So… How do I begin this post? I guess, first of all, I have to say thanks to Beth for setting this all up. During a recent trip to San Diego, with my birthday in sight, I got surprised with a set of rental clubs and some time set aside to play this very popular course. At first, the thought of playing this course seemed out-of-reach, because this vacation wasn’t meant to be a golf vacation. Luckily for me though, I have an awesome wife who sometimes contributes to my golf addiction.
She definitely did her research for this round too. It turns out that greens fees are crazy expensive, as expected for a course that’s an annual stop on the PGA Tour. So, I ended up playing the course on a Monday morning, when greens fees lower to a manageable amount, and the number of waiting single golfers reduces the queue to less than a couple hours. What’s worse is that the price just to make a tee time is more expensive than your average golf course in Chicago. So waiting for an open spot is what people normally do, even if it takes sleeping overnight in the parking lot just to be first in line at daybreak, something that many golfers do on the weekends.
So I arrived at the course around 8:00 AM, and put my name on “the list” to play the South Course. Torrey Pines has two 18-hole courses: the South Course and the North Course. The South Course is the more popular (and more expensive) of the two courses. The tournament on the PGA Tour that stops at Torrey Pines, currently known as The Farmers Insurance Open, previously known as the The Buick Invitational, and originated as the San Diego Open, actually uses both courses at Torrey Pines. For the first 36 holes, they split players between both courses, then the final 36 holes are played on the South Course.
I was anticipating being on “the list” for a bit of time. I was told to come back in one hour, which didn’t really bother me. This gave me plenty of time to hit some balls at the range. I guess you can say I showed up for this round somewhat cold, although I did play a round nine days earlier, but I had a set of clubs that were brand new to me. Well, in actuality, my wife did her research and rented a set of clubs that were very, very close to what I use now… pretty much the same set of clubs, but a year or so newer. Still, a bit of time at the range, I would think at least, would help me prepare for what’s ahead.
The range at Torrey Pines is surprising small. There’s probably around 20-30 hitting bays, and it stays pretty narrow all the way down the range. I don’t think they knew about my drive when they built the range, because all my shots seemed to be magnetically attracted to the netting. The range also has a decent chipping area, and I spent about half of my time at the range working on my high loft flop shots, because why not?
When the hour was up, I went back to see my status on “the list” and check-in for a tee time. I nearly got told to come back in another hour, but luckily they found an open spot in a tee time 50 minutes later. I was in. I spent the remaining time at the putting green, which was so busy you would have thought people showed up to the course just to practice their putting. There were about 2-3 people practicing their putts on each hole, spread out on a putting green large enough to hold around 15 holes (so, do the math).
Eventually my turn on the course came, and I headed to the tee box of the first hole. As expected, I was placed in a foursome, with two of the guys being local San Diego residents, and the other guy a British songwriter/producer (you have likely heard one of his songs). Since Torrey Pines is a municipal course, San Diego residents actually get a great deal to play the course; their greens fees cost about 1⁄3 the cost for non-residents. That’s like playing Dubsdread at Cog Hill Golf Course for $50 if you’re a Chicago resident. Just think about how busy that golf course would get.
Without going into the standard details like I usually do, the course is pretty amazing (at least, coming from someone who normally plays courses in the Midwest). The course sits next to the coast of the Pacific Open, on top of a cliff that provides constant easterly winds for the neighboring Torrey Pines Gliderport. If you’ve ever watched the PGA tournament at Torrey Pines on television, you’ve likely seen the paragliders or hang glider make an appearance. The winds during my round didn’t pick up until later on the back nine, so I didn’t see them too often throughout my round. Anyway, the course sits up high next to the Pacific Ocean, so the views are beautiful.
It turned out that the other golfers in my group were pretty good, so we ended up playing from the farthest back tees we were allowed to use (the real back Black tees are used by permission only). So, suddenly, I’m playing tees that are normally for 0-5 handicaps. Tees that set the length of the course to 7,051 yards. I’ve never played a course that long. Luckily for me, I rented a cart and the others were walking, which gave me a chance to quickly get to my ball and set up for my next shot.
I really can’t complain about my round, no matter how badly I played. After all, this is Torrey Pines. I actually had a lot of fun enjoying the views and getting a first-hand experience with the tall California roughs. I made some bad shots and I made some good shots. I didn’t walk away with any pars or better, but I did manage to walk away with only losing two golf balls. I ended up shooting a 110 (38 over par, 57 on the front nine, 53 on the back nine), which given the rating/slope of 75.3⁄137, I’d say that’s pretty good.
So I walked away this round with a many new things: 10 new golf balls, a new golf glove, a new bag of tees, a Torrey Pines golf towel, a Torrey Pines South Course 3D Yardage Book (I go all out), a round and a score I can mark down in my log, a PGA tournament course I can say I played, and, most importantly, an experience I can remember for the rest of my life. Thanks Beth. I love you.
Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 7,051 yards (blue tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating / slope: 75.3 / 137 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 110 (38 over par)