Tuesday, May 11

6 Little-Known Historical Facts About Torrey Pines Golf Course, Site of the 2021 U.S. Open

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By Julio Sanchez

WITH THE U.S. OPEN RETURNING to Torrey Pines this June, I thought it would be fun to take a deeper look into the little-known history of this Californian golfing gem.

For those of you that may not know, Torrey Pines Golf Course is located in La Jolla, California, in the Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve, a gorgeous coastal setting. The bluffs overlooking the Pacific offer the most stunning ocean views. If you are planning a vacation, this course is definitely worth a visit and the area offers some of the nicest ocean view vacation rentals in California.
It has quite an interesting history and has gone through some changes before becoming the great golf course we know today. Here are some facts you may not know about the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
1. It is named after a rare type of pine tree.
The name Torrey Pines comes from the rare pine trees that grow in the state reserve. In all of North America they can only be found here and on Santa Rosa Island south of Santa Barbara.
The trees are remnants of a prehistoric mountain range that got submerged in the Pacific. The Torrey Pines Reserve is on the south end of the mountain while Santa Barbara is on the north end of the submerged mountain.
2. It was first a military base.
Before the birth of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the area was first a military training center named Camp Gallan. The military camp opened in January 1941 and operated until 1945 when it was declared surplus, less than three months after the Japanese surrendered in August 1945.
During the time the camp was operational the area had become like a small city of 15,000 people with paved streets and nearly 300 buildings.
3. It was also used as a racing track.
After the military base closed, the buildings were sold to the city of San Diego and removed from the site but the streets remained. Races were usually held at Del Mar but a last minute disagreement with the Del Mar organizers left racers without a place to race in, and so, the Torrey Pines Race Course was born in 1951.
In 1955 the city of San Diego decided to build a 36-hole golf course on the site of the track. The last race was held in January 1956.
4. The city credited the wrong architect for its design.
Near the Torrey Pines golf shop, there are a series of plaques that honor the ones responsible for the present day course. One of them honors “William P. Bell Son” as the original architects. But the course was actually designed only by the son, William F. Bell. The father had been dead for four years when the design started.
The misconception comes from the fact that the city of San Diego first signed a contract in 1950 with the “William P. Bell and Son” co-partnership for the design of an 18-hole golf course to be constructed on the city-owned land in the Torrey Pines mesa. Due to a series of delays including his father's death in 1953, William F. Bell didn't manage to receive approval for his final design, which included 36 holes, not 18, until 1955.
Out of respect for his father, Bell didn't change the name of the company so the plaque got the name of the company right but not the one of the actual designer.
5. It was not a very good course initially.
The Bell family was a very popular choice when it came to designing golf courses between the 1920s and the 1950s. William P. Bell had worked on the Bel-Air, Riviera and Los Angeles CC layouts, alongside the legendary George C. Thomas Jr. But, as the father focused on quality, the son instead focused on quantity, mass producing courses efficiently and inexpensively after the death of his father. However, the quality of the courses built by William F. Bell is superior to the ones his father built.
6. It underwent multiple renovations.
The Torrey Pines Golf Course went through a series of renovations to reach its present state. The most recent one was in 2019-2020 when it was prepared for the 2021 U.S. Open.
In 1968 the San Diego Open moved to Torrey Pines and was renamed the Andy Williams San Diego Open. It was ranked among America's Top 100 Most Testing Courses by Golf Digest. But in reality it wasn't -- it was just not in the best shape. When the pros played there it was wet and windy, and its greens were nearly impossible, soaking wet in front, and rock hard on the back edges.
By 1973 the city of San Diego realized the course had to be rebuilt, and the contract went to local designer Billy Casper who had a design partnership with the golf architect David Rainville. It took them four years to redo all 36 holes while keeping the course open to the public.
Most of Rainville's renovation was swept away by the 2001 remodeling of the course by Rees Jones. But there is one contribution that remained untouched: the pond in front of the 18th green.
The Torrey Pines Golf Course surely is a special course with a unique history and I think that everyone is eager to see what this year's U.S. Open will add to the course's collection of memorable events. If it is anything like the previously hosted 2008 U.S. Open, won in dramatic fashion by Tiger Woods, it will most definitely not fail to impress.
Julio Sanchez is the owner of Cardiff Vacations, a luxury vacation rental business in Encinitas, California. 

Monday, May 10

PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Rory McIlroy Satisfied to See Work Is Paying Off After Winning Wells Fargo Championship for Third Time

RORY MCILROY SHOT A 68 in the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship to finish 10 under and win by a stroke. It was his third Wells Fargo victory (2010, 2015 and 2021) and 19th title on the PGA TOUR.

Abraham Ancer (66) finished second.

It was like old times. The Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, featured large galleries on Sunday that cheered McIlroy to victory. Rory loves playing in Charlotte and winning on Mother's Day was a sweet bonus.

He said, "Ever since I first set eyes on this golf course, I loved it from the first time I played it, and that love has sort of been reciprocated back. I've played so well here over the years."

It had been 553 days since Rory's last tour win at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, according to PGATOUR.COM.

He added: "I felt good about my game coming in here, but I wasn't expecting to come and win first week straight out again. It's satisfying to see the work is paying off, but it's just the start. There's so much more I want to achieve and so much more I want to do in the game."

McIlroy will soon have a major chance to build on his success. The PGA Championship begins on May 20 at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, where Rory won his first of two PGA titles in 2012.

Thursday, May 6

Golf Digest Cover Story and Interview: 'Who Is the Real Patrick Reed?'

PATRICK REED SAT DOWN WITH GOLF DIGEST to answer questions about his image, his critics and more.

When asked if he felt like the media had treated him unfairly, Reed said, "I do. I think a lot has been miscontrued, unwarranted."

As for explaining himself as a player and a man, he told Golf Digest

There are three types of players on tour. The chatty guy who's always smiling and waving because that's how he plays his best. There's the guy who wears emotion on his sleeve, lets everyone know when he’s playing well and throws clubs when he’s not. The third guy has tunnel vision and blocks out everything around him. That's how I’ve tried to be, and this ability to flip the switch and focus is why I've been successful. But it's led to this false narrative that I don't interact with other players.

Wednesday, May 5

MOVIE TRAILER: 'Walking With Herb'; New Film About Golf and Second Chances in Theaters May 7

News Release

LOS ANGELES, CA – The uplifting, new film WALKING WITH HERB takes audiences on an 18-hole rollercoaster ride as one man discovers how the impossible can become possible through faith, family and second chances . . . and with the help of God’s motorcycle-riding messenger. In theaters nationwide on May 7, WALKING WITH HERB will inspire and entertain audiences. 

WALKING WITH HERB features global star Edward James Olmos and comedy legend George Lopez.

"It was one of the best experiences I've ever had working on a film," said Olmos, who plays the lead character, and is an executive producer. "An amazing script and an excellent cast combine for a heart-warming, funny story about golf, belief and second chances."

In addition to Olmos (Academy Award® nominee, Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner, Battlestar Galactica, STAND AND DELIVER) and Lopez (George Lopez show), WALKING WITH HERB stars Kathleen Quinlan (Academy Award® nominee, APOLLO 13).

"This is Edward James Olmos' best performance since STAND AND DELIVER," said Sid Ganis, former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. 

Joe Amable-Amo is a bank executive and former amateur golfer struggling with his faith after an unexpected tragedy. Faced with doubts about himself, his purpose and his belief in God, Joe is stunned when God tells him that he’s been chosen to inspire the world and play in a world championship golf tournament. Guided by God’s eccentric personal messenger, Herb, Joe learns that the seemingly impossible is possible…through faith, family and second chances.

WALKING WITH HERB premieres nationwide May 7. Find tickets at WalkingWithHerbMovie.com.

Produced by Optimism Entertainment and Rio Road Entertainment, WALKING WITH HERB is directed by Ross Kagan Marks and written by Tony® winner and Academy Award® nominee Mark Medoff. 

WALKING WITH HERB is based on the book of the same name by Las Cruces, New Mexico, banker and golfer Joe S. Bullock. It was filmed in Las Cruces.

Friday, April 30

Western Golf Association: A Record Number of Student Caddies Awarded Full College Scholarships

By Western Golf Association / Evans Scholars Foundation

GLENVIEW, IL – A record 300 students from across the country have been awarded the Evans Scholarship, a prestigious full housing and tuition college grant offered to golf caddies, this year.

Each caddie has a unique story, reflecting the scholarship’s four selection criteria: a strong caddie record; excellent academics; demonstrated financial need; and outstanding character. A full list of winners can be found in the accompanying document.

Recipients were interviewed at one of more than 20 selection meetings held virtually across the country from this past November through March. Winners will begin college as Evans Scholars this fall, attending one of 19 leading universities nationwide that is an Evans Scholars partner school.

"These deserving young students epitomize what our Program has been about since its creation in 1930," said WGA Chairman Kevin Buggy. "Their dedication, hard work and sacrifice is inspiring, and we are honored to be able to help them pursue their dreams."

The Western Golf Association, headquartered in Glenview, Illinois, has overseen the Evans Scholars Program since1930. One of golf’'s favorite charities, it is the nation's largest scholarship program for caddies.

Currently, a record 1,045 students are enrolled in 19 universities across the nation as Evans Scholars, and more than 11,300 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles "Chick" Evans Jr. 

"These young men and women have shown excellence in the classroom, in their communities, and on the golf course," said John Kaczkowski, WGA/ESF President and CEO. "We welcome them to the Evans Scholars family."

The support of local golf and country clubs and partnering golf associations nationwide has been an integral part of the success of the Evans Scholars Program. 

Scholarship funds come mostly from contributions by more than 33,000 golfers across the country, who are members of the Evans Scholars Par Club program. Evans Scholars Alumni donate more than $15 million annually, and all proceeds from the BMW Championship, the third of four PGA TOUR Playoff events in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup competition, are donated to the Evans Scholars Foundation. In 2021, the BMW Championship will be held at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore from Aug. 23-29.

Wednesday, April 28

VIDEO: Mini-Tour Player Michael Visacki Qualifies for Valspar Championship; Tearfully Tells Father on Phone, 'I Made It'

THE ROAD WAS VERY LONG, but Michael Visacki will finally be in a PGA Tour event on Thursday when he tees off at 9:07 a.m. in the Valspar Championship.

A longtime mini-tour player who said he has logged some 170,000 miles in a 2010 Honda Accord over the past several years chasing his golf dreams made it into the $6.9 million Valspar Championship when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt Monday in a sudden-death playoff to gain the last spot in the field.

Asked why he believed his story resonated so much, he again got emotional during a conference call with reporters.

"Just a lot of people give up on their dreams, probably because they can't afford it," Visacki said. "But I've been lucky enough to be with my parents and be able [for them] to help me out sometimes to keep living it."

Monday, April 26

MORNING READ: 'Only Little Guys Get Slapped for Slow Play' on PGA Tour

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AT HARBOUR TOWN SI WOO KIM waited a minute or so to see if his 15-foot birdie putt would fall into the hole on the 2nd green. It hung on the edge. The hesitating putt did finally drop.

But the PGA Tour didn't hesitate at all. It penalized Kim a stroke for violation of Rule 13.3a.

Veteran golf scribe John Hawkins wrote about the incident at MORNING READ, as well as the larger issue of how the PGA Tour polices (but mostly doesn't police) slow play.

From Kim's playing partner, Hawkins added:

"It definitely exceeded time," fellow competitor Matt Kuchar explained, "but as I go up there [to the hole], I go, 'This ball is moving.' You could tell it was moving. You can't hit a moving ball, correct?"

Hawkins wondered about "Kim's marvelous birdie turned back into a par."

He wrote, "Would a rules official have taken the same action if Tiger Woods had been the offender? Hmmm."

We probably know the answer to that one.

There is a glaring inconsistency to the Kim penalty that warrants further review. Justin Thomas took more than three minutes to hit his tee shot at Sherwood Country Club’s par-3 15th at the Zozo Championship last fall. J.B. Holmes needs 90 seconds just to put on his glove. The big names and tour veterans get a free pass when it comes to pace of play. Kim takes a minute and change on a Saturday, gets the happy ending he was waiting for – and the Camp Ponte Vedra police decide to enforce an ambiguous rule because a ball is declared to be "at rest" when it obviously wasn't?

It's enough to leave you thinking a pro golfer has been made into an example. Kim is from South Korea, who at age 21 in 2017 was the youngest man ever to win the Players Championship, although he recently acquired a huge new batch of fame for busting his putter earlier this month at the Masters. He is not a star, at least in this country, and when you process the fact that Tour referees have called a grand total of two actual slow-play penalties since 1995, the sudden call to action during the third round at Harbour Town smells a lot like a dumpster in Jersey City. 

Tuesday, April 20

USGA to Welcome a Limited Number of Fans in June at 2021 U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open Championships


LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The USGA announced today that the 2021 U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open Championships will be played with a limited number of fans in attendance. The 76th U.S. Women's Open will be held at The Olympic Club (Lake Course), in San Francisco, Calif., from June 3-6, and the 121st U.S. Open will be held at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course), in San Diego, Calif., from June 17-20. 

"Last year, we missed the energy that fans bring to our U.S. Open championships," said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, Championships. "We are grateful to our local and state health and safety officials in California to be in a position to welcome some fans back this year to witness the greatest players in the world contending for these prestigious championships, while working to maintain the health and safety of all involved."

Those who have already purchased tickets to the U.S. Open will receive a direct communication from the USGA with additional details.

Information on tickets for each championship is available on uswomensopen.com and usopen.com

The USGA will continue to monitor developments and guidelines in California and will update local policies and procedures on the championships' respective websites as required.

For both championships, the following guidelines will be in place:
  • Face coverings will be required for fans, staff and volunteers, and must be worn at all times, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • All fans, staff, and volunteers will be required to abide by social distancing guidelines;
  • State of California residents must show proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championships or that a negative test result has been received;
  • It will be mandatory for all out-of-state fans to provide proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championship;
  • Information regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccination verification will be made available on uswomensopen.com and usopen.com;
  • Sanitization stations will be available throughout the grounds, and spectators will be permitted to bring hand sanitizer.
  • The U.S. Women's Open will be held at The Olympic Club for the first time in its 76-year history. The storied venue has hosted five U.S. Opens, as well as five other USGA championships. Torrey Pines will host the U.S. Open for the second time; in 2008, it was the site of Tiger Woods' memorable Monday playoff victory over Rocco Mediate.
The U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open will be the 84th and 85th USGA championships to be played in California. The two Opens were previously held in the same state during the same year only twice before, in 1971 and 2014.

Fifty years ago in Pennsylvania, Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, and JoAnne Carner won the Women's Open at The Kahkwa Club in Erie.

Seven years ago, the Opens were contested on the same course in consecutive weeks at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club (Course No. 2), in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., where Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie West were victorious.