Los Angeles CC (North),
Green Keeper: Bruce Williams
Golf in the United Kingdom originated by the sea on links land. As it gained in popularity,the gamemoved inland, first to the unique heathlandbelt around greater London and then later toparkland settings.
As for golf in the United States of America, consideringits geography, it is little surprise thatthe sheer number of parkland courses far and away out-number all other forms of golf combined, including links, mountain, desert, clifftop and prairie golf. What may be surprising is to find that one of the very finestparkland courses actually exists near bustling downtown Wilshire, California.
The setting in itself of the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club is exciting and is similar to having a golf course in Manhattan’s Central Park: the distant skyscrapers heighten the golfer’s appreciation of the tranquil beauty around both him and the deer (!).The nature of itsrolling terrain seems unique in the world of golf and George Thomas’s 1927 re-routing of Fowler’s original 1921 course took advantage of the numerous valleys, ridges, and hill tops to create a series of distinctive holes.
In 1927, Thomas could have well been describing LA North when he wrote in Golf Architecture in America, ‘To my mind, the most important thing in the Championship course is terrain, because no matter how skillfully one may lay out holes and diversify them, nevertheless one must get the thrill of nature. She must be big in moldings for us to secure complete exhileration and joy in golf.’
LA North is a prime example of Robert Hunter’s dictum that a course should not ‘have holes of similar character follow each other.’ This is one of the chief aspects that keeps courses ‘fresh’ in players’ minds – there is no monotony.
This basic principle of variety is frustratingly overlooked in the recentworks of several ‘name’ architects, such as Tom Fazio and Rees Jones. Their holes – and in turn courses – can have asimiliar look and it is increasingly easy to identify them as the architect of their courses. This patently is not the case at LA North as itis completelydifferent thanboth nearby Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club.
Holes to Note:
3rd hole, 385 yards: Though many modern architectsmight flatten the landing area, Thomas and Bell did not as they saw thenatural fairway contours as being integralwith thestrategy of the hole.In this case, the golfer may elect to forgo distance off the tee in order to gain a flatter stance for his approach. If so, he is left with a mid-iron approach to a green strikingly bunkered across its front right. Given the visual intimidation of this Bell bunker, many golferstry and be longwith their approach, which provides its own challengeas the green races away fromback left.
7th hole, 235 yards; The North Course may well be the hardest course in the state on a calm day, in part because its collection of one shotters pose a series of difficult long iron shots. Indeed, the challenge of the course is of such calibre that the U.S.G.A. begged LACC though the 1980sto host a U.S. Open.