Riviera Country Club Is Always the Star at the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open

Fred AltvaterContributor IIFebruary 12, 2014

The majestic clubhouse sits above the 18th green at Riviera Country Club.
The majestic clubhouse sits above the 18th green at Riviera Country Club.Harry How/Getty Images

Every year when the PGA Tour visits the City of Angels, golf fans get reacquainted with Riviera Country Club, one of the most iconic golf courses in the country.

Riviera has stood the test of time since it was first opened in 1926. George C. Thomas Jr. receives credit for designing this gem in the Santa Monica Canyon, but famed golf architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie also had a hand in the original planning and design.

Riviera Country Club is in Pacific Palisades, which is encompassed by Los Angeles. Because of its proximity to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Riviera has counted many famous celebrities among its membership.

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Falk, Dean Martin, Gregory Peck and Walt Disney are just a few of the marquee names that have walked the fairways at Riviera.

Riviera Country Club was even used as the back drop in three Hollywood movies. It seems only appropriate that the movie Follow the Sun, which pays homage to Ben Hogan’s life and his return to golf after his horrific car accident, was shot at Riviera.  

During a visit to the old clubhouse today, one might rub shoulders with current celebrities Tom Brady, Adam Sandler or Larry David.

The Northern Trust Open, formerly the L.A. Open, was first played at the Los Angeles Country Club in 1926 and was won by Harry Cooper.

Over the years, the tournament was hosted by a variety of Los Angeles area golf courses, but since 1973, it has been held solely at Riviera Country Club.

Ben Hogan won the L.A. Open at Riviera in 1942 and again in 1947 and 1948 consecutively. The 1948 U.S. Open was also held at Riviera, and Hogan won the second of his nine major championships here.

Throughout the years, Riviera has seen some of the biggest names in golf history hoisting the trophy on Sunday evening.

In addition to Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott have won at Riviera.

Fred Couples will be making his 32nd start in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. He won this event in 1990 and again in 1992. He also has had 14 top-10 finishes and has only missed the cut three times.

Riviera Country Club has weathered the tests of time and still demands the best of modern golfers. Narrow fairways coupled with small greens put a premium on accuracy.

The short par-four, No. 10 can be driven by today’s bombers, but depending on the pin placement, playing to the fairway and executing a precise short pitch to the green will yield more birdies.

No. 18 requires a perfectly placed drive and delicate approach shot to a severely sloping green to be awarded a chance for par. Birdies at No. 18 are rare and this hole demands the best from the players, especially late on Sunday afternoon.

The design of this classic beauty demands a solid all-around golf game. The player that holds the trophy and the big check on Sunday will have earned his place among the illustrious list of past winners.


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