PACIFIC PALISADES, California Short, rideable par 4s are easy, right?
Well, not always. No. 10 at Riviera Country Club is one of the classic short holes in golf and the PGA Tours confuses the best in the Genesis Invitational every year. It seems like it should be an easy bird for Tour pros, but disaster is always lurking.
In addition to hosting the Genesis, formerly the Los Angeles Open for 57 years, Riviera was the site of three men’s majors: the 1948 US Open (Ben Hogan won), the 1983 PGA Championship (Hal Sutton), and the PGA Championship in 1995 (Steve Elkington). With challenges such as # 10, it’s no wonder the majors were won by some of the premium ballstrikers of their eras. Adam Scott, another of the club’s leading swinger, won the Genesis Invitational last year.
Riviera was designed by George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell, and is ranked 18th on Golf Week’s Best list of classic courses built in the United States before 1960. It opened in 1927 when golf balls flew nowhere near as far as they do today, and while the challenges at No. 10 have changed a bit over the years, the hole is no less daunting just because of its short overall length. Simply put, this hole is in the players’ heads.
Thanks to various maps from Puttview, the maker of detailed meter books for more than 30,000 courses around the world, we can see exactly what challenges the players face this week. The Puttview books contain topographic maps of the green showing the surfaces in detail, and the pages for No. 10 in Riviera are full of problems.
The 315-yard, par-4 10th is easy to reach for most Tour players, swinging drivers or even 3-wood, but the green is a small strip that slopes dramatically front to back and side to side from the front . Three bunkers on the greenside are anything but easy escapes, as players often shoot from one sandbox to another, great fun to watch, terrifying when standing on the scoreboard.
Players face a choice from the tee: Lay on the left side of a fairway bunker 254 yards from the tee to shoot a longer wedge with more spin, or send it 271 yards over the fall to hopefully get a shorter pitch straight up the length of the green. But a group of trees guards the left landing area in the rough, and those traps on the green are always in play.
There’s a chance to drive it to the left of the green, 287 yards from the tee, but it’s also common to watch a tee ball jump over the green and land in a difficult spot. If the pin is in the back right of the green, long and pointed to the left, a throw above the back bunker is no place to be.
It is not uncommon to see players run or fall short of their approach shots over the green and see the ball trickling back down the greenside slopes, assuming they have missed the bunkers. All in all, it is one of the trickiest short approach shots in golf.
Good luck tomorrow guys. Will miss the game with you this week, but looking forward to seeing you on Riv. Watch out for # 10. https://t.co/0WIoyyi03T
– Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) February 17, 2021
How do the pros plan to play it in Genesis this week? Check out their reactions:
I’ll try to hit it. Don’t really go for it because I don’t think I’ll ever try to hit it on the green because it’s almost impossible to do that, but yeah I’m trying to get it green-high to the left.
Statistically, as my dad pointed out to me, I’m not very good from 50 to 125 meters. I wouldn’t stay on that hole. That would let me in about 50 to 125 meters. So I’ll go for it like I do every two years and have a little bit of confidence going up and down and some good bounces here and there. The 10th here is a special hole, it’s a keyhole to the tournament and it can make or break your week a bit.
Most likely I’ll hit the driver every day or whatever gets me to that front just kind of rolls over. I keep looking at the wedge-shaped bulkhead. I keep saying yes we can do a 70 yard wedge shot, we can do a 100 yard wedge shot but when you look at the green and how narrow and shallow it is it just doesn’t make sense in my head .
Like especially how firm the greens are, that first bounce so far is going to bounce, so you work with two meters, two, three meters. When you are at work you are going to take that shot but when you are away a little bit and there is wind or it is cold or whatever it can cost you to be in the short bunker it can cost you to to be over.
You hit the driver, hit it down there, most likely you hopefully have a chip shot. If you don’t have it by the pin, you have a chip shot in the middle of the green, two-putt, you know. When I’m par I won’t be sad, I won’t be happy, I’ll just be okay with even par because I don’t think I really lose shots on the field if I even par through four rounds on that hole .
“I think pretty much generally the strategy now is to move it down as far as possible, to the left front of the green. Obviously hitting a 3 wood is hard to pinpoint where exactly it will end, or the driver, but I think that’s the best game overall.
“The green is so narrow and this week it’s so firm, I certainly don’t want to leave myself on a 90-meter field. There is probably little chance of hitting the green, so then you get into that bunker situation. So take it down at the front left.
“It could just be conditions or wind or something that would change that strategy, I think for me. You just have to get it down there, throw the dice just a little bit. If you take a great shot and it ends on the green, that’s great. Otherwise you just start scrambling around the green. Sometimes you have to break it down from 30 feet, that’s the best you can do. “