Expert's Insight: No. 10 at Riviera CC
PGA TOUR player Zac Blair offers his architectural expertise on one of the TOUR's most exciting holes
February 13, 2017
By Zac Blair, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- Riviera's 10th hole offers one of the better risk-reward scenarios on TOUR. (Jon Cavalier/@LinksGems)
PGA TOUR player Zac Blair is a golf course architecture aficionado with plans on building his own golf course, The Buck Club, in his native Utah. Blair is offering his architecture expertise to PGATOUR.COM to give fans an expert’s insight on some of the unique holes on the PGA TOUR. You can follow Zac on twitter at @z_blair and follow The Buck Club at @thebuckclub.
Often described as the "best short par 4 in the world" the 10th hole at Riviera Country Club certainly lives up to its reputation. At only 315 yards, architect George Thomas gives the player a variety of options off the tee when deciding which way to play this diabolical drive-and-pitch hole.
There are few golf course architects who stressed the importance of strategy more than Thomas. He mastered the art of allowing players to take on hazards in hopes of gaining an advantage, and those who do so successfully are rewarded with better angles into the green or shorter approaches.
But, like so many of the great Golden Age architects of the early 1900s, he always allows a less-skilled player a safe route to the hole. Thomas was fantastic at creating diversity throughout his golf courses.
The 10th is a perfect example of one of Thomas’ unique holes. The short par 4 provides players plenty of options and can be quite a challenge in spite of its lack of length.
A CLOSER LOOK
From a slightly elevated tee, the player faces a number of options, including line and club selection, which can range from a mid-iron to driver. A player can choose to lay up with a mid-iron just short of the cross bunkers. This is the least risky tee shot, but leaves a difficult short-iron approach to an angled green that slopes dramatically right-to-left.
Because of the angle at which the green sits, and the deep bunker that guards the front-right of the green, many players decide to play left of the cross bunkers with a long-iron or hybrid. This leaves an approach of approximately 60 to 100 yards and the best angle into the green.
Players who "take the bait" can go for the gusto and rip driver at the green in hopes of keeping the ball on the impossibly small flat area of the putting surface. Chances are the ball will trickle off the left side of the green and into the collection area, which can provide a somewhat tricky chip shot, depending on the hole location.
No matter which option a player takes off the tee, the approach shot into the 10th green is without a doubt one of the trickiest approach shots on TOUR. You're praying you have a comfortable yardage that will allow you to attack the pin. The green sits at a 45-degree angle and canters from right-to-left, funneling ball after ball into the back-left bunker or into the short left collection area.The front-to-back slope on Riviera's 10th green can send balls into the bunker behind the green. (Jon Cavalier/@LinksGems)
Here's a closer look at the stats from the 10th hole during the 2016 Genesis Open.
SCORE ROUND 1 ROUND 2 ROUND 3 ROUND 4 CUMULATIVE Eagle 0 1 2 0 3 Birdie 38 39 34 10 121 Par 83 75 37 50 245 Bogey 22 23 4 12 61 Double Bogey 1 5 0 3 9 Other 0 0 0 1 1
Eagles and double-bogeys are both very much in play at No. 10. This is what makes it such a good hole. It really tests a player’s nerves and decision-making during every shot.
If you’re comfortable with your wedges and really have your yardages dialed in, the safest bet on No. 10 is to lay up left and wedge on to the correct portion of the green. This is easier said than done. The amount of slope on the green can't be seen on TV and, with the green speeds upward of 11 on the Stimpmeter, any leftward momentum carries balls into the back bunkers.
But if you’re like a lot of players (myself included), you can easily be tempted into ripping driver between the bunkers in hopes of making an eagle or an easy birdie.
I also like how this hole doesn't favor any one particular type of player. If you hit one bad shot -- whether it's attempting to drive the green, or a poor approach into the green -- your chances of making par are slim to none.
The angles that have to be thought about on this hole are something most people don't fully understand.
If your tee ball is not placed down the far left hand side of the hole, your angle into the green forces you to play towards the middle of the putting surface. This green is extremely shallow, and tilted from right-to-left, so it makes it almost impossible to attack the back hole locations (even for the best players on the planet) if the lay-up is hit anywhere right of center.
Thomas’ creativity makes it easy to remember each and every hole at his masterpieces, which include three of Los Angeles’ top courses: Los Angeles Country, Bel Air Country Club and Riviera, as well as Whitemarsh Valley in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. The 10th hole is just one example of his genius, and still challenges TOUR players today.A view from the fairway on Riviera's 10th hole. (Jon Cavalier/@LinksGems)