Torrey Pines (North Course)
Torrey Pines North is a beloved course for San Diego locals. It is a much more friendly version of the South Course with just as beautiful if not better signature holes.
This beloved municipal course is the most accessible course played on the PGA Tour. You can quickly look back and compare your shots to the pros during the two days a year the North Course gets to shine on TV during the Farmers Insurance Open.
Torrey Pines North saw a renovation in 2016 by Tom Weiskopf and hosts around 85,000 rounds annually. Still, it is unfortunate that Phil Mickelson, initially a favorite to re-imagine the North, lost the design contract due to a legal loophole.
The renovation’s purpose was to try to get the North course on an equal footing with the South. The course was elongated, and the greens were more undulating. Weiskopf said he wanted to make the North course accessible for the everyday golfer but still challenge the pros. He did this by building significantly larger greens with one difficult access point.
Torrey Pines North and South courses can vary significantly in the challenge they present due to the conditions; around tournament time, the rough grows so thick that it can be challenging to locate the ball. 4-inch Kikuyu rough changes things.
Tom Weiskopf reversed the nines, which makes sense as the signature holes are near the end of the round. But for a twilight golfer, one of the best parts of how the north used to jump right into the suitable holes.
The second and third holes are particularly tough, earning the nickname ‘The Undertow’ for being one of the most demanding stretches on the PGA Tour. Overall the front nine on the North is the weakest of the four at Torrey Pines. It is pretty straightforward golf that barely approaches the ocean around the third and fourth holes.
The best stretches on the course are on the back 9, holes 10-12, and 14-16. The 10th is a beautiful par five that plays straight into the ocean alongside the South’s opening hole. The second shot into par 5 leaves you with nothing but wide-open ocean views.
Additionally, the 11th tee box is another beauty. For some reason, the green is substantial here, and approach shots tend to roll off the back side of the green. Tiger Woods famously drove the green in 2000 with a steel-shafted driver.
An excellent par three can be found at the 12th hole, which has been significantly lengthened to play directly over a canyon as it cuts into play. A back-left pin location can get dicey with no room to miss left or short. Torrey Pines could be an even greater course if we could reimagine more holes like this.
Another exceptional stretch of holes is 14-16 and are the true highlights on the North. Number 14 is a challenging hole with a narrow tee shot to this dogleg’s left. The approach shot opens up to panoramic ocean views. The 14th green used to be framed by Torrey Pine Trees, but recent renovations have opened up distant opinions of La Jolla.
The 15th hole is probably the most photographed hole at Torrey Pines. This picture-perfect hole plays substantially downhill, and the wind comes directly off the ocean. Aim for the right edge of the green and let the ball bring it back to the middle. Long or left can likely mean at least a bogey or worse.
The back tee box from the 16th hole is iconic and one of the best strips of land in the entire city. The look back from the fairway on this uphill dogleg right is another great photo opportunity. The penultimate hole used to play as the number one handicap hole but has since been converted to a par 5. Now it plays as one of the most accessible holes on the PGA Tour.
To summarize, Torrey Pines North is an enjoyable course with memorable holes. For the San Diego resident’s rate to walk, it is one of the best deals in Golf. The course could be improved and likely will be over time, but it is still a more enjoyable track and less punishing than its brother to the south.
Birdies: Some of the nicest views of any golf course on a unique property. The stretch of 10-12 and 14-16 are notable.
Bogies: The rerouting of 9s, Course has lost a lot of Torrey Pine trees and some of its charms to challenge the pros for one day a year. Phil Mickelson designing this place would have been a perfect fit.
Photo credit: @jewels4birdie