American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Past President Rees Jones knows his way around the South Course at Torrey Pines. His handiwork in renovating the San Diego facility will be on display at the upcoming U.S. Open, June 17-20. In an “ASGCA Insights” podcast, Jones discussed his firm’s two-decade history at the course and what players and viewers can expect during the championship.
Jones first led a 2001 renovation of Torrey Pines, a $3.5 million project capped off when the course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, which Tiger Woods won in a riveting 19-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate. This time around, Jones’ efforts included a new irrigation system, updates to bunkers to provide greater challenge to top players and adding more length. The refreshed Torrey Pines has been experienced by PGA Tour players the past two years during the Farmers Insurance Open, to positive reviews.
“Torrey Pines has a lot of wonderful holes, but like any great championship, the title will be decided on the back nine,” Jones said. “The determining factor will be holes 11, 12, 13 and 18.
• “No. 11 is a strong par 3 with a green that is narrow in the front and can be a hard hole to approach.”
• “No. 12 plays into the wind at more than 400 yards; a lot of open entrance to the front of the green, but well-protected with bunkers of either side.”
• “No. 13 is a 600-yard par 5 playing downwind away from the ocean. Players can go for the green in two, but be careful of the bunkers, which can lead to a tough approach shot; but there will be birdies, and even eagles.”
• “No. 18 is a par 5 they can almost all reach in two, and the USGA will likely set it up to reach in two. The Sunday pin placement will likely be the same as where Tiger made the 12-footer in 2008 to force the playoff.”
The podcast also features some of Jones’ recollections on a lifetime involved with ASGCA. His father, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., was a founding member of ASGCA in 1947, and Rees has served the organization in a number of capacities throughout his professional career.
“Being a member of ASGCA is an important part of our learning process as professional golf course architects,” he said. “There is true value in the educational aspects that we learn from each other. The friendships I have developed and analyzing golf courses allows for diverse views. It is a valuable thing for our profession.
“My first Annual Meeting was in 1968 in Boca Raton, Florida. I was in awe, but the other members were so accepting. It was great to learn from them.”
All “ASGCA Insights” podcast episodes may be found at https://asgca.org/resources/podcasts.