Riviera Prepares for Olympic Glory

Riviera’s famed 18th green
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Since it opened in 1926, Riviera Country Club has become one of the most famous golf courses in the world, hosting the PGA Tour’s annual LA event (currently called the Genesis Open), three major championships (the 1948 U.S. Open and the 1983 and 1995 PGA Championships), the 1998 U.S. Senior Open and, last month, the U.S. Amateur. Eleven years from now, another prestigious tournament could be added to the list.

On Sept. 13, the International Olympic Committee officially awarded Los Angeles the 2028 Summer Games, and Riviera has been chosen the designated venue for the golf competition, should the sport be approved through 2028 as expected. The sport has been approved for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan and the 2024 Games in Paris, France.

LA has hosted the Summer Olympics twice before, in 1932 and 1984, though golf was not an event at either. Riviera did, however, host equestrian events in the 1932 Games.

Golf returned to the Olympics last summer in Rio de Janeiro after a 112-year hiatus (the sport was previously featured in the 1900 and 1904 Games). A total of 22 golfers from four nations competed at the inaugural event in Paris in 1900, when Charles Sands, a pro at the St. Andrews Golf Club in Yonkers, New York, was the men’s gold medalist after firing rounds of 82 and 85 at the Compiegne Club. The next day, Margaret Abbott of Chicago Golf Club shot a 47 over nine holes to become the first American female to win an Olympic gold medal, although she was presented a bowl, not a medal.

Four years later in St. Louis, 77 competitors from Canada and the U.S. competed in a match-play format at Glen Echo Country Club, with George Lyon of Richmond, Ontario, winning the individual gold medal.

 Riviera, famous for its kikuyu greens and Poa annua meadow grass fairways, is accustomed to holding major golf events and although the 2028 Games are more than a decade away, security and traffic issues are of paramount concern.

As part of the deal, LA is expected to receive at least $1.8 billion from the IOC. The 2028 Games will mark the first time a U.S. city will host the Olympics since Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in 2002. The last time the Summer Olympics were held on American soil was 1996 in Atlanta.