George Thomas, Billy Bell And L.A. North
Kicking off the march to 2023's U.S. Open with a look at the architects who transformed a mediocre course into a masterpiece.
This is the first of several deep dives into Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course. Given the lack of familiarity most have with the 2023 U.S. Open host, I’ll be using material gleaned from research into architects George Thomas and Billy Bell to help Quadrilateruralistas understand how this ingenious redesign came to fruition. We’ll aslso look at how it was restored in 2010 and what makes each of its 18 holes so fantastic. This first installment considers the unusual evolution of the North, from a criticized hodgepodge of ideas and into the masterpiece that will be on display in June.
Imagine a filmmaker updating a six-year-old movie they released to underwhelming reviews. The auteur re-writes the script, re-edits scenes to turn once-panned performances into Oscar nominees, and uses the latest special effects to somehow turn the film into a widely-revered cinematic tour de force.
The golf architectural equivalent is George C. Thomas Jr.’s history with L.A. North. But in this case, the artistic redo was spread over 200 acres, full of political hurdles and carried out while trying to gloss over flaws from the previous design. The resulting creation remains unlike anything ever pulled off in the world of golf architecture.