Torrey Pines South Course (and Don't Forget the North)

A general view of the Torrey Pines South Golf Course
An aerial view of the South Course at Torrey Pines. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Torrey Pines Golf Course is actually two golf courses, the North Course and the more-famous South Course. Torrey Pines sits on oceanside cliffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in La Jolla, Calif., just north of San Diego. The courses are surrounded by state-protected areas, including the Torrey Pines State Reserve park and Torrey Pines State Beach.

The South Course is the more highly regarded of the two layouts. The South Course was the site of the 2008 U.S. Open. Both courses, North and South, are used during play of the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open every year. Both courses offer ocean views, and deep canyons cut through both layouts in places.

All the photos on this page are of the South Course, which can be considered the championship course at Torrey Pines

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Location and Contact Info

Hole No. 1 on the South Course at Torrey Pines
Looking up the first fairway on the South Course at Torrey Pines. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Torrey Pines sits outside San Diego in the suburb of La Jolla, about 20 minutes north of Downtown San Diego. Interstate 5 runs along the coast of California and takes drivers north from San Diego, or south from the greater Los Angeles area.

Contact info:

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Can You Play Torrey Pines South and North Courses?

Several holes run alongside cliffs at Torrey Pines.
The hole running parallel to the cliffside is No. 4. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Yes, both courses are open to the public. Torrey Pines Golf Course is owned and operated by the City of San Diego; it is classified as a municipal golf facility.

The website of the San Diego Parks & Recreation department includes information on reserving a tee time. Tee times can be reserved from eight to 90 days in advance. (Those with a city residency card can use an online reservation system for tee times one through seven days in advance.) Golfers can also just show up, get on the walk-on waiting list, and hope for an opening.

Walking caddies, forecaddies and golf club rentals are available through the Torrey Pines pro shop.

City of San Diego residents (with a residents card) can play for as little as $25 at certain times. Fees for non-residents can reach more than $200 for the South Course on a weekend. Rates for the North Course are approximately 60-percent those of the South Course.

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Origins and Architects of Torrey Pines

The third hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines.
The green on the third hole of Torrey Pines' South Course. Harry How/Getty Images

The creation of the North and South courses at Torrey Pines Golf Course dates to the late 1950s, following a City of San Diego bond election in 1956 that authorized purchase of land for the courses. The facility opened in 1957.

William P. Bell had the original vision for the courses, and his designs were completed by his son, William F. Bell. Beginning in 1999, architect Rees Jones oversaw a renovation, starting with the South Course. Jones' renovation was completed in 2001.

The North Course had its own renovation, led by Tom Weiskopf, that concluded in 2016.

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Torrey Pines' Pars, Yardages and Ratings

The fourth hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course
Looking toward the cliffside green on the 4th hole at Torrey Pines. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The par-72 South Course tips out at 7,698 yards with a course rating of 78.2 and slope rating of 144. Other tees play to 7,227, 6,885, 6,542 and 5,542 yards.

The North Course at Torrey Pines is a par-72, playing 7,258 yards from the championship tees, with a course rating of 75.3 and slope rating of 131. Other tees play to yardages of 6,781, 6,346, 5,851 and 5,197 yards.

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Big Tournaments Played at Torrey Pines South

Torrey Pines South Course 13th tee
The view from the No. 13 tee on the South Course at Torrey Pines. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Torrey Pines Golf Course has been the site of the PGA Tour's San Diego tournament, now called the Farmers Insurance Open, every year since 1968. Tournament rounds are split between the North and South courses, with the South course hosting the final round.

The tournament has changed names a few times over the years. From 1968 through 1988, entertainer Andy Williams' name appeared in the title. Williams' association with the tournament ended in 1989. Buick became the title sponsor in 1992, and it became the Buick Invitational in 1996.

The 2008 U.S. Open was played on the South Course at Torrey Pines, and the 2021 U.S. Open is scheduled.

That 2008 national open is one of the best-remembered in the tournament's history: Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate on the first extra hole of an 18-hole playoff. It was Woods' last win to date in a major championship.

The facility also is the site of the Junior World Golf Championships every year.

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Turfs and Hazards on the South Course

The 16th green at Torrey Pines South
The 16th green at Torrey Pines South. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The greens at Torrey Pines South use poa annua as the turf, and they are cut to roll at 12 on the Stimpmeter for tournament play.

The fairways are perennial ryegrass, kikuyagrass and poa annua; the rough contains perennial ryegrass, kikuyagrass and fescue.

The South Course has 78 sand bunkers, but only one water hazard. That one water hazard is a pond that guards the front of the 18th green, which is a risk-reward par-5.

Pines (Torrey pines, natch) and eucalyptus trees are the predominant tree species.

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Plus a Few More Bits of Trivia

Aerial view of the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Another view of the holes by the cliffside at Torrey Pines South. Donald Miralle/Getty Images
  • The course records at Torrey Pines were set during the PGA Tour tournament. On the South Course, Tiger Woods' 62 in 1999 still stands. On the North Course, Marks Brooks first shot 61 in 1990 and Brandt Snedeker matched that in 2007.
  • The PGA Tour first visited Torrey Pines Golf Course in 1968. Tom Weiskopf was the first Tour winner at the site, winning the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational.
  • Among PGA Tour players, Tiger Woods has the most professional wins at Torrey Pines with eight (the PGA Tour event in 1999, 2003, 2005-08 and 2013, plus the U.S. Open in 2008).
  • San Diego native Phil Mickelson has three wins at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open.
  • The land on which Torrey Pines sits today was once Camp Callan, a U.S. Army base during World War II.