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Ted Sturges

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Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« on: January 29, 2018, 04:13:52 PM »
I look at Torrey Pines and it seems like it had everything going for it to become a great golf course.  Dramatic site, great climate for golf, ocean views, windy conditions at times...  Yet (and I must admit I've only seen it on TV) I can only think of one memorable hole there (the downhill par three on the front 9 with the ocean behind it in the distance).  William Bell had a prolific career and spent time working with George Thomas, yet this course seems to fall short of its potential.  I know some renovation work was done to prepare the course for a National Open, but to me, the holes still seem to fall short of what the site offered.  If given this land as a blank canvas, couldn't someone else have done more with it?  What is the course missing?  Or is it me who is missing the mark on my assessment?


TS

Brad Tufts

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 04:25:27 PM »
To me it just looks like its been maxed out to host the Farmers for one week a year, to the damnation of the paying customer the other 51 weeks.


Sure there's always someone else who could've gotten more out of it, but I don't think it's ever been that exciting, just less so now that it's been changed only to service the US Open and the Farmers.
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Steve Lapper

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 04:27:17 PM »
I look at Torrey Pines and it seems like it had everything going for it to become a great golf course.  Dramatic site, great climate for golf, ocean views, windy conditions at times...  Yet (and I must admit I've only seen it on TV) I can only think of one memorable hole there (the downhill par three on the front 9 with the ocean behind it in the distance).  William Bell had a prolific career and spent time working with George Thomas, yet this course seems to fall short of its potential.  I know some renovation work was done to prepare the course for a National Open, but to me, the holes still seem to fall short of what the site offered.  If given this land as a blank canvas, couldn't someone else have done more with it?  What is the course missing?  Or is it me who is missing the mark on my assessment?


TS




Answer: Rees Jones
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking."--John Kenneth Galbraith

Pete Lavallee

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 04:32:20 PM »
Ted,

The courses were built by William Francis Bell, the son of William Park Bell. The father was the one who had talent and worked with George Thomas. WPB died before construction began in 1957. Although WFB built numerous golf courses here in So. Cal. none are deemed great. The sight was a former US Army base Camp Callin, which certainly removed any interesting micro undulations. Bell was also told to stay away from the canyons and the nearby State Torrey Pines Preserve in the original design. When Rees Jones did the redesign in 2001 he was given permission to move 3 green sites on the South course to the Canyon edge; that being the 3rd, 4th and 14th holes. The original layout had the old 1,2 & 3 from the North course as the first 3 holes; that's why the current South nines don't return to the Clubhouse. The 11th, 12th & 13th were built later so the North course could be built incorporating the original first 3 holes. The biggest knock on the South course is it has only 2 holes that dogleg 6 & 7, the rest are all dead straight. The only way to create something really special would have been to blow up both layouts and use the land to create one great course instead of 2 average ones.  The City didn't want to loose the revenue from 2 courses so that was a non-starter.
"...one inoculated with the virus must swing a golf-club or perish."  Robert Hunter

George Pazin

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2018, 04:38:58 PM »
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.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

Wade Whitehead

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2018, 05:15:08 PM »
It's hard to tell from television because grandstands block so much, and I haven't been there, but it looks like the golf course could be pushed closer to the ravines/cliffs/drama, no?

Of "famous" courses, Torrey Pines has always seemed like the biggest underachiever to me.

WW

Kalen Braley

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2018, 05:27:09 PM »
I've been there 3 times, walked the whole thing once (South) but never played it....couldn't justify the massive Bandonesque green fee.


Its just a long slog of a course with penal rough, and mostly penal bunkering. For the average joe its pretty punishing, with little to no relief or let up.   The course is father away from the water than it looks on TV, but given the soft soil that easily erodes, I understand why they put in some buffer...


Haven't been there since the north has been redone, looks like the green complexes are small undulations are far more interesting now....


I can't think of a course that benefits more from its location and "the pros play here" phenomena ....

Cal Seifert

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2018, 05:34:22 PM »
For courses like Torrey I often think, what would this course be without frequent PGA Tour stops?  In Torrey's case I doubt we would ever cover it. 

Kalen Braley

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2018, 05:43:26 PM »
For courses like Torrey I often think, what would this course be without frequent PGA Tour stops?  In Torrey's case I doubt we would ever cover it.


2 Renovations less than is there now....I doubt they could have afforded to do it.

Cal Seifert

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2018, 05:54:40 PM »
For courses like Torrey I often think, what would this course be without frequent PGA Tour stops?  In Torrey's case I doubt we would ever cover it.


2 Renovations less than is there now....I doubt they could have afforded to do it.


It's amazing how much praise the course gets though.  Saw one golf twitter account calling it the Augusta of the west...

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2018, 06:05:30 PM »
I love the place, had one of the best golfing days of my life there. Anyone, including me, can go put their name on the list and play. It's Bethpage Black with better weather.


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?


Please anyone tell me how the 4th at Torrey is anything but the mirror image of the 4th at Pacific Dunes.


I've got a million of em.

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2018, 06:27:52 PM »
You guys want a comparison of Tour courses. I played Harbor Town last week. An obvious GCA masterpiece both simple and complex in its execution. How about a match play. Torrey wins 6 and 5...Sorry. Or maybe you want to talk about all the courses you guys love because of ocean views. I get why people who can't play ANGC hate the place, I'll never understand why the people who refuse to play Torrey hate it.

Jordan Standefer

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2018, 06:55:57 PM »
Torrey Pines is neither overrated nor underrated.  It's right where it's supposed to be.  Does it have its GCA drawbacks compared to the very best courses in the country?  Yes it does.  It could be wider, a lot of holes are straight, the rough is very penal for the weekend golfer.  But there is a lot of good out there, too.

Pete, as usual, gives a nice context as to the time when TP was built.

Hole 2 on the South doesn't get talked about a lot, but it is an interesting 350 yard hole with a blind drive.  3 and 4 are good.  I like 6 and 7 playing around the canyon inlet.  12 is a beast and 13 is very unique.  16 is cool too, but it plays very similar to 11.

Every time I play there I get paired with an out-of-towner (or 3) and I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about the place.

It's really all relative.  I get that most on this board have been spoiled by the best of the best golf experiences, but there aren't a ton of places where you can play in shorts on Christmas Eve.

jeffwarne

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2018, 08:30:30 PM »
If there was native grass sprinkled around aesthetically placed behind bunkers (jagged edged of course)
and native grass instead of trees in many places,
shaved areas around more of the greens
and a barranca on 18
it would be praised.....


and would be far worse to play--other than the barranca on 18 :)


sure it has a dated 50's-60's look.consider it retro.
But it provides a good test for tour pros(without artificially slashing par), while allowing the average guy to get around with minimal ball loss.
unlike the awful presentation deep "native" rough at Bethpage
or TPC pondgrass


a gullty pleasure
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 08:51:05 PM by jeffwarne »
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Rob Marshall

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2018, 08:40:11 PM »
You guys want a comparison of Tour courses. I played Harbor Town last week. An obvious GCA masterpiece both simple and complex in its execution. How about a match play. Torrey wins 6 and 5...Sorry. Or maybe you want to talk about all the courses you guys love because of ocean views. I get why people who can't play ANGC hate the place, I'll never understand why the people who refuse to play Torrey hate it.


I’ve never understood the lack of respect Torrey Pines South gets here either.
If life gives you limes, make margaritas.” Jimmy Buffett

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2018, 08:50:37 PM »
I think it proves my long standing point that drone shots reveal nothing on how a course plays. Don't forget...even the OP has not played the course. Torrey is not blimp worthy.

Laz Versalles

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2018, 11:46:01 PM »

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.

Jim Nugent

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2018, 11:49:31 PM »
Ted,

The courses were built by William Francis Bell, the son of William Park Bell. The father was the one who had talent and worked with George Thomas. WPB died before construction began in 1957. Although WFB built numerous golf courses here in So. Cal. none are deemed great. The sight was a former US Army base Camp Callin, which certainly removed any interesting micro undulations. Bell was also told to stay away from the canyons and the nearby State Torrey Pines Preserve in the original design. When Rees Jones did the redesign in 2001 he was given permission to move 3 green sites on the South course to the Canyon edge; that being the 3rd, 4th and 14th holes. The original layout had the old 1,2 & 3 from the North course as the first 3 holes; that's why the current South nines don't return to the Clubhouse. The 11th, 12th & 13th were built later so the North course could be built incorporating the original first 3 holes. The biggest knock on the South course is it has only 2 holes that dogleg 6 & 7, the rest are all dead straight. The only way to create something really special would have been to blow up both layouts and use the land to create one great course instead of 2 average ones.  The City didn't want to loose the revenue from 2 courses so that was a non-starter.

Pete, not sure I understand.  Are you saying Rees changed the routing of the first 3 holes of the South course, and that before that the front nine on the South returned to the clubhouse? 

mike_beene

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2018, 12:20:07 AM »
The tree removal is much improved and maybe the views make it seem less like a slog. The course has grown on me but those straight fairways look narrow. They sure put the pool in a dangerous place. Seems like people would get hit frequently.

Jeff Schley

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2018, 12:27:27 AM »
As a golfer I really like TP and I have played the South several times and the North once (pre-reno).  It is not only a public course, but a city owned one at that. It has 36 holes of championship golf (or min. 18), hosted a US Open (which me and my dad volunteered at), a yearly PGA Tour stop, the world juniors (or at least used to), is set in great weather year round, has a great logo!

I can say I was disappointed in the conditions every time I played there however.  It gets so much play that there were dead patches, crappy bunker maintenance, some par 3's had damage from so many ball marks not being repaired, etc.

However, the layout from an architectural point of view we see water, and cliffs, and we think of the very few courses in the world that have that, which happen to be the best in the world (Pebble, Cypress, Pacific Dunes).  Why isn't Torrey as good as x, y, z?  Well it isn't so easy to capture all those elements, even if the perceived potential maybe there.  I'd love to see the course closer to the cliffs perhaps, but it isn't a deal breaker for me.  It is DAMN long, especially with any wind.  I can say proudly I birdied 12 playing from the whites (I was about a 9-10 handicap then), which was about 440 that day.  It was playing into the wind and I hit a great drive and had about 195 or so. I hit the best 4 iron of my life, low and piercing and straightest to about 2 feet. Funny how you remember the best shots of your life and bore others to death recanting them.  ;D

I can appreciate that for many years and for many more to come, anyone in the world can come here and play anytime of the year. It certainly doesn't have the water or forced carries over canyons that you may hope for in this setting. It uses pure length and wind as defense IMO.  As opposed to lamenting what it isn't and could be, I choose to love it for what it is.

But I'm just a hack golfer, not a designer/rater/pro/etc.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

RJ_Daley

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2018, 12:54:05 AM »
Ii think Jeff Schley says it well from the recreational golfer's view, and Pete, as the resident historian for S.D. explains the reasons and method of how T.P. evolved. 

I only played there pre-Jone remodel, twice, and was there to walk the course about 3/4 way through the remodel.  So, I never played holes like 4 and 12 in their newly designed US Open configuration. I just enjoy the TV when the big boys play them.   But, I think that for the competition challenge purpose they sought, the remodel was fine.  Like the two times I played, I suspect it is usually soft, which is fine given the narrow FWs.  It is relatively straight, but most of us hackers play it as if there were many doglegs...  ::)   It has the views and sense of place to never feel like a good walk spoiled.  It showcases and promotes the enjoyment of the San Diego, So Cal ambiance.  So, what's the problem?  The soil, weather and turf will never be a sea side course like is found in GB&i.  It is a seaside public like TOC, in that sense.  Go play it when you are in S.D., and enjoy it for what it is.  The county and golf management in S.D. county are never going to undertake any project to turn this course into an architectural masterpiece with the cost of what it would take and to hire an archie that 'might' be able to recreate it.  So, enjoy your Billy Bell when in S.D. and go to the old sod if you need something more pure...
No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Sean_A

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2018, 04:36:11 AM »
To me Torrey Pines is about opportunity.  If you go to the area a lot or even southern California a lot, sure, if the price is right, have a go. If I have to cross an ocean and a continent, Torrey Pines doesn't look like a place I want to spend much time.  Its the same reason why folks that travel to GB&I are often not very interested in the lesser courses. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Pete Lavallee

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2018, 09:02:26 AM »
[quote author=Pete Lavallee link=topic=65504.msg1562797#msg1562797 date=1517261540

Pete, not sure I understand.  Are you saying Rees changed the routing of the first 3 holes of the South course, and that before that the front nine on the South returned to the clubhouse?


Jim,


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 it’s original corridor. He did get permission to shift the 3 greens 3,4&14 closer to the canyon edge.


Weiskofp’s redesign of the North also plays through the same corridors except for the new 17th which was moved back to the edge of the canyon creating a nice risk reward par 5. Since the green sites all sit in areas that accommodated a severe back to front slope he tiered the new greens to fit the land. The cuppable areas are quite flat, just like the PGA Tour wants.
"...one inoculated with the virus must swing a golf-club or perish."  Robert Hunter

MCirba

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Re: Torrey Pines (what happened)?
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2018, 09:43:46 AM »
Agree entirely with RJ Daley.

I always enjoy watching the tournament (except for the 6 hour round exhibited this weekend) and having played it once pre-Rees had a nice day walking the bluffs over the ocean.   It sufficiently kicked my butt but that's ok.   It is what it is.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Steve_ Shaffer

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"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses ... "  Adlai Stevenson
Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone: "We're bigger than US Steel."
Ben Hogan “The most important shot in golf is the next one”

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