Riviera Country Club

The rich history of the California club, plus facts and figures

Riviera Country Club 9th green and clubhouse
A view from in front of the ninth green at Riviera Country Club, looking up to the clubhouse. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Riviera Country Club is a well-known golf course, the site for decades of the PGA Tour tournament now known as the Genesis Open, and a course that has also hosted several major championships. The private club is located in Pacific Palisades, California, a community within the city limits of Los Angeles.

The famed Sunset Boulevard runs just north of the club (the nearby Brentwood Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club are also very close in proximity to Sunset Blvd.). Riviera Country Club is also just east of the Pacific Coast and California State Highway 1 - the famous Pacific Coast Highway.

In addition to its golf course, Riviera Country Club includes an equestrian center and a tennis club. Many Hollywood luminaries have been members at Riviera over the years.

The golf course begins with a short par-5, 503 yards from the tips but playing from a teeing ground elevated 70 feet above the fairway, with danger lurking from out-of-bounds pinching the fairway. The fourth hole is a long par-3 with a Redan-like green that Ben Hogan onced called the best par-3 in the United States. The sixth is another par-3, but there's a bunker in the middle of the green.

The 10th hole is a risk-reward hole, a driveable par-4 that multiple great golfers over the years have cited as one of the world's best par-4 holes. The 15th hole is a nearly 500-yard par-4 that plays into the prevailing wind, and the 17th is a nearly 600-yard par-5 that plays uphill all the way to the green.

Riviera's closing 18th hole is iconic, a long par-4 that plays uphill to a green tucked against a hillside and below the imposing clubhouse.

Overall, the Riviera Country Club course is considered a challenging layout with multiple notable holes and lush fairways and rough.

Contact Info

Can I Play Riviera Country Club?

Riviera CC is a private, members-only club. Non-members must be the guest of a member to play the golf course.

Riviera Country Club Origins and Architect

Riviera Country Club originated with a search for suitable golf course land by Frank Garbutt, a vice president of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, in 1922. Garbutt and other investors eventually settled on a piece of land in Santa Monica Canyon.

Architect George Thomas was hired in 1925 to design the layout, and construction began in 1926. Riviera Country Club officially opened on June 24, 1927. (Thomas' best-known other designs include Bel-Air Country Club, Stanford University Golf Course, and the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club.)

The famous clubhouse, which overlooks the course from a lofty hillside perch, was completed in 1928. The clubhouse includes 30 guest rooms for members.

Riviera CC Pars, Yardages, Ratings, Harzards and Turfs

These hole yardages are those in use at the Genesis Open, where Riviera CC is set up to play to a par of 71 and an average daily yardage of around 7,300 yards:

No. 1 - Par 5 - 503 yards
No. 2 - Par 4 - 471 yards
No. 3 - Par 4 - 434 yards
No. 4 - Par 3 - 236 yards
No. 5 - Par 4 - 434 yards
No. 6 - Par 3 - 199 yards
No. 7 - Par 4 - 408 yards
No. 8 - Par 4 - 433 yards
No. 9 - Par 4 - 458 yards
Out - Par 35 - 3,576 yards
No. 10 - Par 4 - 315 yards
No. 11 - Par 5 - 583 yards
No. 12 - Par 4 - 479 yards
No. 13 - Par 4 - 459 yards
No. 14 - Par 3 - 192 yards
No. 15 - Par 4 - 487 yards
No. 16 - Par 3 - 166 yards
No. 17 - Par 5 - 590 yards
No. 18 - Par 4 - 475 yards
In - Par 36 - 3,746 yards

Here are the yardages, course ratings and slope ratings for the tees in use for member play:

  • Black Tees: 7,279 yards, par-71, 73.9 USGA course rating, 141 slope rating
  • Blue Tees: 7,013 yards, par-71, 72.0/132
  • White Tees: 6,531 yards, par-71, 72.0/136
  • Women's Tees: 5,907 yards, par-74, 74.9/138

There are 60 sand bunkers at Riviera, the average green size is 5,000 square feet the greens are groomed to run at 12 on the Stimpmeter for tournament play. Kikuyugrass is the turf used in the fairways and rough. Creeping bentgrass and poa annua are on the putting greens.

Significant Tournaments at Riviera Country Club

Riviera is the site of the PGA Tour's Los Angeles tournament each year. That event was known for much of its history as the Los Angeles Open; today it carries the name Genesis Open. In addition to the PGA Tour event:

  • 1948 U.S. Open: Ben Hogan
  • 1983 PGA Championship: Hal Sutton
  • 1995 PGA Championship: Steve Elkington
  • 1998 U.S. Senior Open: Hale Irwin

More Riviera Country Club History and Trivia

  • Riviera is one of several locations within the golf world that carries the nickname "Hogan's Alley." It acquired that nickname after Ben Hogan won the 1947 and 1948 Los Angeles Opens, plus the 1948 U.S. Open, at the course.
  • In early 1949, Hogan suffered serious injuries in a car crash in Texas. He made his return to tournament golf at Riviera, playing the 1950 Los Angeles Open in January. Hogan's comeback was almost storybook - he tied Sam Snead after 72 holes. But Snead won the 18-hole playoff and the tournament trophy.
  • A statue of Hogan overlooks Riviera's 18th hole.
  • That 1948 U.S. Open was the first one played west of the Rocky Mountains.
  • According to Riviera's website, the original course construction cost $243,827.63, which made Riviera CC the second-most expensive golf course built to that time.
  • The Los Angeles Open was first played in 1926, and first was played at Riviera Country Club in 1929. Riviera has been the permanent home of the tournament since 1973. Macdonald Smith was the first winner of the tournament at Riviera CC.
  • Riviera Country Club was the site for all equestrian events during the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. (Hal Roach and Will Rogers were among those who persuaded the club to build an equestrian center in the late 1920s.)
  • Actress Elizabeth Taylor took riding lessons at Riviera's equestrian center in preparation for her role in the movie National Velvet.
  • Multiple golf movies have been filmed in part at Riviera Country Club, including Follow the Sun (the Ben Hogan story), Pat and Mike (Tracy & Hepburn), and The Caddy (Martin & Lewis).
  • Willie Hunter, winner of the 1921 British Amateur, was the head professional at Riviera from 1936-1964.
  • From 1987 to 1993, former European Tour and PGA Tour winner and Ryder Cup player Peter Oosterhuis was Riviera's Director of Golf. In 1992, Oosterhuis hosted 16-year-old Tiger Woods for a practice round in advance of Woods' first appearance in a PGA Tour tournament, the 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open (Woods missed the cut).
  • Hale Irwin won the 1976 Los Angeles Open at Riviera, and 22 years later won the 1998 U.S. Senior Open there.
  • Jack Nicklaus' pro debut happened at the 1962 Los Angeles Open at Riviera. His first paycheck? $33.33.
  • Nicklaus fired a final-round 66 to scare leader Hal Sutton at the 1983 PGA Championship, but Sutton made pars the final four holes to hang on for a 1-stroke win.