GRADE “A” ARCHITECTURE
Torrey Pines / North Course
La Jolla, California
16th Hole; Par-4 / 393 Yards
Architect: William F. Bell (1957) / Updated: Tom Weiskopf (2016)
It’s not unusual at any 36-hole facility for one of the two courses to be relegated to the position of “little brother” when held against the stature of “big brother.”
Located immediately next to the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines has been a long time presence for a range of key professional events. The South Course has garnered much of the attention serving annually as host to the PGA Tour’s Farmer’s Insurance Open each year since 1968. In 2008 the US Open was played on the South Course and was won by Tiger Woods in an epic playoff win over Rocco Mediate. The US Open returns again to the South Course in 2021.
What many people may not realize is that Torrey’s other layout — the North –recently went through a major upgrade and was on display for this year’s Farmer’s event. Interestingly, the design work for the North is the handiwork of Tom Weiskopf — a former Open Champion who won his first PGA win at Torrey in 1968 — the same year the facility started hosting the San Diego tour stop.
Weiskopf smartly reversed the nines of the North — placing the holes nearest to the water in a more advantageous position. The total number of bunkers was reduced from 60 to 42 and all were redone.. The grass on the greens was also changed from poa annua to bent.
The 16th hole is now in much more higher profile position. The uphill par-4 plays a good bit longer than the listed 393 yards. The elevation is change is roughly 100 feet. At the tee golfers can view the outlines of San Diego to the south and hear the crashing waves of the Pacific below the cliffs.
The tee shot must be skillfully positioned — too far left brings rough and the cliff’s edge into play. Push too far right and it’s likely you’ll be blocked out by trees on that side.
The green’s elevation means an extra club or two depending upon wind conditions and it’s important to keep one’s golf ball below the hole — thereby securing an easier putt. Miss too far to either side and the demands increase in a big time way. In order to make the hole a bit fairer — Weiskopf lowered the green in the neighborhood of 10-12 feet — thereby keeping ball’s that come up just short from rolling many yards back down the hill.
When one putts out at the 16th the views are simply exhilarating. Should you be present at the end of the day watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean is truly something to observe.
The North remains “little brother” to “big brother” South but the “new” North has clearly raised its profile. Credit Weiskopf for shaking off the dust of this layout and accentuating a new fun dimension. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?