Touring Torrey: A Tee-to-Green Preview of Key Holes Ahead of 2021 U.S. Open

Course expert Scott Bentley provides a close look at five daunting holes that will decide who leaves Torrey Pines with a major championship.

The first hole at Torrey Pines South is quite the opener. Scott Bentley, Interim Deputy Director for the city of San Diego's Golf Division, shows us what makes it so tough.

First tee jitters are compounded by a hole that played as one of the toughest during the 2008 U.S. Open. Torrey Pines South begins with a 446-yard par 4 that takes golfers from the clubhouse towards the Pacific Ocean. The deceptively lengthy and difficult hole ranked as the third most difficult during its major championship debut. It proved to be a stumbling block for Tiger Woods en route to his 14th major championship. Woods walked off the first green with a double bogey in three of his five rounds.

What's normally a par 5 for the Joes is now a par 4 for the pros at this year's U.S. Open. Scott Bentley, Interim Deputy Director for the city of San Diego’s Golf Division, breaks it down.

Any other week, and any other year golfers arrive at the sixth tee and survey a lengthy, challenging par 5. While that may even be the case during the Farmers Insurance Open, the test gets much steeper during the U.S. Open. The world’s best players will take on the 515-yard par 4, one that wound up playing as the second toughest hole in 2008. Over the weekend it was witness to 33 double bogeys, the most of any hole that week at Torrey Pines. A dogleg right with a canyon hugging the right side, it’s the type of hole that could provide some entertainment from big hitters off the tee. An elevated and contoured green could also elicit groans from those who struggle to reach it in two.

A 500-yard par 4 into the wind? Good luck. Scott Bentley, Interim Deputy Director for the city of San Diego’s Golf Division, has everything you need to know about the 2008 U.S. Open's toughest hole.

At the southern edge of the South Course sits a hole that separated itself as the most difficult during the 2008 U.S. Open. The 501-yard par 4 12th had the fewest birdies with 15, 39 more bogeys than any other hole with 210, and 36 double bogeys or worse. Like No. 1 this tee box points directly at the ocean, welcoming a breeze that slows tee shots and sends errant swings even further off target. The narrow fairway is flanked by bunkers place directly in players’ landing zone. Find sand or the famous Torrey rough and holding a green sloped towards the fairway gets that much more difficult.

Talk about a narrow fairway. Scott Bentley, Interim Deputy Director for the city of San Diego’s Golf Division, shows us how the 17th could shake things up down the stretch.

A common refrain from the USGA in the leadup to the 2021 U.S. Open is "let Torrey be Torrey." That plan worked well in 2008, with a setup that gave way to scores typical of the major tournament and a thrilling finish. Few changes have been made to the layout in the 13 years since, with the 17th tee serving as one exception. The tee box for the 440-yard part 4 was moved left, tucked next to the canyon forcing an opening shot that cuts across a portion of the canyon. The landing area is narrow with two large bunkers located in the area where tee shots will settle. Across the fairway on the left, a few paces off the fairway is the canyon, and with it the potential of a penalty for off target shots. The green is elevated, with a narrow runway between bunkers. This was the seventh easiest hole in 2008, but figures to provide more of a test this June.

There's no shortage of history associated with No. 18 at Torrey South. Scott Bentley, Interim Deputy Director for the city of San Diego’s Golf Division, takes us through the short par 5.

The South Course’s closing hole offers potential for a wide array of scores and has already provided drama through the years – notably Tiger Woods’ infamous putt on the 72nd hole in 2008 to force an 18-hole Monday playoff against Rocco Mediate. The 568-yard par 5 was statistically the easiest of the 18 during Tiger’s triumph. Of the 16 eagles carded at Torrey Pines that week, eight came on the final green. Trees line the right side of the fairway, while four sand traps lay along the left side. Water enters the equation short of the green. The 18th provides a scoring opportunity, but there is trouble to be found along the way. Expect to see the same Sunday pin as the one Tiger took aim at in 2008 in his deceptively speedy putt that countless golfers have attempted to recreate ever since.

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