Phil Mickelson Design’s vision for the North course at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California is moving closer to reality, following extensive public consultation.
In the latest meeting, design director Mike Angus explained how Mickelson’s vision would see the course sitting more naturally within its surroundings, with plans to introduce more of the sandy soils and native vegetation that is typical of the neighbouring Torrey Pines State Park. The firm has worked closely with State Park officials in formulating the plans, which will see a reduction in the volume of water applied and the removal of 22 acres of turfed area.
The North course is extremely popular among San Diego locals, offering a playable contrast to the long and severely bunkered South course, which underwent a complete overhaul by Rees Jones to meet the demands of the 2008 US Open.
The North hosts 82,000 rounds per year, and Mickelson’s vision is underpinned by the desire to offer playability for average golfers, and for the experience to reflect the character of the State Park. Particular attention will be paid to hole edges, where the previous irrigation regime has over time seen grass extend to the canyon edges. This will be returned to a more natural state, as will areas within the course, including between the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth holes.
Mickelson’s design also sees the extension of the eighth hole from a par four to a par five, with the green being relocated to one of the most scenic points on the course, currently occupied by the back tees of the ninth and therefore not seen by the majority of players. This also allows the ninth to be converted to a long par four, which the front nine is currently lacking.
The new design also sees the modernisation of bunkers and greens and the introduction of drivable par fours at the second and sixteenth. Mickelson Design also raised the possibility of reversing the nines to create a more memorable finish, but the popularity of front-nine twilight rounds may mean the arrangement stays as it is.
Phil Mickelson Design has been retained by the City of San Diego to complete the masterplan and, given Mickelson’s connection to the local area and strong vision for the course, the firm should be a frontrunner to oversee the project through detailed design and construction.