When you think of Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course, what is the first image that comes to mind?  The 2008 US Open. Tiger Woods vs. Rocco Mediate.  The 18-hole playoff wasn’t enough.  Golf played at one of the highest levels in any tournament was on display.  In the end, Tiger won his 14th (and, still, his most recent) major.  Nearly five years later, I found myself in San Diego for the first time in my life.  I couldn’t pass it up. After playing two other local courses in the days prior, I was ready for Torrey.

To start, Torrey South is a beautiful track and an icon of US Open history since the Tiger/Rocco duel. For anyone who makes it to the San Diego area, it’s definitely on the “to do” list–assuming you can stomach the nonresident greens fee. The course proved to be worth the money for a one-time play, although I’d have to find a way to play for less money the next time I go. Regardless of what you pay, the views are tremendous:

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San Diego area courses in general seem to be relatively short as compared to most Atlanta area courses.  Torrey South, at just over 7,050 yards from the non-tournament tips, is one of the longest tracks in the area.  Even at that, the course did not feel particularly long.  Several holes did feel long, but I did not feel like there were many long approaches in general.  Most par 3 and par 4 holes had 6-iron or less into the green, and most par 5s were at least nominally reachable in two.  For example, for the 18th hole, I had an 8-iron into the green to reach in two.  Not exactly stupendously long.

When I played Torrey South (at the end of February), the course had recently hosted the Farmer’s Open, a PGA Tour event won by–guess who–Tiger Woods. As such, the conditions were about as good as I would expect them to be. Greens were probably rolling at 11 on the Stimpmeter, and the fairways were lush and green–although I didn’t hit one all day (0/14 fairways in regulation). Although the pros often complain about the Poa green surface, I did not notice any substantial disturbance (although I was playing very early in the morning, so the Poa may not have budded yet). At least as compared to almost every bermuda green I’ve played, Torrey was exceptional.

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Playing Torrey South confirmed one of my general suspicions about PGA Tour courses–namely, you can hit the ball basically anywhere and survive. With 0/14 fairways, I still managed a 77 with 9 GIR. The dearth of trees on the course makes it very playable for a long hitter. Although I did not play the US Open tees (I decided to go easy the first trip), I found the course very playable and had a number of close birdie putts even with my failings off the tee. Perhaps it’s just that I’m used to playing bermuda rough in Georgia, so the fescue rough at Torrey was just no big deal.

Generally, I didn’t hit any fairways because they are difficult to hit.  They are not particularly wide and are typically sloped to kick the ball off the fairway if it does not have the proper flight.  Greens are fairly large but are very undulating, and being on the wrong side of the hole can lead to some poor putting/chipping statistics. It has always amazed me how undulating greens are on the Tour stop courses that I’ve played (East Lake, Pebble Beach, Torrey, even Glen Abbey). However, the course is right in front of you, and if you miscue a shot, you can’t blame the course for it.

What surprised me to some degree was the forgetability of many of the holes.  Although the course is absolutely stunningly beautiful, it isn’t as if each hole has a particular character that must be dealt with.  Sure, there are some–3 and 18 most notably–but many of the par 4s are reruns, slight doglegs, 4XX yards, fairway wood – short iron type holes.  Of those holes, I don’t remember each one.  Having played Tour-caliber courses on several occasions, I can say that most if not all of the holes of each Tour stop that I’ve played have been remarkable golf holes.

A benefit of playing Torrey is that it is one of the few places in San Diego that polices the pace of play.  Want to play a 5+ hour round on a Saturday morning?  Play somewhere else (anywhere else in San Diego, really).  Even though we were on pace, marshals complained to us about the group ahead of us and even hassled us at one point.

Altogether, Torrey South was a great golf experience.  Having seen the Farmer’s Open and walked the North course a few weeks earlier, I can confidently say that the North course is no slouch, and may be every bit as good as the South, although lacking in history.  However, $240 to WALK the South Course on a Saturday morning at 6:30 AM is hard to swallow, especially knowing the locals are paying $75.  It might be worth it to hit the North course to get the same great experience at a lower price.  Halfway house food was expensive too.  That doesn’t get cheaper for locals.

Overall, I had a great time and am glad I got to play Torrey South, as courses with that much history are few and far between.  However, I am interested to play the North course and see how it stacks up–it may turn out to be a cheaper alternative simply for its name. The course was well maintained, but probably not to the level of a $240 course. For two Franklins and two Jacksons, I expect a course to be pretty near perfect. All in all, I’m very glad I went.

Price: 3
Value: 5
Conditions: 9
Greens: 10
Playability: 8
Views: 9
Staff/Service: 7
Overall: 8

Torrey South Scorecard

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Fail of the Week 12

May 15, 2013

Last week, we derided Jim Nantz for his contribution to Tiger Woods’s 4-shot penalty at Augusta…and justifiably so (see https://thepowerfade.com/2013/05/06/fail-of-the-week-11/). Jim Nantz was being a punk, plain and simple.

Buuuuut, I think the vitreal may have been a bit overstated given the events of this week. It seems we may have jumped the gun a little on this one…

Tiger Woods played a beautiful four rounds of golf last weekend to capture his second Players Championship, a tournament that, oddly, he has not seen as much success with as other large-but-not-a-major tournaments (Bay Hill, Memorial, Firestone, WGC, etc.). But Tiger again was thrust in the middle of controversy.

On Saturday, Tiger Woods was paired with Sergio Garcia, the then-leader of the tournament. Early in the round, Garcia hit a poor shot that led to a bogey. He blamed Tiger. Sergio stated that “[r]ight as I was on top of the backswing, he pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out of the rough and, obviously, everybody started screaming, so that didn’t help very much.” Sergio contended that Tiger’s action led to a poor shot. Tiger responded that a marshal had told him that Sergio had already hit and, otherwise, he would not have pulled a club. Oddly enough, the marshals all said that they didn’t say anything to Tiger, and that he didn’t ask (see http://aol.sportingnews.com/sport/story/2013-05-14/tiger-woods-sergio-garcia-tpc-sawgrass-third-round-shot-marshal-controversy). Controversy.

While all this was swirling, some other spectators were pointing to Tiger taking an illegal drop on the 14th hole (you may remember that an illegal drop was the issue at the Masters as well…). And it was unquestionably clear, Tiger’s ball never crossed the hazard where he dropped (see http://www.sbnation.com/golf/2013/5/13/4326394/tiger-woods-players-championship-2013-illegal-ball-drop).

Those who frequent our blog know–we are pretty big Tiger fans. But even this we can’t defend. Tiger has been no stranger to controversy since his sex scandal. The world was starting to put that behind them–winning helps. The drop events of the Masters put him back in the controversy limelight again, and the opinions of what should have happened largely fell on whether people liked him or disliked him and were as polarized at Tea Party Patriots vs. Politico.

If he had half a brain, though, he would’ve steered clear of these types of things. I’ve played in multiple USGA and state golf association competitions and I would never in a million years consider pulling a club out of my golf bag without personally checking the status of my playing competitor. Yes, mistakes happen. And, yes, Sergio is a pretty annoying whiner. But in a pro event with thousands of spectators around, don’t you think Tiger would’ve at least heard the crowd clap if Sergio had hit his shot? If it had been someone we like who complained–Matt Kuchar, for example, or Fred Couples–what would you think of it? And, more egregiously, Tiger, you just were in the middle of a major-championship controversy over an illegal drop–and now you’re in another illegal drop controversy? Come on Tiger!

We want to see Tiger win as much as any Tiger fan, but this is not the way to do it. Be #1 in the world by being #1, not by taking advantages you don’t deserve.

For that, Tiger, you are this week’s FAIL.

Also, FAIL to NBC for showing a million close-ups of Lindsay Vonn. She is not anywhere near as hot as Elin, and, frankly, they’re just dating, so it’s really not even worth zooming in on her anyway since he’s probably going to dump her in a few months.

Fail of the Week 11

May 6, 2013

A few weeks later, the dust settles, and we find out the truth; the news is out on who outed Tiger Woods. We all assumed it was a random TV viewer call-in; those despised “I’m going to get you, professional athlete, while sitting on my couch” people are shamful, we all thought; so many people discussing “I don’t like the idea that golf entertains this type of thing!”

Well, that wasn’t the REAL story.

As reported by DeadSpin (http://deadspin.com/punk-ass-snitches-who-ratted-out-tiger-woods-identified-486213426), a Senoir PGA Tour player and none other than Jim Nantz combined to alter the outcome of golf’s greatest tournament, ruining the fun of watching for all of us.

As a recap, those who may or may not know the story, on the Friday round at Augusta National Golf Club for the 2013 Masters, Tiger Woods struck the pin with his approach to the 15th hole. The ball ricocheted back into the water in front of the green–a terribly unfortunate result. What happened next was just strange. Tiger reviewed his options for places to drop and elected to re-play from the original spot. He dropped his ball, hit a shot within putting distance of the pin, and went on to make the putt.

Rule 26-1 governs the ability of a player to take a drop. Tiger’s election was under Rule 26-1(a):

26-1. Relief For Ball In Water Hazard

It is a question of fact whether a ball that has not been found after having been struck toward a water hazard is in the hazard. In the absence of knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball struck toward a water hazard, but not found, is in the hazard, the player must proceed under Rule 27-1.

If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or

c. As additional options available only if the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard, drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.

When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

Shortly after, the Masters Tournament Rules Committee took a call that indicated that Tiger Woods had not dropped “as nearly as possible” because his ball was a few yards behind his original spot. The Rule Committee reviewed tape, decided not to talk to Tiger about his drop, and allowed him to sign his scorecard. Tiger Woods took a post-round interview from CBS in which he discussed the whole (as it had quite a negative affect on his round) and described how he dropped “a few yards back” because his first shot was a little too long. The Rules Committee was then again notified about Tiger, but this time it was that his post-round comments may have indicated he was not in compliance with the rule because dropping “a few yards back” is not “as nearly as possible.”

Tiger was not disqualified but was given an additional two-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. The Rules Committee decided not to disqualify Tiger–which would have been likely in different circumstances–because they had made a ruling on the situation and allowed him to sign a wrong scorecard. Tiger finished 4 shots off the lead of Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, who went to playoff with Scott winning.

Although it seemed odd at first not to disqualify Tiger, the Rules Committee’s explanation of it as “we made a ruling and Tiger was entitled to the benefit of that Ruling” seemed to make sense. The PF has no quibble with that. It seemed like the Rules Committee got that right. Although many called for Tiger’s disqualification or withdrawal because he was getting “special treatment,” no one seemed to acknowledge that the only reason this was an issue was because cameras were on him. If you think other players were not violating this rule, you are crazy.

Moreover, it’s not exactly sure what “as nearly as possible” means. Does a player have to drop in his own divot? If so, why would anyone ever choose that option? Surely, that cannot be what is required. How close is “close enough?”

Alas, we digress. This FAIL is reserved for none other than Jim Nantz.

Jim?! For Real?!?!? What were you thinking?

Look, you get to go to this tournament every year, experience some of the finest accommodations anyone could imagine, and be a part of everyone’s memories of this amazing tournament. WTF are you thinking sticking your nose in the middle of the tournament?

Broadcasters have no business interfering with the tournament any more than couch potatoes do. You are not a pro golfer. You are not a competitor. You are a side show to what is going on out there. If we wanted to watch you referee a game of golf…well, no one would ever want that.

Look, First, we’re sick of you getting googly-eyed over Tom Brady. He’s a good quarterback. No one needs to you emphasize that for them. Next, stay where you’re put and don’t interfere with the event you’re broadcasting. You basically killed your own broadcast by taking the most popular player in the tournament completely out of the competition. If Tiger is one down coming to 18, do you not think everyone on earth is watching, hoping he’ll make a birdie? If he didn’t have to shoot 65 to tie the lead, do you think things would have come out differently–or maybe just been a little more exciting for all of us?

Jim, this week, you’re the FAIL.