Barranca! What does that word mean, and why is it used so often at Riviera Country Club?
PGA Tour

Barranca! What does that word mean, and why is it used so often at Riviera Country Club?


During the Genesis Invitational, and really during any tournament played at Riviera Country Club, you're going to hear the word "barranca" a lot. If you made a drinking game of it, you'd have a tough time making it to work on Monday.

However, if you're not from California, or event the Pacific time zone, you're probably not familiar with the term "barranca" and what exactly it means.

The dictionary definition of a "barranca" is "a deep gully or arroyo with steep sides." Basically, it's a deep hole that's hard to get out of, once you're in it. These are places you don't want your golf ball to be at Riviera Country Club. The barranca comes into play at a number of places at Riviera Country Club, including most prominently on the par-4 13th.

On the 13th hole, the barranca, if the trees on the left between it and the fairway were cut down, could make the the hole play like a Cape-style hole, allowing a player to bite off as much as they can chew while risking disaster by going in the barranca, which is effectively a hazard. The barranca protects the dogleg-left hole from being ripped off too aggressively.

The second shot on the eighth hole requires a carry over a barranca if a player chooses to go down the right side of the split fairway, and the par-5 11th also has a barranca in play that forces a player to choose whether they want to lay up or go for the green in two shots.

George C. Thomas masterfully used the barranca where possible to create decision points and force strategic choices. And it's a lot more fun to say barranca than canyon or hole or ditch.

While the barranca doesn't come into play as often with modern equipment for the best players in the world, it's still an important visual component and intimidating factor in guidiing how the best in the world take on Riviera.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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