Although it’s taken me almost 50 days (which is 50 days too long), yesterday I finally cashed in on my city of San Diego residency by playing my first 18 holes at Torrey Pines. Yes, the Torrey Pines where Tiger Woods won his last major on one knee back in 2008. Yes, it’s a municipal course. And yes, as a San Diego resident I paid a whopping $24 to play 18 holes when non-residents find themselves paying almost 10 times that.
Talk about a benefit.
So let’s start with the course – there’s 36 holes, split between the North course and the South course. The South course is the course where the US Open was last held, the North course is the one I tackled first (I’ll report back on the South course next time). I’ve heard almost unanimous reviews from San Diego residents – the South course is so hard and long it’s discouraging and not all that much fun to play (albeit scenic), whereas the North course is a lot more fun (yet still plenty of a challenge).
I played 18 holes from the blue tees (6,644 yards) – you need special permission to play the black tees (7,061 yards). For being the “lesser” course, this place is amazing. Playing 18 here was one of the cooler things I’ve done, let alone done for $24. Holes 5, 6, and 7 may very well be the best three holes I’ve played back to back outside of St. Andrews. The back 9 is a little repetitive, but still very challenging.
As for my first score at Torrey, I shot an 88.
Front nine: 7-5-3-6-5-4-5-5-4 = 44
Back nine: 6-6-5-4-5-4-4-4-6 = 44
Realistically my goal is going to be to break 80 on the North course in the next year, and from what I’ve heard of the South course, to break 90 there.
In terms of conditions, the rough (and the grass in general) is pretty damn sticky and makes it easy to chunk what would otherwise be a normal chip or pitch shot. The greens are sneaky quick, especially downhill. Off the tee, it’s a pretty easy course – you can blast the ball almost anywhere, which likely explains why Tiger can’t seem to lose here. But despite being in ridiculously good condition, Torrey is operated just like a normal muni – jeans and t-shirts welcome, and feel free to bring along your own beer. I didn’t even see a ranger, let alone have one glaring down my throat.
All of that golfing goodness aside, it’s definitely the scenery that makes this golf course (and Torrey Pines State Park in general) so awesome. Walking down the 5th hole, which is perfectly framed by, wait for it, Torrey Pines definitely is something of a whimsical, almost trippy golf experience. You’re looking out at the ocean, watching some whales swim around, while paragliders fly over your head (there’s a paragliding flight school located on the cliffs next door). It’s pretty spectacular.
San Diego gets a -1 for their sports teams, but a definite +1 for the golf scene.