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Goodtime Course

Hole-by-Hole at Riviera With Glen Campbell at Site of His Former Tournament

February 22, 2001|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They didn't have many golf courses, let alone country clubs, in the rural area of Arkansas where Glen Campbell grew up. He's originally from Delight, population 431, located about 90 minutes southwest of Little Rock.

Campbell came to Los Angeles as a fresh-faced 24-year-old in 1961 to try to make it as a guitar player.

He was introduced to golf, and loved it. But it wasn't until his dreams of fame and fortune started to come true that Campbell could afford a country club membership.

In 1967, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" made him a star.

In 1969, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," initially a summer-replacement show, began a four-year run on CBS.

That's also the year Campbell became a member of Riviera County Club.

"I think I paid $4,000-something for a membership, can't remember for sure," he said. "About the same time, I paid $9,500 for a membership at Bel-Air."

Campbell these days plays golf as often as possible. He was among the celebrity competitors who took part in the four pro-am rounds of the five-round Bob Hope Chrysler Classic last week.

Campbell says his handicap has been as low as a four, but it is now around a 12.

Riviera has a special place in the heart of this Rhinestone Cowboy.

In 1971, at the height of his popularity, the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce asked Campbell to lend his name to the Los Angeles Open.

Having an entertainer's name associated with a tournament was a common practice. There were, of course, the Bing Crosby and the Hope. Other celebrities with their names on a tournament included Andy Williams, Sammy Davis Jr. and Danny Thomas.

"What they wanted me for was to bring in big-name entertainers for their big show at the Century Plaza on Tuesday, the day before the pro-am," Campbell said. "That first year I remember we got a lineup that included Helen Reddy and Rich Little. Gerald and Betty Ford were there the next year."

It was the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open from 1971 through '83.

In '71 and '72, the Glen Campbell L.A. Open was played at Rancho Park.

In 1973, the tournament moved back to Riviera, which had been the site in the '40s.

By 1983, Campbell had moved to Phoenix and was finding it difficult to set aside a week to devote to the tournament.

"Then I heard they wanted to call it the Toshiba Glen Campbell, or something like that," he said. "I remember I had always kidded Andy Williams about all the sponsors' names they were putting in front of his name.

"At least Chrysler has enough class to put its name behind Bob Hope's."

The 1983 L.A. Open was the last to have the name Glen Campbell attached to it. But before Campbell disassociated himself from the tournament, he says he went to then-commissioner Deane Beman to ask a favor.

"I told him Riviera deserved a major," Campbell said. "They ended up playing the 1983 PGA Championship there, the one won by Hal Sutton.

"I was very proud of playing a role in getting a major for Riviera."

These days, Campbell, 64, enjoys an easy mix of touring, golf and spending time with his family in Phoenix. He has three children with his fourth wife, Kim, and his 17-year-old son, Cal, is embarking on a musical career.

Immediately after his round at the Hope last Thursday he flew to Las Vegas for a performance that night. He flew back to L.A. later that night.

After his round at the Hope on Saturday, he sat down to talk about his favorite golf course, Riviera. He said in the early '70s, when his handicap was at an all-time low, he played there a lot with Dean Martin.

And they always bet.

"Dean and I usually had a $100 Nassau going," Campbell said.

A $100 Nassau involves match play, with the winner of the front nine getting $100, the winner of the back nine getting $100 and the overall winner getting $100, meaning one golfer could win $300.

A breakdown of Riviera in Campbell's words accompanies the drawings of the 18 holes.

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