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Geoff Shackelford says a lot here:http://www.geoffshackelford.com/homepage/2018/1/29/options-for-the-12-million-to-be-spent-on-torrey-pines-south.html
For a golf course that is panned because it isn't close enough to the dramatic cliffs, there sure are a lot of Tour Pro shots that find them.
The original course built in 1957 used the first 3 holes of what was the front nine of the North; a short par 5 followed by a short par 4, followed by a really short par 3. What is now the 7th was the original 9th and finished near the clubhouse. Billy Bell Jr then noticed that if three holes were built on the south end of the course, adjacent to the Gliderport, a full 18 could be built to the north incorporating the original 3 holes. This really transformed the layout into a bombers paradise as the three holes they lost were all very short. The 3 new holes they built are brutes with the long par 3 11th and really long par 4 12th both into the wind and the par 5 13th with its big dip just before the green. Rees only redid the greens and every hole plays through itís original corridor. He did get permission to shift the 3 greens 3,4&14 closer to the canyon edge.
TPS looks to me like the type of course Tom D was thinking of when he developed his scale. For those of us who don't have the privilege of playing the world's best, I would guess a round there would be beyond special. I haven't had the pleasure (yet, will someday...), but it looks gorgeous from the player views (on TV), but it lacks the ephemeral quality many on here seek.I doubt most would understand the difference between TPS and Pebble or Pac Dunes. I doubt I would. But others would. And that's ok. People who post on here should be a bit embarrassed by their own riches. But if they're not, that's ok, too.
I would say that the 12th is one of the best long par 4's in the world. Of course I didn't know it was a par four until I was standing on 13 tee and asked my playing partners if there were two par 5's in a row. I thought I killed it on 12 hitting drive, 5 wood, 7 iron and just missing my putt for "birdie". I once saw Tiger in his prime hit Driver, 4 iron...What's that, 580 human yards? The par 5 13th plays shorter with a strong wind off the Ocean. 1-2 at Riviera anyone?
I have played the TPS a few times. It is not my favorite place. It does not crack my Top 200. The last time I played there, we were joined by a Golfweek panelist. Later in the round, he was walking and talking on his cell phone. I overheard him saying that TPS was the best course he had ever played. I was stunned.
the Torrey Pine tree only grows here and at one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara.
BRoss,The City of SD has zero interest in redesigning either course to increase fun or architectural interest. They spent $2MM in 2001 to have Rees redo the South in order to attract a US Open; mission accomplished. He waived his design fee but used his construction Company to do the work. They did give him permission to move 3, 4 & 14 closer to the canyon. I can't think of any other missed opportunities to locate a green closer to the canyon edge. They just spent $12MM for Weiskopf to redo the North. They gave him permission to move the green on the old 8th now the 17th to the canyon edge.Take a close look at the picture of the 4th on the fried egg website. The slope on the left side of the 4th is way to steep to support a reasonable fairway lie; I know I've been there in the rough and the ball is between your waist and knees!
Letís look at the Pros and Cons of Torrey Pines South:Pros:There is a tremendous sense of place. Letís face it the Torrey Pine tree only grows here and at one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. The needles of the tree point down to the ground in order for and dew to collect on the needles and then drip onto the ground nourishing the tree; pretty clever! The views of the ocean on every hole are breathtaking.The golf course has the length to challenge the modern game with only three long walks to the back tee back, 2, 9 & 15. Although the white tees are a bit much for the average golfer at 6,600 yards the green tees at 6,000 yards bring the architecture into play for the average golfer. Their Menís Club actually plays from there.The excessive green fees ($257 during the week and $305 on weekends) for out of towners has created a huge pot of money in the Cityís Golf Enterprise Fund; all of which goes back to the Cityís four golf courses; South, North, Balboa Park and Mission Bay. Conditioning finally justifies the price out of towners pay, a big plus for residents who pay $63 during the week and $78 on weekends.The rough which is grown to 3Ē for the Farmers is kept at 1Ē for the rest of the year. Balls are easy to find and can be advanced with relative ease; not so during the Tournament window when the 3Ē rough is brutal!Since all that was done in the redesign was changing the greens there was a dead zone of dirt between them and the fairway. They went the easy route and hydro seeded the approaches with rye grass. This coupled with the open fronts of every green there allow golfers to bounce or run the ball up to each and every green; not that I ever witnessed someone successfully employing this technique.The Cons:The Reesdesign simply made the greens ultra hard. Every green is trisected with ridges leaving three less than 2% sloped pinnable areas. The greenside bunkers all sit well below the surface and play to a distinct down slope just over the lip; a big complaint of Phil. Donít short side yourself in the bunkers or youíll have a long day!There is just enough room for 18 holes, so most holes are dead straight as they run parallel around the canyons. Only the 6th and 7th holes actually dogleg.Billy Bell Jr. was told to stay away from the canyon edges, with good reason. They are steep and the bluffs curl over the edge rather than having the sharp drop off like Pebble Beach or Cypress Point. The 4th hole is a perfect example; no one would play to the left hand side of the fairway as the slope leaves the ball so far above your feet that it renders a very difficult shot. When the new irrigation system was put in the trenching revealed that the site is red clay capped with 6Ē of top soil. Any fairway grading would involve scrapping the top soil and then carefully replacing it. The Cityís mandate of paying ďFair Union WageĒ eliminates using local Hispanic labor and effectively doubles the price of any construction.The City maintains the Tournament mowing lines year round: 25 yards. In fact some holes on the north were less than 20 yards wide and the Tour insisted the City widen them; a result of Tiger unable to reach any of the par 5ís in 2 just after his Open victory. This pretty much renders strategy off the tee moot as most golfers are just trying to hit the fairway; if you are good enough to decide which side of a 25 yard wide strip youíre going to hit, my hat is off to you!There is only one short par 4: the 2cnd, which is a good hole but not really suited to the current trend of driveable par 4ís as there is a severe dip in front of the green. Changing the 14th to a driveable par 4 from the Ladies tees during the Open was a weak attempt; even Tiger didnít take the bait.
I'm trying to think of another city that has dedicated beautiful coastal land to 36 holes of public golf. Can't think of a single one. I sometimes watch golf on TV and think 'this course could be better' but perhaps because Torrey sits on the ocean people are so charged up about how great it could be. Check it out on a non-tour weekend and see players of all ages enjoying the courses. Pretty special.