(CBSLA) — The PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing will continue this week with the Farmers Insurance Open. Torrey Pines, in La Jolla, California, has hosted the event since 1968. And the Swing’s second stop is as scenic a setting as any on Tour.
The public facility’s North and South courses are situated along the magnificent Pacific coast cliffs, just north of San Diego. The North Course is a par-72 measuring 7,258 yards. The South Course is also a part-72, though it stretches to 7,765 yards. Thursday and Friday rounds at the Farmers will be split between the two courses; Saturday and Sunday rounds will be played on the South only. In June, the South Course will host the U.S. Open.
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-pre 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 was wasn’t approved until 1955, and construction wasn’t completed until 1957. The elder Bell’s son William P. Bell oversaw the construction.
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 had been completely overhauled two decades ago. But more recently it received some adjustments ahead of the 2021 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, which players will see on the weekend, 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 it’s difficult beyond that beautiful distraction. Based on the teeing grounds, the third will play at 138 yards one day and close to 200 yards the next. The putting surface has two levels and drops off left to right.
Arguably the most difficult hole on the course is the par-4, 471-yard seventh that 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. Two holes after players navigate that bit of trickery, they’ll face the longest hole on the course, the 622-yard par-5 ninth. The ninth is fairly straightforward in terms of approach. But players will need some serious length needed to set up for anything better than a birdie.
The North Course, which players will face the first two days of the Farmers, is the shorter of the two, but it still presents a challenge. Often that challenge is accomplished with hole placement. Holes are generally placed toward the back and on the high side of the greens. The most difficult hole may be the finishing hole, which sees players taking on a 486-yard par-4 that ends with a two-tiered green. Once again, accuracy is key, as the green is protected on the front left side by a pair of bunkers.
The North also features two of the club’s most picturesque holes in the par-4 14th and par-3 15th. Both holes offer a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean behind the green, with the 15th playing downhill and offering a full view from the tee box.
Watch the Farmers Insurance Open, Saturday, January 30, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET and Sunday, January 31, 3:00 – 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.