Torrey Pines Golf Course is a 36-hole municipal public golf facility on the west coast of the United States, owned by the city of San Diego, California. It sits on the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the community of La Jolla, just south of Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Torrey North and South are both on Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses in America. For the first time, Golf Digest recognized both of our home courses as among the best 100 public tracks you can play in the United States! South is ranked at #36 and has been on the list for a long time. The recent renovation of North resulted in its reevaluation and its first appearance on the list at #9
Torrey Pines Golf Course (South)
The Torrey Pines South Course is the more challenging of the two and is the host of the 2008 & 2021 U.S. Open Championships. The two courses were originally designed by William Bell, Sr. in 1957 and are home of the Farmers Insurance Open PGA Golf Tournament. In 2001 and again in 2019, Torrey Pines South Course was renovated and redesigned by Rees Jones. With the most recent renovations Torrey Pines South is longer and plays more difficult, with the South’s teeing areas extending the length of this course to up to 7,800 yards. Golfers must also deal with the distractive view of hang-gliders and para-gliders, soaring and hovering at the edge of the cliffs on the south end of the course.
Torrey Pines Golf Course (North)
The Torrey Pines North Course was newly Renovated in 2016 by Tom Weiskopf. It is the host of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open (along with the South Course). The North Course is shorter and less expansive than its brother. For many, it is more scenic than the South, having more picture-perfect opportunities along the track. The North Course is more popular for the less-experienced golfer but will still put up a good fight for the better ones. The North is bordered on its north end by the Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Torrey Pines Golf Course History
Before it was a world class golf facility, the land that would become Torrey Pines Golf Course was Camp Callan, a military training center. With the advent of World War II, the U.S. Army leased 750 acres of Torrey Pines Mesa from the City of San Diego for training purposes.
The Camp was created as an anti-aircraft artillery replacement training center. It extended from the southernmost boundaries of Torrey Pines Park towards the Muir Campus of UCSD. In return for an occupational permit to use the lower portion of the park, the military had to guarantee that no part of the park would be damaged. The park itself was kept open to the public. The camp opened during January, 1941, and closed November, 1945. The buildings were torn down and used for lumber to build homes for veterans.
Before his death in 1953, legendary course architect William P. Bell, Sr. had envisioned the design of a wind and sea swept golf course that would afford golfers both rugged play and breathtaking surroundings. A special city election in 1956 resulted in about 100 acres of what used to be Camp Callan being set aside for the construction of a public golf course, with the rest of the land given to the State of California. Before the decade was out, Bell’s son, William F., would ensure his father’s vision was realized by overseeing the completion of the North and South courses at Torrey Pines on that 100 acres.
In the spring of 1999, the City of San Diego Parks & Recreation department began a five-year program of planning and funding capital improvements to the Torrey Pines and Balboa Park golf courses. The desire was to improve the quality of the Torrey Pines courses and thus attract a better quality field for the annual PGA Tour event. Each of the major golf associations recommended world-renowned designer Rees Jones.
Rees Jones has restored courses for major championships, including PGA Tour, USGA and PGA of America competition courses. Part of Rees Jones reputation is that he improves the course, but leaves original layout intact out of respect for the original course architect.
Torrey Pines’ South course was selected to be first of two courses restored because it serves as the featured course for the Farmers Open. The restoration included moving four green structures and adding ten new tees to lengthen the course from just over 7000 yards to nearly 7600 yards.