L.A. Country Club is part mystery, part myth that the U.S. Open will reveal

An aerial photo Los Angeles Country Club, which will play host to the 2023 U.S. Open.
An aerial photo Los Angeles Country Club, which will play host to the U.S. Open this week.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

Tinseltown loves a big reveal, and that’s what the U.S. Open has in Los Angeles Country Club, the greatest course people have never seen.

The club will play host to its first major championship this upcoming week — the first time the U.S. Open has come to this city in 75 years — and it will be an eye-opener for the golf world.

Untold droves of Angelenos have no idea where LACC is located, let alone the phenomenal look of the place.

Many of the competitors have never played the storied North Course, including Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, who walked the holes with his team multiple times last week, gathering as much intel as he could.


“It’s like an unveiling,” said Gene Sykes, president of the club, bisected by Wilshire Boulevard between Beverly Hills and Westwood. “A lot of golf people kind of know of it or have heard about it, but have never been there. It’s mythic in some ways.”

Here’s a closeup look at all 18 holes of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, the site of the 2023 U.S. Open, which begins Thursday.

June 11, 2023

Now, it’s myth meets reality when the club opens its gates to the world’s best golfers and tens of thousands of spectators. The first fairway is lined with double-decker corporate chalets, and there are the traditional and gigantic white tents for the merchandise center and the media, but there are relatively few grandstands. The goal was to keep the course as uncluttered and unaltered as possible.

In a time of change and upheaval, with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf announcing a merger, LACC should provide all sides with some degree of unanimity: The North Course is a masterpiece.

Yet, as with all U.S. Opens, there are changes to the course that make it even more difficult.

The first tee, for instance, has been moved back to the practice putting green in front of the clubhouse in order to lengthen the par-five hole.

The opening tee shot is over colorful rows of roses, a nod to George C. Thomas, who designed the North Course, which opened for play in 1921. Fellow course architect Gil Hanse restored that design in 2010.


“George Thomas was a rosarian, and his passion was growing hybrid roses,” said John Chulick, who co-chairs the club’s U.S. Open committee with Dick Shortz. “After he designed his courses around here — Bel Air, Riviera, us — he basically retired and devoted the rest of his life to raising roses.”

VIDEO | 03:30
The U.S. Open holes that can make or break a round of golf

There are several unusual aspects to the course, measured at 7,421 yards for this major championship, including five par-three holes that depending on the pin placement range from 300 yards to the 78-yard 15th, which will be the shortest hole in U.S. Open history.

Although there aren’t many grandstands on the grounds, there’s one in prime position behind the 623-yard 14th hole, ideally situated for fans to watch players daring to go for that tricky green in two.

Those seats are also a prime vantage for the action on that ultra-short 15th, where the challenge of putting a tee shot near the pin is tantamount to dropping a lob wedge down a chimney.

At the 2013 Pac-12 championships, Cal’s Max Homa of Valencia shot a course-record 61 at LACC, a tremendous feat, even though the pin placements got much more challenging after that opening day. He’s now seventh in the World Golf Rankings.


Patrick Cantlay, who played at UCLA, is ranked fourth and knows the North Course well. He should, it neighbors his alma mater.

“I probably played it a few dozen times,” Cantlay said. “It’s a golf course I’ve played a lot. I saw that — I played it in December and saw that the USGA’s going to set it up quite different than how it plays week to week for the members. … I’ve heard some guys say that they think it’s going to play really easy. I don’t think it will.”

Like the club itself, more will be revealed.

VIDEO | 06:12
LA Times Today: South L.A. golf course at the center of ambitious community investment effort

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.