U.S. Open Returns to Riviera Country Club

Rory McIlroy, 2023 Genesis Invitational, Riviera, (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 Genesis Invitational, Riviera, (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Fresh off a polarizing 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, the USGA announced on Wednesday that America’s Open will return to Los Angeles in 2031 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

“Riviera Country Club is a truly spectacular course that holds a special place in the game’s history,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Chief Championships Officer. “We are thrilled to bring the U.S. Open back to the site of such historic moments for golf and the USGA and look forward to writing a new chapter in 2031.”

That special place in golf’s history includes hosting three major championships, a U.S. Senior Open, and the U.S. Amateur Championship. Riviera also hosts the Genesis Invitational (formerly the Los Angeles Open) each February on the PGA Tour. It is one of the most popular courses on Tour with both players and fans alike.

Notable winners at Riviera include legends of the game like Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, and Fred Couples. Noticeably absent from that list are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Although both can boast runner-up finishes at Riv, neither man was able to break through for a win on the historic course.

However, in 1992 as an amateur and sophomore in high school, Tiger made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera. The wiry kid with the Hollywood smile would miss the cut, but he managed to get over that disappointment and go on to win 82 times on the PGA Tour with 15 major championships – not bad by most accounts.

Riviera Country Club is intimately linked to another legend of the game, Ben Hogan. He strung together an impressive run of three victories at Riviera in the L.A. Open between 1942 and 1948. In fact, he won the 1948 L.A. Open at Riviera and five months later, conquered the course again, this time in the U.S. Open, the first ever played in the state of California. Hogan’s unparalleled success at Riviera led to it being dubbed, “Hogan’s Alley.”

George C. Thomas, Jr. and William P. Bell designed the course. It opened in 1927 and soon became an intricate element of L.A. culture. The club was used as a movie set in its earliest days with stars like Katharine Hepburn, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin starring in motion pictures filmed at R.C.C. Over the years, a number of celebrities have been members at Riviera, including Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, Walt Disney, and Tom Brady.

Riviera features Poa annua greens which is common for west coast courses. However, the fairways and rough are Kikuya grass, a notoriously spongy type of grass that can make professionals look like one of us when trying to extricate themselves from the rough.

Riviera Returns to Major Spotlight in 2031

As preparations begin for the 2031 U.S. Open at Riviera, expect a few tweaks and changes to the course along the way. For example, the first hole at Riv is a notoriously easy par 5, but it is likely to be converted to a long par 4 for the U.S. Open. The tenth hole at Riviera is one of the most talked about and fun to watch on the PGA Tour. It is a drivable par 4, but with plenty of trouble all around (remember that sticky Kikuya grass in the rough?). Also, watch for the USGA to make the green at 10 a bit more forgiving to incentivize players to “go for it.”

Recent winners at Riviera for the Genesis Invitational include Jon Rahm (2023), Joaquin Niemann (2022), Max Homa (2021), and Adam Scott (2020). Winning scores for those tournaments range from 11-under par to 19-under par in 2022.

However, don’t expect those kinds of scores when the Open makes its return to Riviera. This will be a true U.S. Open test – the kind we have come to expect of these difficult, historic courses. Arnold Palmer said it best – “I consider it (Riviera) one of the great tests of golf.”

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The 2031 U.S. Open will take place at Riviera Country Club from June 12-15, 2031.