The ‘LACC’, as it is commonly referred, is laid out slap bang in the middle of Beverly Hills, and if you need any reminder there is a sign on the opposite side of the street to the entrance to the golf club saying: “Beverly Hills”. However, there is no sign to identify the 325 acres laid-out the other side of high security gates.
Famed Wiltshire Blvd splits the two courses but doesn’t disturb the North Course.
Some other famed Hollywood roads and streets border the course, including Sunset Blvd to the north and Santa Monica Blvd on its southern border, with other roads such as Rodeo Drive just a couple of streets away. Paramount Studios are also located just some six miles to the east along Wiltshire and turning right onto Beverly Blvd.
The residence that used to be The Playboy Mansion is next door and actually features on Google Maps tucked in the north-west corner of the North Course, clearly showing it’s ‘over the fence’ proximity to the 13th tee, where any shot really long into the 12th green looks as if it might have cleared the boundary fence and possibly ended up among the bunnies.
It understood Hugh Hefner, who of course owned the mansion, sought to seek membership of the club but was always denied, and he was not alone. Groucho Marx approached the LACC to become a member, he also was turned down prompting the cigar-chomping third eldest member of the comedy team to comment: “Why would I want to belong to a club that would have me as a member?”
Marx also wasn’t on his own as Randolph Scott also applied, and when also declined is reputed to have remarked: “Haven’t you seen any of my movies?” Victor Mature tried a similar approach when his application was rejected. “I’ve never been an actor,” he protested. “And I’ve got 70 movies to prove it.”
According to “Golf in Hollywood” and other books on the subject, the Hillcrest club was founded in 1921 because the Los Angeles Country Club did not admit Jewish people at the time.
The club opened on its present site in May, 1911 and hosted the first big amateur event being the 1930 US Women’s Open.
However, the LA Country Club front gates were also not always open for big-time golf, amateur or professional. It is understood, members were so annoyed by the ruckus of 3,500 outsiders invading their space for the 1954 U.S. Junior Amateur that the club voted to cancel plans to stage the 1958 U.S. Amateur and instead the Olympic Club in San Francisco accepted the honour.
There was also the likelihood of the club hosting the 1986 U.S. Open, but the board voted 5-4 against it, and it was Shinnecock Hills that staged the tournament.
In 2010, a still relatively new golf course designer namd Gil Hanse was handed the job of redesigning the course. Hanse’s first 18-hole project was 25-years ago this month, having designed the now much-acclaimed second course known as Craighead Links at Crail Golfing Society, just a short drive east of St. Andrews. (Your writer is a proud 22-year member & will be speaking to Gil ahead of the anniversary).
Hanse then beat the best golf designers in the world in being handed the design of the 2016 Olympic Games course in Rio de Janeiro, while he has designed many super courses, including the also much-acclaimed Streamsong ‘Black’ course at Fort Meade in Florida.
With the reopening of the North Course following Hanse’s redesign work, members at the LA Country Club were keen to show off the finished product that resulted in the USGA choosing the course to host the 2017 Walker Cup, with a USA team then boasting Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris and Cameron Champ handing the visiting GB&I team a 19-7 drubbing.
Now for the first time since the 1948 US Open when Ben Hogan defeated Lloyd Magnum and George Fazion in a play-off at the Pacific Palisades, some seven miles west of this week’s host venue, a US Open is returning to the most populous city in the USA.
Suffice to say, the Hollywood starlets could be out in force.