WASHINGTON — Last week PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan rocked the sports world with the surprising announcement that the PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) had entered into a landmark agreement to unify the game of golf, on a global basis. This news was met with very mixed emotions from tour players, fans, and the media causing plenty of talk from New York to Tokyo.
But do not expect a great deal of conversation about the future because this week the golf world does not want to overshadow the 2023 U.S. Open. It is fitting that this year’s event is being played in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, one of golf’s majors will be played at the posh Los Angeles Country Club a gorgeous course that has never been seen on television.
The last time the tournament was played in Los Angeles Ben Hogan won the title at the Riviera Country Club and set a U.S. Open scoring record that stood until 2000 when Tiger Woods broke it. While Los Angeles has not hosted a U.S. Open since 1948, the championship has often been contested in California.
Recently, at an NBC media event talking about the network’s coverage I had a chance to interact with the NBC broadcast team led by Dan Hicks who anchors the coverage, and he is excited about this week’s event. “I am really rooting for this U.S. Open to kind of rescue us all, even for a few days, from the story that I think everybody knows has been so divisive. I think that LACC, the North Course, is just the kind of place to do that. Most people watching have never seen it in person, much less on TV. The way it will be presented will be really cool, primetime, East Coast. West Coast U.S. Opens are always some of my favorite ones to do because I just think the eyeballs on it and the audience just gets bigger because of the primetime audience out east.”
Hicks and the NBC production team led by producer Tommy Roy will tackle an LACC course that is tight with five par 3 holes along with a very tough stretch of four par 4 closing holes making this course one of the unique U.S. Open layouts. Along with the tightness of the course, there is an elevation challenge to battle as the fairways have an amazing slope and there will many times that the ball will roll in any number of directions before stopping making for some crazy-looking shots.
“I think there were 130 guys for six spots, and we weren’t even allowed to play a practice round,“ said NBC lead analyst Paul Azinger. “I went in their blind and shot 73 and qualified as one of the six players. It’s not an easy course. I think it’s going to be some people looking at it thinking it may be easy, but I don’t believe it’s going to be. It’s not going to be overly long, and it is truly a George Thomas masterpiece that is just so pleasing to the eye.”
Another plus for NBC is that this U.S. Open is being played in the city and that really makes for some fun shots for the production team to give the fans plenty of great Los Angeles landmarks from the Sunset Strip to Hollywood to the beaches all in primetime. There will also be some great shots from the course and fans will be treated to golf with a true LA feel.
“I think some of the exciting parts of being in LA and Hollywood, was mentioned you’re going to see Lionel Richie’s house, you’re going to see the Playboy Mansion, chimed in NBC commentator Brad Faxon. You’re going to see so many cool varieties there, the elevation changes from the low point in the course maybe by 2 tee, 17 green all the way back up to 13, 14. These players are going to have just an incredible opportunity to see things they’ll never see in a U.S. Open setup.
NBC Sports is going to present more than 200 total hours of coverage from the Los Angeles Country Club starting today through Sunday linear coverage, our feature groups featured holes, and U.S. Open all-access coverage on Peacock, as well as Live From the U.S. Open live studio coverage on Golf Channel.
NBC alone is going to have 25 total hours of live coverage. That’s including live Thursday through Sunday night in primetime, and 10 straight hours of live coverage on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the 25 hours mark the most ever in U.S. Open history on NBC.
Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond