William P. Bell, Gene Thomas, Jack Neville, Tom Doak
Members and their guests
William Bell and George Thomas designed the course at the Bel Air Country Club in 1927. The fine layout tends to be overshadowed by its Tinseltown setting, and stories abound. Alfred Hitchcock lived along the course, as did Katherine Hepburn, whom Howard Hughes once surprised by bringing his plane in on a nearby fairway as she was receiving instruction. A secluded cavern on the 4th hike served as a location for one of Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan movies. Teenage Tiger Woods met Jack Nicklaus at Bel Air. The original design has been upgraded by such figures as George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones II. Overall, the course is narrow and hilly—though it can quite easily be walked—and may be a bit overwhelming for novices. The signature par 3 10th is memorable for the carry from the tee over a deep ravine that is followed by a walk over a suspension bridge. Bel-Air’s design had been altered over decades by, among others, Dick Wilson, George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Fazio. But in 2018 Tom Doak erased every bit of their work, removing phony water hazards and faithfully recapturing Thomas’s splashy signature bunkering.