11.8 C
Sunday, August 9, 2020
- Advertisement -

Riviera – Is truly perfection in Pacific Palisades

Must read

You Give Love a Bad Name*

When passion boils over into anger, there's no excuse for taking your rage out on the golf course. Sadly, that's exactly what happened on the 17th green at North West GC recently

Hazeltine memories highlight the fervour and fanaticism of US supporters

Another year to wait but much to ponder in the interim; a Ryder Cup in America is no place for the fainthearted, be they European players or fans

Fast & Fascinating facts

More tidbits from around the world of golf including the one time Masters champ who not only correctly predicted his win but also his aggregate score

Cursed in Foxford and Puerto Rico

Some curses seem harder to break than others, whether you're a Mayo footballer chasing an All-Ireland title or a Puerto Rico champion sentenced to PGA Tour doom

We’re lucky in Ireland to be able to play our top courses, it’s not quite as easy elsewhere.

It’s always wise to remind oneself that access to great golf courses in Ireland is easier than anywhere else on the planet. Sure, the odd club looks for northwards of €200 when charging full rack rate; but they are a rare breed that come with world class pedigree. Anyone can play them if they turn over the cash.

On the other hand, the top courses in the States can’t be accessed so easily. Most of them are private, many of them don’t want publicity and so they are infrequently heard of and almost never seen on our television screens. For those armchair addicts among us, Riviera, host to the annual LA Open, is one of the few classic courses that we get to feast our eyes upon year after year. It’s a private course, only for members and their guests. It’s also eye wateringly expensive to play, even if you do find yourself with an invite that gets you through the front gates. If you still need convincing how lucky we are on these shores, then you need to venture out more.

Fortunately, I had the chance to play Riviera recently. Even more fortunately, my green fee was waived. As expected, I found a club rife with history and old Hollywood glamour, much of which adds to the aura of exclusiveness. The course itself is the real star however, a bone fide original that deserves its name up in lights with the many famous members that grace its fairways.

It has an unusual and not altogether promising setting. Laid out in the 1920’s by “Captain” George Thomas Jr., it occupies a flat basin of land overlooked by imposing, outrageous mansions. The site’s main redeeming feature is a natural barranca that runs through the middle of the course. Long since dried up in the Californian drought, this ravine creates variety and shot angles so masterful that they should be required study for anyone interested in course design. It commands attention right from the first tee shot which is one of the greatest in golf, from up high in front of the clubhouse, way down in to the coliseum below. One almost expects to hear a cry of “Let the games begin!” as the ball is cracked towards the distant skyline.

The all year round sun necessitates one of the few negatives that could be levelled against the course; the need for Kikuyu, a warm season, broad-leaved grass that hinders the running game that we’re so used to on our firm and fast Irish links. But to pause on that sticking point for more than a moment would be to do a disservice to Riv’s piece-de-resistance: its bunkering. There isn’t a course anywhere in the world with a more strategically positioned bunker scheme than Riviera. Choices need to be made on every hole, dead ground and deception is common, the brain needs to hold court over brawn. Witness the Redan styled par-3 fourth, where the ideal shot is far to the right of the green, allowing a kick-plate to feed the ball down to the putting surface; or the long two shot ninth, where drives are pushed left into danger if the carry bunker isn’t met head-on. Not to mention the short sixth with its bunker in the middle of the green, mimicked but never equalled by subsequent designers, including Norman and his now deceased effort at Doonbeg. The seventh, eighth and eighteenth are other standout holes but it is the tenth that is universally considered as the best short par-4 on earth. And whilst it may be short, it is wide – very wide, almost 100m near the landing zone. Combined with the bunker placement, which cajoles and double-bluffs the weak-minded player, this width enhances the fiendishly difficult green, off-set and sloping away from the natural approach angle, only 10m across and surrounded on three sides by hazards best avoided. It is a cracking hole, truly visionary and like the sixth, much copied but never surpassed.

For those of us watching at home, the LA Open should be savoured. It’s not often that a course of such quality graces our weekend viewing schedule. My game wasn’t up to much that day; I was too much in awe of the architecture. As we stood on the 12th tee, my playing partner told me about an alleged spat between Julie Andrews and Mel Brooks, next door neighbours whose enormous villas towered over us at that very moment; but my focus was already on the fabulous looking green site up ahead. A story was there too: Humphrey Bogart used to sip bourbon under the sentinel tree that stands guard over it, watching closely as Hogan, Snead et al passed nonchalantly by. Riviera appears to be full of these tremendous tales. As I headed back through the front gates after my round, it felt like I was leaving a different world, a product of the roaring twenties when film and golf design were at their very best. Driving along the Pacific Highway, I was already savouring the memories; and already reminding myself how fortunate we are to be golfers on this open-to-all little island of ours; where great golf isn’t preserved just for the privileged few.

New Gear

FIRST LOOK: The all-new Titleist Tour Speed golf ball

Following years of rigorous product development, the introduction of the new Titleist Tour Speed provides golfers with their fastest, best performing golf ball yet

Adidas to unite golfers preparing for Tokyo 2021

The Tokyo Collection – made up of 41 footwear silhouettes across 19 sports, are all purposefully designed in a signal pink colourway to connect athletes without words

Shot Scope unveils V3 performance tracking and GPS watch

The new high-performing unisex V3 watch is sure to fit comfortably on the wrist of any golfer and boasts accurate readings to 30 centimeters

Galvin Green hits the shelves with eye-catching 2020 range

Galvin Green has turned to the ‘Science of Excellence’ for inspiration for its 2020 Part Two clothing range launched this month


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

McIlroy leads by example with act of class in round two

After his ball was trod on, Rory McIlroy found himself on the receiving end of a drop too good, uncomfortable that the lie he was given compromised the integrity of the game

Meadow in the mix at LPGA’s Marathon Classic

Stephanie Meadow reeled off two straight birdies to close out her round and cruise into the weekend mix at the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic

PGA leader Li sings the praise of early Irish-born coach McLoughlin

Leader Haotong Li was full of praise for a Dubliner's influence on his career but not many other Irish eyes were smiling after frustrating days for McIlroy, Lowry and McDowell

McIlroy & Lowry with it all to do at TPC Harding Park

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry face uphill moving day tasks to ensure they play themselves into contention over the weekend at the PGA Championship

Restrictions for golf in Kildare, Offaly and Laois

Those of you with a game of golf planned this weekend may want to have a look at the latest restrictions, not just for the three counties in question but those outside them too