7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Torrey Pines

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It almost looked like the Farmers Insurance Open was going to have a new winner – not a golfer, but Mother Nature, with her temperamental  storm and gusts of winds hard enough to knock over dozens of trees onto the course Sunday evening.The severe conditions closed the tournament to the public while cleanup crews worked to remove the trees and the debris from the storm in order to resume the Open. Fortunately Mother Nature didn’t succeed, and the winner of the Farmers Insurance Open went to Brandt Snedeker – who ironically didn’t have to hit a ball on the final day of the tournament. What many may not know is it this was not his first victory at the event, but actually his second win, which occurred in 2012.

When I started writing this, I didn’t know much about the history of Torrey Pines other than a couple of tidbits that most locals know. With the Farmer’s Insurance Open coming up, I came across some information related to this well known golf course, which was very surprising and informative.

Here are some fun factoids you may or may not know about Torrey Pines:

A view of the Pacific Ocean from Torrey Pines Golf Course

The Name

Torrey Pines is named after a rare pine tree (the Pinus torreyana) that lives in only two locations – Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara and in San Diego within the Torrey Pines State Reserve. The Doctor who discovered the tree in 1850 was not Dr. Torrey; instead it was discovered by Dr. Charles Parry who named it in honor of Dr. John Torrey, who was his mentor.

Torrey Pines – The Army Base 1941-45

Before Torrey Pines was ever conceived as a Golf Course , it was first Camp Callan – an Army anti-aircraft artillery replacement training center during WWII. The base was operational from January 1941 – 1945 – Less than three months after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the camp was declared surplus and the lease terminated.

Postcard from Camp Callan
“Dear Mom and Dad, the food is great, the view is amazing and we get to shoot big guns all day!”
Torrey Pines Racing booklet
a copy of the 1st National Torrey Pines Race booklet © SCCA and their respective owners

Torrey Pines – The Race Track 1951 – 1956

After Camp Callan closed, the buildings were removed, but the streets still remained. Typically the races were held at Del Mar, but a last minute disagreement from the Del Mar organizers left racers without a location to race. A suggestion was made to move the race to the abandoned streets of Camp Callan – thus creating the Torrey Pines race course by accident. It ended up being very popular, so the races remained at Torrey Pines.
Familiar names to this circuit, such as Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Masten Gregory, Carol Shelby, and many celebrities, were frequent visitors. In 1955, the City of San Diego decided to make Torrey Pines into a golf course, with the last race being held in January 1956.

Torrey Pines – The Golf Course – From Inception to Redesign(s)

The original design of the course was laid out by William P. Bell but passed away before it was started. His son, William F. Bell – oversaw and completed the final course design. Torrey Pines Golf Course opened in 1957 and has two 18 hole courses on-site.

Though sources seem to be inconsistent, Torrey Pines has been redesigned multiple times. Billy Casper, who then had a design partnership with golf architect David Rainville, redesigned both courses in 1975. This was followed by Stephen Halsey and Jack Daray, Jr. in 1988.

The last redesign was in 2001 by Rees Jones. In hopes of being selected to host the US Open, Rees Jones was hired and set out to rebuild the South Course. The rebuild was a success and, in 2002, Torrey Pines was chosen to host the 2008 U.S. Open and will host the U.S Open again in 2021.

The PGA Tour and the San Diego Open

Prior to Torrey Pines, the San Diego Open was played at multiple courses throughout San Diego county. In 1968, the San Diego Open made their home at Torrey Pines Golf Course. While we know the event as the Farmers Insurance Open, the PGA Tour’s San Diego event has been known by other names. Entertainer Andy Williams, who was also an avid golf player, was the celebrity title sponsor from 1968- 1988 and the event was known as the ‘Andy Williams San Diego Open’. Along with Andy Williams, the following sponsors were involved:

Wickes-Andy Williams San Diego Open – from 1981-1982
Isuzu-Andy Williams San Diego Open from – 1983- 1985
Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams Open – from 1986-1987
Shearson Lehman Hutton Andy Williams Open – 1998

In 1992 Buick became the Title sponsor, renaming the tournament the Buick Invitational in 1996. Buick remained the Title sponsor until 2009, and in 2010, Farmers Insurance became the Title Sponsor and is currently known as the Farmers Insurance Open.

Other great factoids about Torrey Pines

My personal favorite Penley Factoid – John Daly winning the Buick Invitational in 2004 – And the following morning opening up our local paper and seeing this photo:

The Bunker Shot
Daly’s bunker shot that gave him the win – photo credit: D Miralle

No one expected Daly to win. The only thing the papers seemed to have talked about was Tiger Woods, local favorite Phil Mickelson, and many other players that seemed to have a better chance at winning. But Daly’s hard work paid off. The irony that no one expected him to win as well as a little known golf shaft company such as Penley beat out the bigger names and bigger companies- well you can’t really put a price tag on it. Its the American Dream – seeing the little guy, the underdog, going against the odds – and succeeding.

I remember I was so excited at the time that I grabbed the article link from our local paper with the story and sent out a department-wide email (at the time I was in Quality Assurance), citing not only Daly’s amazing accomplishment, but also my Pops hard work – and dedication to making the best product quality product here in the United States. We take pride in keeping our products American-made, rather than sending it out overseas like many other companies have chosen to do (including to my boss who was, at the time, trying to cut costs by having our QA jobs outsourced to another country). I’m sure I wasn’t very popular that day, taking a stab at his outsourcing plans, but that’s another story for another day.

Daly went on to earn the PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year.

At the time of this win, the players WITB wasn’t readily available online, but Daly’s WITB for shafts were:

Penley ETA driver
Penley I.M.S. Irons and wedges (soft wedges)
Penley MON-Y Putter

The View

The view from the Torrey Pines Golf Course and surrounding area is breathtaking. Should you ever visit our fair city, you absolutely must try to schedule a game of golf; at the very least, a visit to Torrey Pines is strongly recommended. If you are feeling somewhat adventurous after a game of golf and want to explore the surrounding area, simply look down the cliffs below and you may just get a view of the ‘Naturist’ (nude)  friendly – Black’s Beach. A word to the wise: what is seen there, cannot always be unseen…

Big C -Torrey Pines
“Let me call you back Mark, my ‘naturist’ tendencies are calling!”

2016 – C Penley


To learn more about Torrey Pines and other facts, please visit:

Camp La Jolla: http://camplajolla.org/

The Chicane: http://thechicaneblog.com/2009/02/02/lost-track-torrey-pines/

Rees Jones – http://www.reesjonesinc.com/torry-pines-south/

USGA – https://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/press-releases/usga-announces-three-usopen-sites.pdf

Other references :

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2004/feb/16/doing-it-the-daly-way/

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2004/feb/16/golf-buick-daly-thrills-crowd-wins-playoff/

One thought on “7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Torrey Pines

  1. Great fact-filled story, Carter! Although my wife and I have been to Torrey Pines, and have a booklet or two (plus yardage books and scorecards from both courses there), I learned a lot that I previously did not know about Torrey Pines from reading this.

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