Only days after Los Angeles Country Club completed hosting its first US Open, the city was in the spotlight for securing another major championship, at maybe the most unlikely of courses in the modern age of big crowds and massive hospitality footprints.
Overnight, the Los Angeles Times reported that Riviera Country Club, which last hosted the US Open in 1948 and annually stages the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, has agreed to hold the 2031 US Open. The news was later confirmed in a formal announcement from the United States Golf Association.
The Times reported that the news was communicated in an e-mail to members on Tuesday night by Riviera president Megan Watanabe, the daughter of the club’s long-time owner, Noboru Watanabe.
“It has been one of my biggest goals to bring back major championships to Riviera since I started working for Riviera, and it truly represents the culmination of a dream that my family has had since acquiring the club in 1989,” wrote Watanabe, the club’s first female president.
The news of Riviera getting the US Open was first reported by California Golf + Travel last week.
Riviera agreed in 2022 to host the 2026 US Women’s Open. But it figured that might be the attendance and corporate limit for a layout that sits in a canyon with little space between holes. The consensus has been that the property was too small to host a 21st century major. Parking and traffic would also seem to be of significant concern, with only a couple of thoroughfares leading to the Riviera in the community of Pacific Palisades.
However, the USGA has opted during the past decade to choose more historical courses, even if they don’t present the same attendance opportunities. Those sites include Merion, The Country Club and this year, Los Angeles Country Club, where only 22,000 tickets were distributed per day. Size can be deceiving at times, because the USGA built fewer, but taller, skyboxes that provided the largest corporate footprint in US Open history, with significant proceeds going from LACC’s sale of hospitality to the USGA coffers.
Television is also a consideration. The USGA has seen growing opportunities to please broadcast partners by having primetime coverage in the east at Pebble Beach, The Olympic Club, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay.
NBC Sports said overnight that viewership of last week’s US Open, won by Wyndham Clark, was up 27 percent compared to the 2022 championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Matt Fitzpatrick won. The network said it averaged 6.2 million viewers across NBC and Peacock. That was nine percent better than 2021, when Torrey Pines in San Diego hosted the US Open captured by Jon Rahm.
There has never been a doubt about the greatness of Riviera Country Club as a golf test. Currently ranked 18th in Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, the George C. Thomas design is a classic, where many of the game’s greats have won – with the notable exception of Tiger Woods. Riviera last hosted a major in 1995, when Australia’s Steve Elkington beat Colin Montgomerie in a playoff at the PGA Championship.
Securing Riviera gives the USGA 12 consecutive years of future US Open sites, and 16 of the next 19 are set through 2042. The only open dates now are 2036, 2038 and 2040. In all, 20 sites have been determined through 2051.
The next US Open played in California will be at Pebble Beach in 2027. The legendary seaside course, which hosts the US Women’s Open for the first time this July, also is set for US Opens in 2032 – the year after Riviera – 2037 and 2044.
Los Angeles Country Club is scheduled to hold the 2039 US Open.