The pinnacle for most golf courses is hosting a PGA Tour event. But The Riviera Country Club is not most golf courses.
The site of this weekend's Northern Trust Open has a history that overshadows the action on the fairways and greens. Nestled in the Pacific Palisades of Los Angeles, Riviera has hosted the tournament since 1973, save for two years it was preparing for more prominent events. Before that time, though, it was the playground of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Since its opening in 1927, Riviera has starred in movies and television, hosted Olympic events and served as a wedding location for several famous names in the sporting world. Its membership includes a who's who of the best box office draws of the past hundred years.
Not to say the country club doesn't have a rich history of golf. Ben Hogan won there so many times in the 1940's that Riviera is also known as Hogan's Alley. Tiger Woods played his very first PGA Tour event there in 1992 as an amateur, using a sponsor's exemption. (He shot 72-75 and missed the cut.) Woods has played the tournament 11 times and never finished at the top of the leaderboard, making it the most times he's played any event without winning it.
But it's the pictures hanging in the clubhouse that tell the real story of what Riviera is. It's the guest rooms named after the famed visitors who spent the night. It's a course that, regardless of any PGA Tour event, would be among the most prestigious and talked about in the world. Here are just a handful of the people and moments that the Northern Trust Open has to compete with.
Riviera C.C. is right down the road from Hollywood, so it makes sense that the biggest stars of stage and screen would join the exclusive club, which has an initiation fee of $250,000. Past and present members include Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin, Walt Disney, Gregory Peck, Peter Falk, Vic Damone, Adam Sander, Larry David, Dennis Quaid and Luke Wilson.
The country club is filled with pictures of the famous that have teed it up there, none as renowned as a foursome that included Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Bing Crosby. The clubhouse also boasts 30 guest suites, many named after legendary visitors like Bobby Jones, Dean Martin and Walt Disney.
Pat and Mike, the 1952 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Babe Zaharias, was shot at Riviera.
The Caddy, starring Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, was filmed there a year later and included a cameo appearance by Ben Hogan.
Follow the Sun, which starred Glenn Ford and Anne Baxter, recounted Hogan's comeback from a 1949 car accident, and shot many of its scenes at Riviera.
Larry David has filmed many golf scenes for his show Curb Your Enthusiasm at Riviera C.C.
Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki avoided the media by having a small, 16-person wedding at Riviera.
Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask made planners and family nervous while glued to a TV at Riviera in 1985. The bride-to-be refused to get dressed for her wedding before the Raiders finished an overtime win.
Riviera C.C. was a host site for the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The dressage equestrian and riding portions of the modern pentathlon events were held there.
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