The question of whether Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) should be allowed to host the US Open again is a matter of consideration. Several factors were noted during the recent tournament that raised concerns among players and affected the viewing experience for spectators.
One key aspect lacking at LACC was the vibrant atmosphere typically associated with major championships and PGA Tour events. The physical footprint of the golf course is relatively small compared to other US Open venues, and the terrain may not be ideal for golfers. These factors could have contributed to fewer tickets being sold, resulting in a less lively atmosphere. Such considerations should be seen as essential prerequisites for selecting a venue.
The maximum daily attendance at LACC is limited to 23,000 people, while other venues, such as the recent event in Brooklyn, accommodated up to 30,000 attendees on the weekends. In 2016, Oakmont welcomed as many as 50,000 spectators, highlighting how a smaller footprint can lead to lower attendance figures. Golf fans often invest significant amounts of money to secure tickets, so having easy accessibility is a reasonable expectation. Players like Matt Fitzpatrick expressed surprise at the lower turnout during the tournament, wishing for more spectators to create a livelier atmosphere.
Another aspect that impacted the atmosphere was the allocation of tickets. A higher percentage of tickets were allocated to suites and hospitality areas, leaving only a limited number for general admission. Reports suggest that LACC may have shifted around 4,000 to 4,500 tickets from general admission to other areas. As a result, there were fewer tickets available for the general public, which ultimately affected the overall atmosphere. A national championship like the US Open should be a spectacle with a significant number of spectators on the golf course.
Additionally, the logistics of LACC made it challenging for spectators to access the venue, and the terrain, gorges, and layout of the golf course hindered optimal viewing for a large crowd. Spectators often found themselves positioned around 150 yards away from the tees and greens, as that was the most accessible area for viewing.
Considering these factors, it appears that LACC has room for improvement before potentially hosting the US Open again in 2039. In comparison, Chambers Bay has been deemed a disaster for spectators, requiring the use of binoculars, and is not currently scheduled to host the event. Meanwhile, Pinehurst, Oakmont, and Pebble Beach remain recurring courses in the rotation, with Pinehurst set to host the event next year. These venues have ample land and good accessibility. Other courses like Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Brookline CC (2022), and Merion (2012) can be rotated in periodically.
Ultimately, the question arises of what is more important: providing the ultimate golf challenge for the world’s best golfers with an 18-hole course or having an accessible and convenient venue for the on-course viewing public? Finding a balance between these two aspects will be crucial for future decisions regarding US Open host venues.