Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Could Torrey Pines North be the architectural story of 2013?

Torrey Pines Golf Course
Torrey Pines Golf Course (Photo: Wikipedia)
For all the furore over the Old Course and the goings-on in Brazil (see Monday's post) I am taken with the gig Phil Mickelson has landed himself at Torrey Pines North.

Partly because £7m is a fair old wedge to have handy for a renovation  and partly because, as one commenter points out here, merely going back-back-back with the tees simply isn't an option on a course already hard against its boundaries.

In other words, re-working TPN could already be at the end-game envisaged in my recent open letter to four central figures in the architecture/technology conflict. Whoever touches it will need a Plan B.

Let's suppose Mickelson makes the leap from playing to designing as creditably as messrs Crenshaw and Ogilvy. Let's suppose he heeds the warnings voiced by one concerned local scribe and is motivated by his reservations with the architect next door to produce something so much better.

If all those boxes get ticked, then we could get to see Plan B and those who would merely turn fairways into runways have an alternative approach to consider when they next feel moved to 'Open-proof' a classic.

No, I'm not holding my breath just yet, either, but let's at least give Lefty a chance. I would simply add that he could do a lot worse for starters than examining the work Pascuzzo & Pate did last year when breathing new life into La Costa.

As I wrote at the time, my abiding memory of the revamp was how they turned passive bunkering into an active strategic factor and examining TPN (course guide here and while it's not actually covered by eFlyover, just go to Torrey Pines South and scroll up to find the North course) I was struck by how tired and dated the layout looks, the same feeling I had when studying the Wilson / Lee layout at La Costa before the revamp.

Visitor reviews of TPN that I've read were generally positive but focused noticeably on the scenery and setting rather than the intrinsic design values of the holes. The pro's perspective is even more damning and Ron Whitten explains here why this might be.

Pic of the Day - view from King Edward Bay GC, Isle of Man, UK
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