Bonk On Riviera Changes

Thomas Bonk writes about Riviera's latest changes.

The greens on three par-four holes — the third, ninth and 12th — have been brought back to their original size and shape, all of them slightly enlarged to take away the encroachment of the Kikuyu over the years and to come up with pin placements that had been lost since the club opened in 1926.

It opened on June 24, 1927, but hey, no worries.

"We're restoring them to recover the flexibility that Riviera had in the very beginning," said Michael Yamaki, the club's general manager. "Mother Nature has been the one who kind of grabbed those greens. We fought back."

Mother Nature? We fought back?  Hopefully Captain Thomas doesn't get the L.A. Times where he is now.

Tom Fazio, the architect who oversaw Riviera's previous round of changes in 2003, which basically involved the lengthening of the course, was again at the head of this latest project with the greens.

A half-day visit en route to the desert constitutes heading a project? Poor Tom Marzolf does all of the work and gets no ink. Then again, looking at the 7th, 8th, and 15th holes, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Todd Yoshitake, Riviera's head pro, said the pin placements now reflect what was available in the past.

"We're getting back to our heritage," he said.

The insights you glean in the Times!

Looking through club archives and maps of the layout and studying aerial views of the course from the 1930s helped Fazio discover the original shapes of the greens that Yamaki targeted for restoration. Computer enhancement of the aerial photographs provided nearly precise dimensions of the greens. In their research, the revisionists discovered that the Kikuyu had moved in more than three inches on the greens.

The revisionists discovered that the Kikuyu had moved in more than three inches.