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The third major of the year is upon us and golf’s bombshell merger news can finally be put to one side – at least for four days.

Amidst the backdrop of an extraordinary and ambiguous merger between the sport’s warring factions, the game’s real stars will battle it out for the US Open title this weekend in Los Angeles.

Here’s eight unusual facts you should know about the 123rd US Open…

The complete unknown

Seldom do we come to a major championship venue with such little information about what it has to offer. But the ultra-exclusive Los Angeles Country Club is hosting one of the big four for the first time this week, and in doing so, effectively opening its curtains to the golfing world. The North Course, set up traditionally tough by the USGA, is hosting its first professional event since the LA Open in 1940. Only those who played at the Walker Cup in 2017 and the Pac-12 event in 2013 can have true recollection of competitive golf there.

The most coveted land in the United States?

It is, of course, fitting that a tournament taking place at the height of golfing melodrama is being staged just below Hollywood. LACC is situated between the home of film and Beverly Hills, just a short drive from the iconic Sunset Strip. The course has been described as a natural oasis in the heart of a famous urban environment, so it is no surprise the joining fees are reportedly up to $300,000. But Forbes listing LACC as the second richest piece of real estate in America is certainly eyebrow raising. Only Central Park is more valuable land that has not been used for a housing development in the US.

Hugh Hefner was rejected  

The strict members policy at LACC gives a true idea of just how exclusive this venue really is. A-listers are as good as laughed off the property, with no film stars remotely considered for a locker room inside the private clubhouse. The same was true for the late Hugh Hefner, the famous ‘Playboy’ creator, despite the fact his Playboy Mansion is situated by the 13th hole.

Listen out for the monkeys 

Hefner built a garden zoo outside his infamous Playboy pad before his death in 2017 and – incredibly – animals still residing there could prove distracting for players close to the 14th tee this week. The zoo was kept by the new owner, Daren Metropoulos, and players have reported hearing noises from the monkeys, peacocks and parrots during their practice rounds.

Max Homa could have shot 59

California native Homa is the hometown hero this week and is one of very few players with fond memories of the course he can turn to. It is woven into the US Open’s identity that this is a week for grinding out pars and taking infrequent chances, not shooting the lights out of a course and surging clear. But that is exactly what Homa did at the prestigious Pac-12 tournament, firing a sensational round of 61, a course record to this day.

“I remember not getting up-and-down from the front bunker on 6 for birdie, and I remember three-putting 8, so I could have shot 59, so that bothers me,” Homa said on Tuesday. Despite Homa hoping for “carnage” this week, it would be impressive if a player even gets within four shots of that magical score a decade ago as the USGA tightens things up.

Par-3 haven 

This is the first time since 1947 that the US Open will feature five par-3s. The ‘short holes’ range from the 124-yard 15th to the brutal 290-yard 11th. The 7th is set to play 284 yards, so get ready to see even some of the biggest hitters pull out fairway woods on two monstrous par-3s where pars will be celebrated like birdies.

Lay up short on an 80 yard hole?

The US Open might be mistaken for crazy golf this week when players reach the 15th. The USGA have the option to move the tee up so the hole plays 78 yards. And in that scenario, Rickie Fowler has astonishingly claimed he could choose to purposely miss the green short to avoid the danger. Fowler is concerned about being plugged in a bunker long and feels landing short could be the safe play at such a short yardage. Only a flick of a lob wedge will be required, but this shot promises to be more entertaining than watching players crushing 3-woods into a near-300 yard hole.

Bermuda grass 

It would not be US Open week without the cringeworthy clips of balls being dropped and lost in the rough. But there is understandable intrigue in the punishment of missing the fairways and greens this week as Bermuda grass makes its return to America’s national championship for the first time since Pinehurst in 2005. Acclaimed architect Gil Hanse set about restoring the immaculate George Thomas design to finally make LACC a major venue, and the Bermuda grass seemed the ideal greenery given the soaring temperatures in the City of Angles. The cloud cover over the course in recent months has meant the Bermuda has not grown to its anticipated level, but the USGA have more than enough protection across the 7,421 yard layout to compensate.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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