Five things to know: Torrey Pines
3. REDEFINE THE ‘DRIVER’
The term “driver” once meant something completely different in Torrey Pines.
After Camp Callan, the land was redeveloped to build a grand prix racetrack, hosting motor racing competitions that included some of the biggest names in driving. Among them was Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon in the movie “Ford v Ferrari”. The last race took place in 1956.
4. A FATHER-SON TEAM
Torrey Pines was designed by a father-son team named “California’s First Golf Course Design Family”.
William P. Bell, born in 1886 and apprenticed under Willie Watson and George C. Thomas, Jr., was a turf consultant for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, and soon after was joined by his son William F Bell in the family golf course design business.
A special municipal election in 1956 led to the designation of approximately 100 acres of the old Camp Callan for the creation of a golf course. William P. had the original vision for Torrey Pines, but he was dead when Torrey Pines was built. His son, William F., oversaw its creation in the late 1950s.
William P. also worked with Thomas on the Bel-Air, Riviera and Los Angeles country clubs, and William F. helped build the Sandpiper and Industry Hills golf clubs, and the Bermuda Dunes Country Club. Riviera is the annual host of the Genesis Invitational, which is hosted by Woods, while LACC is set to host the US Open next year.
5. A WORK IN PROGRESS
In the spring of 1999, San Diego City Parks and Recreation began a five-year capital improvement program for the courses. Rees Jones moved four green structures and added 10 new tees to extend the course from 7,000 to nearly 7,600 yards. He made smaller changes in 2019 and is therefore the architect most responsible for the transformation of the South.
But he is not the only one. Billy Casper and architect David Rainville oversaw the first redesign in the mid-1970s. Stephen Halsey and Jack Daray, Jr., redid it in 1988.
Tom Weiskopf, who won what would become the Farmers in his first year using Torrey South in 1968 – the tournament was mainly held at Stardust CC – redesigned the North Course in 2016.
As for the changes to the south, a new tee and two new bunkers on the left side added a new wrinkle to the 612-yard, par-5 13th hole. A new tee added 37 yards on the par-4 15th hole, as did a new low chipping area on the front left of the green, which will collect errant shots.
A new tee has been added to the left of the previous tee at 17, creating a new angle that favors a draw into the fairway. The hole features the shallowest par-4 green, 26 yards.
Fairways and roughs are still mostly kikuyu, greens poa annua. Devlin’s Billabong, the small pond overlooking the 18th green, is still the only water hazard (other than the Pacific Ocean). The 387-yard second hole is still the only par-4 under 400 yards.
Plus, the scenic 195-meter third hole, played downhill in the prevailing wind, is still the iconic par 3. With multiple tee boxes and wind directions, it can appeal to everything from pitching wedges to long irons.
The right dogleg sixth hole, a par 4 for the US Open, plays like a 560 yard par 5 for the Farmers. The easiest hole is usually the 568-yard, par-5 18th hole, the site of Tiger Woods’ do-or-die putt at the 2008 US Open, and Dan Hicks’ call, “Expect something.” something different?
He often decides the tournament too – just ask Jon Rahm. He hit a long eagle putt on the 72nd hole to win the Farmers in 2017 and birdied 17 and 18 last summer to win his first major.