I can’t wait to get back on the North course and play those greens! The course looked beautiful in person and on TV!
Torrey Pines GC, Architect Tom Weiskopf renovate North Course
December 21, 2016
By Julia Pine
If you ask Tom Weiskopf why he selected Torrey Pines' North Course for his latest project, he'll intervene right away to change the question.
"I didn't choose Torrey, they chose me!" says Weiskopf.
For Weiskopf, working on the iconic La Jolla golf facility was a dream come true. In 1968 at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational, Torrey Pines was the site of his first PGA TOUR win. Fifteen more would follow, including a victory at the 1973 The Open Championship.
"It's really special," says Weiskopf. "And to work on a piece of property that amazing doesn’t happen very often. The sheer beauty of the place always captivates me."
For the city of San Diego, a redesign of Torrey Pines' North Course was natural. In need of a makeover for both playability and maintenance reasons, the North Course has always sat in the shadow of the famed South Course, that not only lands on the bucket list of golfers across the world, but is also highly preferred by TOUR players who come through for the Annual Farmers Insurance Open every January. For the facility now, the goal is that Torrey Pines boasts two bucket-list caliber golf courses, each with their own unique and memorable experience.
"We hope that now, no San Diego golf excursion is complete without playing both the North and South courses at Torrey," said Herman Parker, director of Park and Recreation for the City of San Diego.
And while getting out of the shadow of the South Course was important, matching its playing style and difficulty wasn't. While the famous South Course may be just that, more famous, it is the North Course that is home to 80,000 rounds per year and considered a home course to many residents of San Diego.
“The statistic I’ve always designed against is this: There are 25 million golfers in the U.S. as defined by the National Golf Foundation. Ninety-two percent of the 25 million golfers do not break 90. Fifty percent of the 92 percent don’t break 100. Eight-and-a-half percent break 90, but don’t break 80. One half of one percent, assuming they play by the rules, break 80. It’s a very hard game," says Weiskopf. “We have to get people around here. The purpose wasn't for us to make it equal [in difficulty] to the South. It’s for those who come out and play and we want them to come back and play.”
In the vein of making the course enjoyable for the recreational golfer, Weiskopf's redesign included reducing the number of bunkers from 60 to 42. In addition, green sizes have increased, now totaling 6,000 square feet, up nearly 1,500 from the previous design. But the most stark difference for those who have played the course before? The reversing of the nines.
“I thought that was very important," says Weiskopf. "The back nine, the old front nine, is the more iconic of the two nines from the standpoint of its location of holes on the ravines overlooking the ocean and looking back on the beach south to San Diego. It just leaves you with a much more positive, memorable experience when you play the nines that way.”
And no Weiskopf-designed course is complete without a driveable par 4, which has been created on the new seventh hole.
"The concept came to me while competing at the Open Championship at Saint Andrews in 1970," says Weiskopf. "Similar to a reachable par 5, the risk-reward challenge is the same."
And risk reward it is, not just the seventh hole, but the renovated course as a whole, which is now a reasonable option for those venturing to Torrey Pines.
As I recall, the Army gave the property to the CIty of San Diego with the understanding that it always remain a space of recreation for the City of SD peeps. That is why the Golf Course and I believe TP State Park came to be. That being said, the old saying “follow the money”, has never rang more true. The City has a Golden Goose in the course, they don’t NEED to do ANYTHING to bring in more play. That being said, here are a few ideas. The course makes a ton through brokership deals honored between the city and certain vacation planning companies. Perhaps the city could limit, to a greater degree, how many tee times they offer these vacation entities. Perhaps limiting these groups only afternoon tee times, as most locals will tell you, they tend to play at a much slower pace. This would open up more tee times for the City residents. In addition, perhaps City residents would be allowed a certain number of “Guests” to join them during a specified time frame. Perhaps 2 Guests per month. I think any Guest living in the Southern CA area should be afforded a modified rate, slightly higher than a local. Other CA Guests from outside of the established SoCal district, while playing with a resident, should be afforded a rate somewhere between the SoCal rate and out of town visitors. Just an idea and have a great 2017 on a course(s) you love with friends that complete a great memory for you. I look forward to playing the North Course soon and whatever Mr. Weiskopf has changed, wether I like or dislike, it will not keep me from MAKING another great memory at the finaminal Torrey Pines facility.
Excellent job Tom and your team!
Well done hopefully more people will see the beauty of the north course .
Bravo Tom! Thanks for designing a course we can enjoy playing without getting beat up. I like the opportunity of getting more G.I.Rs. Your design will keep us enjoying the game as we grow older.
How about a senior rate or CA resident rate. To drive from LA and then have to pay a very high rate is not appealing. Since it is a city course can’t they subsidize it and make it more desirable for CA out of towers?
Not being a resident, I can’t play either course
As much as it is on my bucket list!
Only discount is for city residents. SD county residents pay the same as golfers anywhere in the world. Back in the day county residents received a break ( not as good as city) which was great. Then the SD politicians saw a money train pulling up to the station.
Residents of San Diego County shpuld have reduced green fees as once was the case at Torrey Pines..About 14 or 15 years ago, that was changed, and only SD City residents enjoy lower green fees than others.
As a county resident my family and I spend a substantial portion of our income at SD city businesses
Great new changes on the North. I look forward to playing the course after the PGA Tournament.
Great idea, good luck in will definitely play the new north.
Played both courses a few years ago with my MA cousins.. A great experience excepting the
$200 price tag… I understand locals get a huge discount.. Hoe about a California resident discount?
Enjoyed playing all parts of the redesign at north Torrey except the greens
The idea to make them bigger for more placements works on less than half the greens because of the mounding of many greans
Effectively, he has left very few locations because each quadrant of the green is so small. If the pins are not put in the right location, it becomes very difficult. Not quite the stated intention to make it enjoyable for the average golfer
I’ve played golf for 50 years, I’m a single digit handicap, and I can’t edit go play the North course. Tom’s goals sound spot on. He is an amazing professional who I have admired for his playing talent and now his vision for the enjoyment of the game by the average golfer who just loves the game.
Looks fantastic, can’t wait to play it.
How do I get a start time?????? Our group lives in Orange County and it
seems next to impossible to get a start time. Any helpful suggestions would
I played the North course yesterday for the first time since renovation was completed. Frankly, while there are some notable benefits, I have to say I’m overall underwhelmed and disappointed.
1. The notorious false fronts on some greens have been eliminated
2. The greens roll very true
3. A significant number of trees have been removed.
4. The irrigation systems have supposedly been modernized, so this should improve maintenance.
1. While some bunkers have been removed, others stick up like the Himalayas, making for an inconsistent and odd layout. It’s almost like several holes were brought in from other courses.
2. Many of the approach shots, frankly, look rather boring, with the large, relatively flat greens and reduced bunkering.
3. There is a ridiculous hump on the back right corner of the (now) par 5 fifth green, guarding a small shelf. It doesn’t even belong on a miniature golf course unless they put a windmill or clown’s mouth on it. Grass doesn’t even grow on the hump, because the mower blades simply reach down to the dirt.
It makes a lot of sense to have the re-designed course offer more enjoyment for the majority of the players who score within the range of 85 - 99 strokes per round. This comment is from a player who is celebrating this year 2017, as his 71st consecutive year playing this wonderful game…..and still enjoying it even now with scores in the mid-nineties.
Very well thought out plan. I like that they addressed the everyday golfer to enjoy the course and not make it too hard. You want them to come back.
Can’t wait to play it.
Thank goodness someone is paying attention to the real stats of everyday players when designing a course. Weiskopf will do it-Now if all those everyday players can stop thinking theydrive 230 when they only drive 197 and hit one more club on the iron shot-all may improve their scores and have fun,
Thanks for the excellent commentary on the new course. Have played is once with the TPMGC and our foursome was very impressed with the entire course. Congratulations to San Diego. Now let’s get a new stadium for the Chargers