Course Review: Torrey Pines South

May 30, 2013

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

One Response to “Course Review: Torrey Pines South”

  1. mullidan Says:

    $240 and you have pace of play marshals??? No Thanks..

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