Playing Torrey Pines as a Single

I got a chance to play Torrey Pines in La Jolla last Friday and thought I'd blog about it since I wasn't able to find a lot of information while researching this before my trip.

I'm sure it's worse trying to play on weekends, but the whole experience wasn't as difficult as I was expecting. I went into this expecting a scenario like the folks camping out in their cars overnight just to play Bethpage Black, but that was fortunately not the case.

Part of the confusion lies in the misleading websites out there which form some sort of cottage industry around tee time reservations at Torry Pines, which masquerade as the official site, and will obtain a tee time for you for a nice fee. The real site appears to be this one, which mentions the automated phone reservation system you can use to get a tee time and shows the actual rates.

I decided to forego the phone reservation system since I was a single and too lazy to call in advance. I have no idea if my experience is indicative of a single trying to play on this course, but from talking to others in line, it seemed like a typical day.

The night before playing I watched the local weather report and noted that sunrise was to be at 6:56am. After a tough night trying to sleep I got out of bed just before 6 and showed up at the course at 6:45am. Walking around to the clubhouse I see a huge line of golf bags lined up and behind that about 25-30 people in line. I stop in the clubhouse and they tell me that line is for both checking in and for getting on the waitlist. Oddly, they mention something about getting a cart in the pro shop, but getting the tee time at the outside window. I'm walking so I don't pay much attention.

So I get in line and look around. It's one of the stranger lines I've been in. I've waited in line for movie premieres, concerts, and electronics launches, but this is, by far, the oldest line I've been a part of. Since it's a weekday, almost everyone looks like they're retired. Strangely, almost everyone seems to know each other, as if this is a weekly ritual for them.

Scattered among the regulars are the tourists like me who are trying to figure out what's going on. It turns out the rate for a non-resident like me is $115 walking. The single in front of me used an online reservation site and said he paid $150. Two other guys booked their tee times through their hotel and were charged $175 and $185, respectively. I have no idea if these include cart or not, but my guess is that they do.

There are a couple of tournaments on the South course later in the morning, so a lot of people get to the counter and request the North Course to get a better chance of getting on. One guy says that a lot of the regulars prefer the North Course because the South is too tough. I came for the South Course, so that's what I pick.

I didn't find this out until later, but apparently, the official tee time reservations start at 7:30 at this time of year and all these people in line are heading straight out on the course in the small window between sunrise and when the real tee times begin. When I get to the front of the line at 7:30, I put my name down thinking there's a huge amount of people in front of me and get ready to settle down for a long wait. So, instead of waiting around for my name to be called, I decide to get some breakfast. I stop in the restaurant trying to get something quick and they tell me the breakfast burrito is fast. So I order one, not realizing there's a stack of muffins right next to me, which would have been a better move.

After a long wait for my food, I get back to the line and my name gets called immediately. It's only 7:45 and I'm to join the group on the tee next. Rats, I hate getting rushed. So I take a couple of bites as I run to the tee and by the time I get there, my group has already teed off. With no warming up and juggling a burrito and coffee in each hand, I probably didn't make the best impression on my playing partners and quickly triple-bogied the first hole. Luckily I dumped my food mostly uneaten on the second tee and settled down a bit after that. The round went by too quickly and we were done before noon.

As for the course itself, it's pretty nice, but it was very foggy that day and I missed out on the vast panoramic ocean views. It was almost painful at times because sometimes there would be a slight break in the fog and you got the sense of what a spectacular hole you were playing. Oh yeah, and everything they say about the length is true. It's long. Damn long. Not a good day for my fairway woods to fail me. I didn't break 100. :(

It's 6900ish from the whites, but not too narrow. The rough is difficult even in non-tournament conditions, but I only lost 1 ball and that was from airmailing a green. There aren't any tough forced carries or blind shots on the course. Conditions were excellent. Pace of play was great, we finished in 4 hours. I'd heard about 6 hour rounds here, but maybe that's just on weekends.

Posted on Wed, 26 Oct 2005 11:52 by Seni Sangrujee (2070 day(s) old)

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