The LPGA returns to Los Angeles this week after a years-long absence in the City of Angels. They’re playing the inaugural Hugel-JTBC Los Angeles Open at Wilshire Country Club, which was the stomping grounds of some of the great actors of a prior generation — after decades of a not-so-welcoming posture by the club.
Back in the day, Ben Hogan played at Wilshire, and he, like the LPGA will this week, faced the blind approach shot on the ninth hole. A large mound blocks the view of the green. The caddies had their players hit toward the Hollywood sign, up in the neighborhood hills. As Thomas Bonk recounted in the Los Angeles Times in 1995, Hogan asked a more specific question when his caddie told him the aiming point.
“Which letter (on the sign)?” Hogan asked.
Wilshire doesn’t host many professional tournaments. In fact, the 1995, the Ralphs Senior Classic was the first pro tournament there since the 1944 Los Angeles Open.
The course there opened in 1920, designed by Norman Macbeth on the site of a former mid-19th century oil field. The greens are small, and the fairways are tree-lined, with a watery barranca coming into play on 13 holes. There are 30 bridges on the course, suggesting a lot of shots testing the water.
Bonk wrote that the players didn’t use the Hollywood sign much as an aiming marker in the 1990s because of air pollution and smog, but it could be in play for the field this week.