Torrey Pines: Hell by the Pacific

Torrey Pines: Hell by the Pacific

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The par-3 3rd hole is going to be the beauty shot of the U.S. Open.
Miller Brown

Torrey Pines is a
great public facility
with gorgeous holes
overlooking the Pacific,
so I feel bad about saying this,
but I haven’t liked the South course
since it was redesigned
in 2001.

The
course is a monster, the longest
freaking course around. At Bethpage
in 2002 we talked about the
long par-4s and how guys couldn’t
reach the start of the fairway on the
10th hole.

Bethpage was 7,214 yards.
Torrey Pines sets up to 7,643.

How
long is long enough? Where does it
end? Then officials complain about
the pace of play. Of course it takes a
long time to play. It takes a long time
just to walk that far, man.

They call Rees Jones the Open
Doctor, but he doesn’t make courses better; he simply makes them harder.

It’s all subjective, but in my opinion
he has made some of them — Torrey
South included — more difficult than
they need to be.

Remember, people
have to play this track the other
51 weeks of the year. I bet Torrey
Pines lost four or five tee times a day
on the South course after the redesign
because it plays so much slower.

If I lived in San Diego, I’d play the
North course, which may be prettier
and is definitely more fun.

Torrey Pines is filled with brutally
long par-4s with a lot of trouble
around the greens. The par-5s aren’t
bad, but they’re probably the weakest
part of the course. The par-3 3rd
hole is going to be the beauty shot
of the tournament. It plays downhill
to a green with the shimmering Pacific
as a backdrop.

There’s a new
tee box that makes the hole play
only 140 yards. That’s good because
if you get the wrong wind from the
regular tee (195 yards), you could
have a six-group backup there.

I’m not a big fan of par-4s that
are longer than an interstate. I’ll
never say the best hole on a course
is some 480-yard par-4. It doesn’t
take a genius to design a long hole.

My least-favorite hole is the 12th,
which is going to play as long as
504 yards. It runs toward the ocean
and, therefore, into the prevailing
wind. The 12th has fairway bunkers
on both sides of the landing area
and a bunker on each side of the
green. There’s a swale in front of
the green that gives you the illusion
that it’s uphill.

The 4th hole is similar
except that it runs along the cliffs.
It’s 488 yards with fairway bunkers
on the right and a bunker guarding
the front-left half of the green. Hit a
great drive, and you still have a long
iron or even a hybrid into the green.
If you could skip any two holes on
this track, these are the two.

My idea of a great hole is number
7. At 461 yards it’s long enough
to create a little fear factor. It aims
toward the ocean and plays along a
cliff on the right. The fairway slopes
quite a bit, so it’s an underrated
second shot with a downhill-
sidehill
slope and the ball below your feet.

It’s easy to lose your second shot
right — into scorpion territory on the
cliffs — or left, where you’ll face a difficult
up and down.

You don’t hear Tour pros complaining
about par-5s no matter how
long they are, because we’re going
to reach any green in three shots.

The 13th (614 yards) is going to be a
key hole to birdie because the swing
holes at Torrey are the 14th, a dangerous
par-4; the 15th, a long par-4;
and the 16th, a difficult par-3.


You can make double bogey at the
435-yard 14th in a minute. The canyon
runs the length of the left side,
and the right side is tree-lined. You’ll
see guys hitting fairway woods off
the tee. More than half of the green
is flanked by unplayable
canyon.

You catch a greenside
bunker shot
a little thin and, uh-oh, you could
be dropping another ball. I hear the
USGA is talking about moving the
tee way up on 14 to turn it into a drivable
par-4. To quote Yogi Berra, I’ll
believe it when I believe it.

The 478-yard 15th is lined by huge
eucalyptus trees that overhang the
fairway. You need to hit a straight
ball here — any shot with movement
is going to struggle to find room. The green slopes pretty hard right to left
too, so you’d better be playing a left-to-right shot into the green.

The 16th is a long tee shot, either
193 or 225 yards, toward the ocean
and into the prevailing wind. It’s not
a birdie hole, trust me.

The 17th and 18th can be birdie
holes (if there is such a thing in an
Open), so if you can survive the Three
Amigos of 14, 15 and 16, you can make
up ground. The 17th isn’t that long
and the 18th will be fun — hats off to
the USGA for keeping it as a par-5.

At
573 yards, 18 will be reachable in two
and will probably rank as one of the
easiest finishing holes in Open history.
There will be eagles.

The USGA also said the rough will
be manageable. I’ve talked to three
guys who’ve played Torrey recently,
and they all said the rough is beyond
ridiculous, so we’ll see.


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