Why There Needs To Be Changes Ahead Of The Next LACC US Open

With a subdued atmosphere and mixed reactions to the course from players, this year's US Open isn't quite hitting the mark

Fans sit on grass watching the US Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 123rd US Open was highly anticipated. It's taking place over one of America's greatest layouts in one of the country's greatest cities.

Los Angeles Country Club is one of the USA's most exclusive clubs and this year's US Open was a chance for us all to get a rare peep in behind the doors and check the place out.

LACC's North Course is a stunning layout with plenty of memorable holes, from the terrific set of par 3s to the unique drivable 6th and the distinctive barranca running through the property. But sadly this US Open isn't quite delivering despite a leaderboard that boasts two of golf's fan favorites, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, contesting for the iconic trophy.

The week has already been record breaking, with the only two 62s shot in this great old championship coming within 20 minutes of each other on Thursday morning. Except that's not really a great thing.

Scoring has been controversial this week as record after record has been either broken or matched. The US Open is supposed to be golf's toughest test but LACC was somewhat of a birdie fest over the first two days, with Rickie Fowler birdieing 18 of the first 36 holes.

Fans are used to brutally difficult US Open tests and we've seen some excellent ones in recent years. Shinnecock Hills in 2018 was a controversial week with the course setup, with some believing it went too far, but it made for a thrilling spectacle where Brooks Koepka prevailed at one-over-par. Justin Rose also won the brilliant 2013 US Open at Merion on the same one-over-par total.

The last three years have all seen winning scores of six-under, with last year's event at Brookline standing out as one of the best in recent times.

And while the scoring hasn't been ideal for fans who love the pros to suffer or the USGA who will have been seeing plenty of those fans' comments online, it's not the scoring that is the reason why there should be some changes before next time LACC hosts in 2039.

It's the atmopshere.

Compared to last year's jam-packed US Open in the sports-loving city of Boston at The Country Club, this year's championship has been somewhat of a damp squib.

Crowd numbers have been fairly low - a reported maximum of 30,000 per day with many of them believed to be corporate or members' guests. The layout also ensures that they're also quite far away from the action.

The 13th and 14th holes in the corner of the property in particular seem very sparse, which makes for an odd look considering that's really where the thick of the championship begins to be decided come the final day.

Fans seen at the US Open

There is said to be up to 30,000 spectators on-site each day but that isn't translating into a great atmosphere on TV

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This has resulted in a quiet atmosphere that certainly isn't translating into a great TV product when you compare it to a Masters or an east coast Major.

LA's own Collin Morikawa doesn't quite agree, though.

"It's great. Being out in LA, being home, seeing a lot of friends, family, it's always great," he said. "Having a Major championship out here, the energy is just amazing. Even though the fans aren't really close, it's awesome to be out here in LA."

Matt Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, reportedly had much stronger feelings with his friend and Barstool Sports journalist Dan Rapaport saying he described the atmosphere as "very poor".

The second reason why the USGA might need to change things up at LACC is because of the course - but not due to the scoring.

The players' feelings on it is very mixed, and that was starting to become evident on Saturday evening when nearly every post-round interview featured questions on what the player thought of the North Course.

Brooks Koepka said he wasn't a fan after the second round. Matt Fitzpatrick called it a "little bit unfair". Bryson DeChambeau said it's "a completely different test of golf than a normal US Open" and Viktor Hovland said "I'm not a big fan of this golf course, to be honest."

Hovland continued: "I think there's some good holes. I don't think there's any great holes. I think there's a few bad holes. I think No. 9 is probably the best hole out here in my opinion."

Hardly glowing endorsement.

The west coast location means that fans on the east coast of the US have to stay up later than usual, and Europeans have to stay up until around 4am until the final putt drops. They'll do that for a Pebble Beach or an atmosphere that is gripping.

This year's US Open isn't quite that.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV