Riviera Country Club, site of 38 Los Angeles Opens since 1926, will undergo a restoration project beginning in April that will produce major changes on three holes and minor changes on several others, head professional Todd Yoshitake said.
Planning is underway to rebuild the Nos. 7, 8 and 17 holes, portions of which were destroyed in a 1939 flood. The new holes will mirror, as closely as possible, the original holes of course designer George C. Thomas. Noted course architect Tom Fazio has been enlisted to help restore the holes.
"At one time, Riviera was ranked among the top three courses in the nation," Yoshitake said. "That was the pre-flood Riviera. We're hoping to bring some of that back."
The most dramatic change will occur on No. 8, where a second fairway will be added along the right side and the tee will be moved back 25 yards. The hole currently plays as a 364-yard, slight dogleg right par four. The new fairway will add the option of playing it as a dogleg left.
"We think most players will choose one fairway at the beginning of the week and then play it the same way all week," Yoshitake said.
Trees along the left side of No. 7 will be removed and replaced with a large bunker that is 250 yards from the tee and requires a 290-yard carry to get over it.
No. 17 will get a new bunker on the right side of the fairway and the cart path will be moved to the left side.
In addition, the barranca that cuts across the first fairway will become more prominent on other parts of the course and subtle changes will be made to help protect against today's longer hitters.
"We talked to some older players and they said guys today are hitting seven-irons in to holes that used to take a four- or five-iron," Yoshitake said. "We're hoping that these renovations will help bring back some of the shot values as in the past. We want today's players to hit the same shots that Ben Hogan hit."
It's a little easier being green: The greens at Riviera have been getting rave reviews from players this week, a far cry from the disaster at the 1995 PGA Championship.
Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate are among the players who said the greens are in the best shape they have ever seen them.
Course superintendent Paul Ramina, who started at Riviera in 1998, said new fertilizers, an underground air-circulation system and tree trimming to allow more sunlight have played the most significant roles in the improvement.
But the most important factor, he said, was good old-fashioned TLC.
"Some of the members might complain that we [aerate] too much," Ramina said. "But dedication is the key."
Hey, bud, can I bum a ride? The shuttle that carries caddies from the parking lot at Paul Revere Jr. High to the course unexpectedly stopped running Saturday morning when the volunteer assigned to drive the van abandoned it near the course.
Among those stranded was John Burke, caddie for tournament leader Davis Love III.
Burke hitched a ride on the media shuttle, which runs from the same parking lot. Presumably, the volunteer wanted to see golfers, not caddies.
Hit 'em where it hurts: Residents of the ritzy Pacific Palisades neighborhood surrounding Riviera are notorious for complaining about the traffic at tournament time, but one family has found a way to get back at the tournament.
Bruce and Stacy Kirshbaum, who live a block from the main entrance, invited family over and set up shop along the main foot-traffic corridor into the tournament.
With the help of nieces and nephews, they sell water, coffee, doughnuts, cigars and umbrellas at prices lower than fans will find inside and donate a portion of the profits to charity.
Does the tournament hassle them about their business?
"They better not with the inconvenience they cause this neighborhood," said Kelly Green, Stacy Kirshbaum's sister.