News & ToursMay 13, 2008

Torrey Pines' Tale of the Tape

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The longest Open won't be as long as advertised, the United States Golf Association revealed on Monday. For next month's national championship, the South Course at Torrey Pines will measure 7,643 yards, according to the Open scorecard, which would make it the longest in Open history by 379 yards.

But Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competition for the USGA, said that number is deceiving. "I feel very confident saying we will not play that length one day of the championship," he said.

Davis said the USGA will utilize the variety of tee boxes available to them, resulting in a course that will play "somewhere in the neighborhood of 74 [7,400 yards] and change up to 75 [7,500 yards] and change." That's a big neighborhood, notwithstanding the USGA's benevolence in backing it down somewhat.

"We really feel mixing up teeing grounds adds another challenge to the test," Davis said. "It allows us on certain holes to propose different things that the architect was trying to do when he designed the golf course."

Under consideration is shortening a par 4 to a length that would give players the option of attempting to drive the green. Davis declined to reveal which holes are under consideration, but the par-4 second is a strong possibility. A new tee box there has extended the hole to 389 yards, but there is a forward tee that would place the distance at 319 to 329 yards.

The South Course is nearly Open ready, incidentally. The kikuyu fairways are perfect, while the rough, a mixture of kikuyu, rye and poa annua, is deep and thick and expected to get thicker as the kikuyu continues to grow as the weather warms.

"It's a warm-weather grass," Davis said. "It's definitely going to be growing in June. I think that, in and of itself, will change the golf course rather significantly, because it's such a thick, coarse-bladed grass that it's very hard to get a club through it."

-- John Strege

More from The Loop