Bel-Air Country Club At A Glance
Yardage: 6,491 yards
Par: 36-34 - 70
Defending champion: Kemp Richardson
Designers: William P.Bell and George Thomas
Designer Notes: Thomas is responsible for two other outstanding courses in the Los Angeles area - Riviera Country Club and The Los Angeles Country Club.
Previous Championships: This will be the second USGA event held at Bel-Air, following the 1976 U.S. Amateur won by Bill Sander.
Happy Birthday: This year is the 50th anniversary for the Senior Amateur. J. Wood Platt won the inaugural event in 1955. It also is the 80th anniversary for Bel-Air Country Club, although the golf course did not officially open until 1927.
Short Trip: Kemp Richardson won't have far to travel to defend his title. He can jump on the 405 Freeway and head north some 50 miles from his south Orange County home to Bel-Air.
Will He Caddie?: Greg Puga, the 2000 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, works at Bel-Air C.C. as a caddie and has "looped" for many celebrities. No word if he plans to tote a bag for the Senior Amateur.
'The Little Pro': For nearly 40 years, Eddie Merrins was Bel-Air's head pro. He also coached at UCLA where some of his stars included 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, 1985 Walker Cupper Duffy Waldorf and Ryder Cupper Steve Pate.
Home Of Stars: The Bel-Air club registry reads like a Who's Who of the entertainment industry. Its membership includes actors Jack Wagner, Jack Nicholson, James Woods and Chris O'Donnell, along with sports broadcasters Vin Scully and Al Michaels.
Dropping In: According to published reports, Howard Hughes once landed his airplane on one of Bel-Air's fairways to impress Kathrine Hepburn, who lived off the 14th fairway. Hepburn was taking lessons from one of the pros at the time. Hughes emerged from the aircraft with his clubs and joined the twosome. Club executives were so furious that Hughes resigned his membership the following day and never returned to the club.
Lights, Cameras, Action: A hidden cave in the rock outcropping above the fourth hole served as the set for Johnny Weismuller in a "Tarzan" movie.
Bridging the gap: One of Bel-Air's most-identifiable landmarks - besides former pro Eddie Merrins - is the overhanging bridge at the 10th hole. It ranks up there with the bunker that sits in the middle of the par-3 sixth hole at nearby Riviera.
On your honor: Bel-Air's honorary membership includes Arnold Palmer, Amy Alcott, Byron Nelson, Greg Norman and Ken Venturi. It's also the place where Jack Nicklaus first met a precocious 15-year-old boy by the name of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods. Back then, Woods was able to reach the 577-yard 14th hole with a driver and 3-iron.
Quote/Unquote: "It's a place where people gather to enjoy the game in a beautiful setting. I think there's hardly a lovelier place anywhere." - Eddie Merrins, former head pro