What Is The Barranca At Los Angeles Country Club?

The word barranca is set to become part of golf fans' lexicon at this year's US Open

 Scottie Scheffler of the United States and Max Homa of the United States walk down the seventh holeduring the first round of the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles Country Club
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Among the many intriguing things about Los Angeles Country Club, host venue for this year's US Open, is the barranca that was restored to its former glory during Gil Hanse's renovation.

Hanse, Jim Wagner and Geoff Shackleford were tasked with bringing George Thomas' 1928 creation back to life after the passage of time had softened some of its features.

That included the barranca that is common in this part of North California, but what exactly is barranca and what role will it play this week? Put simply, a barranca is a deep gully or ravine with steep sides. At LACC, it features prominently and could have a big bearing on who comes out on top come Sunday evening.

The North Course barranca is filled with different types of grasses, native sand and bushes, making it look like wasteland. It first comes into play on the long par-4 second, guarding the front of the green and putting a premium on finding the fairway. 

It returns on the third, awaiting any rogue tee shots that drift left and don't make the 280-yard carry. As for the rest of the front nine, it is in play on the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth.

Collin Morikawa described the challenge it posed during a practice round when he played the short par-4 sixth that draws parallels with Riviera's famous 10th.

"We hit two irons off the tee and I hit one in the rough, and I was never going to hit the green from the rough," Morikawa said. "But whatever they call it, the barranca down below, below where the bunker is down there, it is very bad. 

"You can get a very bad lie, but you can also get a lie that's all right to where you can hack it out to the middle of the green."

Perhaps its most spectacular appearance comes on the par-5 eighth. The fairway slopes steeply from left to right, steering balls towards the barranca off the tee, before it bisects the hole and comes back into play up the left-hand side approaching the green.

It's less of a factor on the back nine, but you might still see some of the game's best playing out of it up the right of 17. Hanse, Wagner and Shackleford have done a superb job of making it both strategically challenging and visually stunning. 

The barranca that winds through the course also has a practical purpose. It provides effective drainage, as it can be shaped to encourage water to flow into it and to follow a certain path through it, given the lack of rainfall in the LA area.

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x