Torrey Pines (South Course)
Torrey Pines South is the most famous course in San Diego. The property itself is world-class, although the course has received backlash from design enthusiasts due to the poor use of a star property.
Some would argue Torrey Pines is just a typical muni if you take away the ocean views. But it is also a beloved staple of the San Diego golf community.
I understand both viewpoints, but this is still one of the most iconic golf courses in the world.
The South course can be punishing when the rough is grown. It is one of the longest courses on the PGA Tour at 7,802 yards at the ‘permission only tees.’
Torrey Pines South is too long for most golfers who want to play it. This course is best for experienced walking. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is excellent, but the clubhouse is not Major Championship worthy.
The first hole is notoriously tricky; Tiger double-bogeyed this hole to start his 2008 U.S. Open 3 times, including on Sunday. It’s a long hole that plays into the wind.
The second is probably the easiest hole and one of the rare birdie opportunities, as it is the only par four under 400 yards on the South Course.
The third hole is arguably the most famous on the property. It is also the most photographed, along with the North’s 15th hole.
Number 4 is a challenging par four and one of the best at Torrey Pines. It is the only hole that plays adjacent to the ocean for its entire length. With this massive property, having only one hole along the ocean is unfortunate.
The course length is brutal, the rough is thick, and the greens are undulating. The history of Torrey Pines speaks for itself, but the course, despite the hype, has significant room to improve.
Number 6 was converted for the U.S. Open into a 515-yard par 4, so it is fun to test your game and see how ridiculously hard a U.S. Open setup is.
The PGA Tour data says Torrey Pines South is the 10th hardest course on Tour, averaging +0.35 over par in its regular Farmers Insurance Setup. That is tougher than Riviera, Pebble Beach, Harbor Tour Links, Pete Dye Stadium, and Spyglass Hill.
Hole 7 is rated as the toughest on the course and is where the U.S. Open was capped off after 91 holes in 2008; holes 11 and 12 consistently rank as some of the toughest on the PGA Tour.
Hole 11 plays 225 yards directly into the ocean breeze and tricky green. Par is always good on 11 (it yielded just 13 birdies on Tour in 2022).
Number 12 is an infamous par 4. Long, demanding, and plays straight into the prevailing wind. This part of the course plays alongside the Torrey Pines glider port and is considered one of the most challenging holes on Tour. Even the best players require a good drive and a long iron in. Par feels like a birdie on 12, and reaching the green in regulation is nearly impossible if you are not in the fairway.
Thirteen can play well over 600 yards, and some special back tee boxes play directly over a carry with a roughly 240-yard carry to the fairway. The fairway dips down into a gully around 100 yards in front of the green and then where many layups to avoid the five greenside bunkers that front this sharply elevated green.
Several Torrey Pines renovations have been published mentioning this. One day, the course will get another redesign since it is not listed on any upcoming Major Championship schedules.
Overall, the finishing at Torrey South feels notable for its history. They are known for hosting arguably the best U.S. Open in 2008. Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm’s affinity for Torrey Pines have also elevated its status among tour stops. Torrey Pines is that it does have a history of identifying who the best player in the world is—something all good courses should do.
Number 16 is a beautiful par three that always plays a varying distance due to the pin and time of day. 17 has been noticeably improved with the canyons that used to be lined with Torrey Pine trees now opened up. Hole 18 doesn’t need much analysis; history speaks for itself.
If you drive the ball well at Torrey, you have a shot at playing well, but anything less than that, hopefully, the views will be enough to hold you over.
Featured Image Photo Credit: @jewels4birdie