holes at The Riv has a unique story to them, each so well designed and fitting perfectly into the flow of the landscape. The par four 10th hole may well be amongst the most famous on earth for its devilishly small putting surface running away from the approaching play. The club is moving towards a smaller membership, facilitated by tougher membership criteria and higher initiation fees ($250k). The conditioning is world class, as is expected from a facility of this nature. Watch out for the Hollywood celebrities and famous sports stars, this is where they play golf.

December 09, 2013
9 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Max Monroe
Special courses deserve distinction among their peers, Riviera should be noted.
October 26, 2011
10 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Stuart S Tillery
We walked into the pro shop at Riviera thinking they were not going to let us play. We did have permission, but I could not believe it was true. We got to the first tee and was waiting for the pro to say hey guys, but we all tee'd off and once we got to the bottom of the hill I knew we were on.It started off with a pretty easy hole and would have continued that way if I would not have gotten into the rough on #2. 6 was great and 7 and 8 were tough. 10 should be an easy hole, but everyone says if ou don't use driver you are a wimp. I don't think I used any less than a 6 iron on any of the par 4's and eighteen is alot more uphill than I thought and the green on TV makes it look 3 times as big as it really is. Greatest course in the US I have played so far.
July 09, 2010
10 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Edward
Played this golf course in 2002 and i was blown away by the nature of this course. It is set in very few acres and as a result the fairways are close to each other and the tees and greens are close by which is unusual for a US course. The grass is very different from your average course and it makes ball striking crucial otherwise the club gets stuck and the ball goes about a yard. The CH is probably the best I have ever seen with so many facilities inside it was unreal. Look out for all the houses on the cliff tops on the edge of the fairways on the front nine, Tom Hanks and Lionel Richie in particular have amazing pads. A truly great American golf course!
July 10, 2006
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful