With the U.S. Open planning to visit the South Course in 2008, it is not going to become any easier to secure one of the coveted tee times at Torrey Pines, a 36-hole municipal facility in La Jolla, Calif. Given these circumstances, rather than trying to reserve a round, consider booking a suite at the enchanting Lodge at Torrey Pines, situated next to the South Course’s 18th green, and taking advantage of its golf desk and concierge. Not only does the resort obtain several daily tee times for guests at Torrey Pines South Course, but the golf concierge can also arrange tee times at any of a half-dozen other excellent courses in the greater San Diego area.
The lodge is the work of Bill Evans, a San Diego native and noted antique automobile collector. Evans purchased the motel that occupied the site and, inspired by the Gamble House in Pasadena, built his new resort in the historic California Craftsman style. It is an amazingly faithful homage to the architectural style popularized at the turn of the 20th century by brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Stained-glass doors featuring tree motifs open into a wood-paneled lobby with post-and-beam supports and metal-strap joinery. The 175 rooms and suites are decorated in Stickley Craftsman furniture and feature textile accents inspired by historic William Morris designs.
A cozy wooden bar dominates the lounge and leads to the A.R. Valentien dining room, named after the noted Craftsman-era artist whose botanical renderings hang in the room. Chef Jeff Jackson obtains ingredients from local farmers and purveyors to provide unusual tastes and textures to his menu items. The 9,500-square-foot Spa at Torrey Pines offers a full selection of treatments as well as classes in yoga, tai chi, and pilates. And then there is golf.
In preparation for the Open, noted architect Rees Jones tweaked the South Course in 2001, moving some bunkers closer to the fairways, pushing a few greens back, and adding length, lots of length. The new Torrey Pines South plays just a shade over 7,600 yards from the tips.
Originally built in 1957, the two courses at Torrey Pines inhabit a spectacular site that used to serve as a naval training area. They sit on a high bluff riven by deep arroyos and ending with a precipitous drop to the sea. It is a strong-willed course on a normal day: In addition to the brute length, the routing takes the holes in a number of directions so that the wind varies from shot to shot, including the knee-knocking efforts around and over the canyons. When the Open arrives, the fairways will be narrowed, the rough grown ankle-high, and the greens made hard and fast.
Although tee times are scarce and becoming even more scarce, the U.S. Open is more than four years away from Torrey Pines. That should give every golfing pilgrim enough time to visit the lodge and play the course before the tournament begins.