(CBSLA) — The PGA Tour returns this week to Torrey Pines, in La Jolla, California for the U.S. Open. The course is already an annual stop, hosting the Farmers Insurance Open each January. So having the year’s third major there as well is a bit unusual. (Torrey Pines’ South Course hosted in 2008 as well.) But the USGA will ensure that Torrey Pines plays differently than it did five months ago.
The public facility’s North and South courses are situated along the magnificent Pacific coast cliffs, just north of San Diego. While the Farmers utilized both tracks, the U.S. Open will limit itself to the South Course. This course played at a par-72 for the Farmers. It’s a par-71 for the U.S. Open, extending to a hefty 7,652 yards, and one of the longest the players will face this season.READ MORE: As 49er Fans Descend Upon The Southland, Rams Fans Prep For NFC Championship
Torrey Pines takes its name from a rare tree — the Torrey Pine — that grows in the area. The site was previously home to Camp Callen, a military training center during World War II. Soon after the war ended, the government ended its lease with the city of San Diego. The buildings were torn down, but the streets remained. And in 1951, with rubber cones and hay bales to help delineate the route, the area became the short-lived Torrey Pines Race Course. The 2.7-mile course, which saw both sports cars and grand prix-style vehicles, hosted its last race in 1956
The courses themselves border the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The notable course architect William F. Bell, who died in 1953, conceived of golf courses utilizing these windswept surroundings. But the final plan wasn’t approved until 1955, and construction wasn’t completed until 1957. The elder Bell’s son William P. Bell oversaw the building.READ MORE: Firefighters Discover Human Remains After Putting Out RV Fire In Wilmington
The original courses were seen as lacking, with corners cut in the name of efficiency and cost. Both have since been redesigned multiple times. The South Course was completely overhauled two decades ago. But more recently it received some adjustments in preparation for this week’s U.S. Open. Among the changes were a new bunker on the ninth and a new tee on the tenth. The tee and fairway were moved closer to the canyon.
The South Course is among the longest on the PGA Tour. But it’s the par-3 third hole that rightfully attracts a lot of attention. The third is recognized for its jaw-dropping views of the Pacific, though the challenge extends beyond that beautiful distraction. Based on the teeing grounds, the third will play at 195 yards or 50 yards shorter. The putting surface has two levels and drops off left to right.
With the South Course’s change to a par-71, the sixth hole is now a 515-yard par-4, rather than a par-5. Arguably the most difficult hole on the course is another par-4, the 460-yard seventh. It features a narrow fairway leading up to a green with a collection area left and deep bunkers to the right. Any missed approach is likely to end up in a difficult par save.MORE NEWS: 'Is He Alive? Is He Alright?' Family Left With Nothing But Questions After Ricky McGhee's Disappearance Weeks Ago
Two holes after players navigate that bit of trickery, they’ll face the the 609-yard par-5 ninth. One of three par-5s on the course and one of two that top 600 yards, the ninth is fairly straightforward in terms of approach. But players will need some serious length to set up for anything better than a birdie. Wind is always a factor on coastal courses, and Torrey Pines is no different. On the par-3 11th hole, the prevailing wind is such that players must shoot into and across it.