The Story Behind The Barranca With The Potential To Wreak Havoc At The 2023 U.S. Open

U.S. Open sign at Los Angeles Country Club

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Every golfer knows there are plenty of ways you can spoil an otherwise good walk over the course of a round thanks to the various hazards that litter the average golf course.

That’s especially true when you’re talking about the tracts that host the four majors that comprise the yearly golf calendar, as the average hack will never know what it’s like to have to grapple with some of the hurdles the pros will encounter during those tournaments.

Take, for example, the infamously deep bunkers at The Old Course at St. Andrews (not to mention the razor-sharp gorse), the imposing cliff plummeting down the side of the 8th hole at Pebble Beach, and the notoriously thick rough that’s typically grown out at the courses that earn the right to host the U.S. Open.

However, that’s not the only potential issue the players who descended upon Los Angeles Country Club encountered when they arrived at the exclusive course for the 123rd iteration of the U.S. Open, as it was hard to ignore the fairly unique hazard it homes in the form of the “barranca” that’s gotten plenty of attention.

That particular feature is probably familiar to anyone who’s spent enough time in California or simply tuned in to a tournament that’s been hosted that the nearby Riviera Country Club, but it may also be someone confusing for golf fans that haven’t previously encountered them in the wild.

As a result, here’s a closer look at exactly what the difficult obstacle is.

Breaking down the fearsome barranca at the U.S. Open at LACC

Seamus Power at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club in 2023

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You may not have clicked on this article expecting an etymology lesson, but you’re going to get one: “barranca” stems from the Spanish word for “ravine” but is generally used to describe shallow gorges formed by creeks that can be encountered in Southern California and areas with similar terrain.

The barranca at the North Course at LACC is a pretty diabolical hazard that has the potential to make any player who hits an errant shot have to grapple with the hybrid of a sand trap and a thick patch of rough (if there’s been rain, it can also be a water hazard, as the barranca’s primary purpose is to drain precipitation from the course).

This particular barranca initially comes into play on the second hole, but players will also need to take care to avoid it on the 4th and the 17th (although there are plenty of other instances where it can come into play if you’re not careful).

LACC treats the barranca differently depending on the exact location.

In some cases, a ball that’s hit there is considered out of bounds and will require anyone who ended up there to take a penalty stroke. However, if there’s no red marker nearby, players are allowed to take their chances (they can also declare an unplayable lie if needed, although the nature of that particular aspect of nature means the free drop won’t necessarily improve things that much).

At the end of the day, the best way to deal with the barranca is to avoid it entirely—but thanks to the brutal nature of the course, that’s much, much easier said than done.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.