PGA Tour Inc.

06/13/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/13/2021 05:44

Nine things about Torrey Pines South

The 121st United States Open returns to Torrey Pines South this week, bringing memories of Tiger Woods' playoff victory over Rocco Mediate in 2008.

have changed 13 years later - the most jarring being Woods' absence due to injuries sustained in a single-car accident in February. Xander Schauffele, one of the pre-tournament favorites this week, was a teenage fan watching from a tree in '08.

The golf course, which Rees Jones renovated again in 2019, is also different. It has hosted the San Diego City Amateur, the Junior World, the Farmers Insurance Open, and now, for the second time, it will be the setting for the U.S. Open - with a few subtle changes.

Here are nine things about Torrey Pines South.

1. It is named for a tree - and a man

The Torrey pine - which is featured in the trophy for the Farmers Insurance Open, the annual PGA TOUR stop - is native only to the 36-hole golf complex, Torrey Pines State Reserve next door, and Santa Rosa Island (near Santa Barbara).

The tree features clusters of five pine needles, and because it is protected, when some 30 Torrey pines were removed from the South Course they were simply relocated and transplanted.

Although early Spanish explorers certainly knew of the tree, Dr. Charles Christopher Parry, a botanist for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary Survey, officially discovered it. He named it for his mentor, Dr. John Torrey, who had co-written 'A Flora of North America' and was the solo author of 'A Flora of New York State.' Torrey never visited the region, but Parry sent him samples of the tree.

2. It was a military training camp

Camp Callan opened on what is now Torrey Pines Golf Course in 1941, just prior to the Pearl Harbor invasion. It was used for anti-aircraft artillery replenishment, and roughly 15,000 people lived on site. There were movie theaters and chapels, among other conveniences.

After WWII, the government sold the land and buildings back to the city of San Diego. Lumber from the buildings would be used to build housing for veterans.

3. It was a racecourse

The term 'driver' once meant something completely different at Torrey.

After Camp Callan, the land was repurposed to build a grand prix racecourse, hosting car-racing contests that included some of the biggest names in driving. Among them were Carol Shelby, who was played by Matt Damon in the movie 'Ford vs. Ferrari.' The last race was held in 1956.

4. A father-son team built the golf courses

William P. Bell, who was born in 1886 and apprenticed under Willie Watson and George Thomas, Jr., was a turf consultant for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during WWII, and shortly after that was joined by son William F. Bell in the family golf course design business.

A special city election in '56 led to the dedication of roughly 100 acres of the former Camp Callan being set aside for the creation of a golf course. William P. had the original vision for Torrey Pines, but he had died by the time Torrey Pines was built. His son, William F., oversaw its creation in the late 50s.

The City of San Diego Parks & Recreation has called them 'California's First Family of Golf Course Design,' noting their work on Torrey Pines, but also the father's contributions to Bel-Air, Riviera and Los Angeles country clubs, and the son's involvement in Sandpiper and Industry Hills golf clubs, and Bermuda Dunes Country Club.

5. It has had many redesigns

Rees Jones (2001, 2019) isn't the only one to have a hand in transforming Torrey South.

Billy Casper, perhaps the most famous golfer in San Diego history, and architect David Rainville oversaw the first redesign in the mid-1970s. Stephen Halsey and Jack Daray, Jr., redid it in '88.

In the spring of '99 the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation began a five-year capital improvement program for the courses. Jones moved four green structures and added 10 new tees to stretch the course from 7,000 to nearly 7,600 yards.

The most difficult hole in '08 was the narrow, 501-yard, par-4 12th, which often plays into the wind coming in off the Pacific Ocean. Two new bunkers were added in the '19 Jones redesign, but that's not all he changed.

A new tee and two new bunkers down the left side have added a new wrinkle to the 612-yard, par-5 13th hole. A new tee has added 37 yards to the par-4 15th hole, as has a new low chipping area front-left of the green, which will collect errant shots.

A new tee has been added to the left of the previous tee on 17, creating a new angle that favors a draw into the fairway. The hole features the shallowest par-4 green, 26 yards.