In the absence of He Who Dominates The Tour, the LA Times says that the Riviera is the main attraction on the PGA Tour this week. They’re giving short shrift to the other fine players who are there—in fact, 17 of the top 20—but the paper is correct about the importance and beauty of the course:
Woods is not here, but the golf course doesn’t know it.
This is still Riviera, a jewel in the crown of golf course design. The views are still breathtaking, starting with the opening-hole panorama from the hilltop clubhouse. It’s still downhill from there for the golfers, a 503-yard, get-the-jitters-out, par-five.
The par-three sixth hole still has a bunker in the middle of the green. Not intimidated by a game now dominated by 300-yard bombers, the 315-yard, par-four 10th still stands the go-for-broke test. The par-five at No. 11 is still eucalyptus-lined and still has a lot of bark, while the finisher at No. 18 remains an uphill, dogleg right, requiring two solid strikes to get on the green in two.
This is still the Riviera where Dean Martin played cards and Greta Garbo once lived above the 13th fairway.
It remains the Riviera that Ben Hogan made famous. Hogan won here three times. Sam Snead did it twice.
Woods is not here, but 17 of the world’s top 20 players are, a testament to a course long revered by players at a time of year when the PGA Tour takes a serious turn.
“It wasn’t built for a housing development,” Howell said of Riviera, which was designed by George Thomas and opened in 1927. “It wasn’t built for golf carts. It was built just for pure golf. That’s a rarity these days on tour.”
The Times is right. The Riviera is one of the classic courses on tour, and the tournament is one that I watch just to see the course.