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Phil Unveils Plans To Unveil North Course Plans

I've been a little under the weather and I couldn't tell if it was a cold brought on by (A) contracting a germ or (B) hearing a San Diego city official gleefully talk of spending $1 million on cart parths at Balboa in the course of the Mickelson North Course public meeting.

I'm going with B, even though the feeling was coming on long before what was a pretty typical meeting with the requisite audience members turning questions into speeches.

Tod Leonard has the highlights of Phil Mickelson's Torrey Pines North Course plan unveiling that ended up not including a plan unveiling until he could gather some public input:

“I do believe,” Mickelson said, “that modern-day architecture is the single-most reason why play and participation in golf has decline. It’s just too hard. It’s not fun.”

Among Mickelson’s ideas for the North: fairways and greenside areas that will feed shots toward the hole, not repel it away; chipping areas that will challenge better players but allow higher handicappers to putt from off the green; greenside bunkers placed to the sides and not the front of greens; at least one driveable par-4 on each nine; shorter holes for women and juniors.

Mickelson said the greens need to be altered because they are more severely sloped than those at Augusta National. He said Torrey North’s pins often sit on slopes that are angled at 3 to 4 degrees, whereas Augusta’s pin positions are at 1 to 2 ½ degrees.

I wasn't sure about that one when he said it and I'm still a bit miffed, but Phil left no doubt about his passion for improving the course and that certainly won over the crowd.

The video accompanying Leonard's story:

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Reader Comments (22)

Phil says, "chipping areas that will challenge better players but allow higher handicappers to putt from off the green;". He is going to be hated by the pros on tour for designing big chipping areas. The pros dislike Liberty National, where Phil is/was a member, because of the greens and chipping areas.

I don't see how he can have chipping areas with the climate of San Diego unless the pour a lot of sand on to those chipping areas and get rid of the Kikuyu grass.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott
I think Phil is right. A lot of the new or remodeled courses seem to be over loaded with
dumb grade changes and tons of blind shots. Golf is a lot more fun when you can see what
you are trying to aim at.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Scott. Phil is fixing the North course. The PGA plays the South.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
@John. First two rounds are also played on the North.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Think Phil is a little off with this statement: "“I do believe,” Mickelson said, “that modern-day architecture is the single-most reason why play and participation in golf has decline. It’s just too hard. It’s not fun.”"

Maybe in Phil's and the country club world that might be true. But in the rest of the world the reason play and participation is down is money and time. Gave a friend my old clubs because he wanted to try golf. Asked him to go play, told him how much the cheapest green fees were around where we live and he said it was too expensive to play more than every once in a while. Heard others say they don't have the time to practice to make the game fun and not frustrating when they do hit the course. I for one am lucky to play 20 times a year, but I rarely if ever have time to go to the range in between rounds.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGus
Earth to Phil: Torrey is infested with kikuyu grass - there won't be any "feeding" of the ball anywhere. Even balls with low trajectory tend to bounce vertically in impact and basically stay in place.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
@Mike says: "Golf is a lot more fun when you can see what you are trying to aim at."

Blind shots are generally found on the ancient gems of the game - The Machrie, Ballybunion, Royal County Down ... so, you will have no fun there if you go.

I can't think of a single remodeled course that has incorporated a blind shot as part of the redo. I also have a hard time recalling any new courses with a blind shot included in the design.

Maybe these new or redone courses were so difficult that you were deep in the trees and you couldn't see what you were aiming at.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
I hate myself for agreeing with Phil on a lot of his opinions. I'd love to see courses move to more chipping areas and less rough around greens.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDsl
As much as we respect and admire Phil, I think he´s wrong in the fact that many golfers prefer a more chalanging game that not necesarely is a long game, but may be able to hit the greens and chalange putts.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuis Xavier
On the heels of his recent Padres related comments if i were a local resident I'd be questioning Phil's long-term commitment to Torrey Pines and the coming changes.......a fix-and-run ain't gonna get it.

Maybe Phil should hand the job off to Tommy Naccarato if he's (Phil, that is) unable to make the long-term commitment?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
In the above video Phil stated, “obviously winning my first PGA Tournament here.”
Phil won at Torrey Pines in 1993... did he forget about his PGA Tour victory in Tucson in 1991 as an amateur?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterZokol
@Zokal - I've heard that reference before, and his win at Torrey was his first professional win as a PGA Tour member.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
56 seconds.....all I could take.

Guy sounds like Rex Ryan, lots of words, not saying anything.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
People, let's keep things in perspective here, Phil (local hero) is being turned lose on the local Muni. We are talkign about Torrey Pines here, not TOC, Pebble Beach, Cypress, or Shinnecock. North nor South have never been, and never will be shinning stars of CGA. Save the holier than now opinions for tracks that are actually holier than now. THis is jsut more of Phil talking in circles to compensate for an ASU education.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommentersunDevil
We have to give him some credit, he sounds like he understands what RTJ's generation did to design in America and he doesn't like it.
Let's see what he comes up with.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKG
Agree, Cost and available time are the biggest reason why Golf is experiencing reduced play. But, Phil is right when he states that the new Golf Courses are too tough for the mid handicapper. Just look at most of Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman courses, all are too expensive and too difficult to play. Like Palmer courses, as usual, Arnold does the best job.
12.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDel
I like by a metro 36 hole facility. More people play the easier course and the cost is the same.

Nothing wrong with tyring something new here.

In terms of the people responding to the San Diego area grass, does that hold true for low-flighted shots intended to release? (ball hopping up in air, not forward). I think Phil's referring to a well-executed shot intended to release forward. Would those still pop up? Admittedly I have not played on the grass discussed above.
12.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStreaky Putter
If there really are pins positioned on parts of greens on the North course that have a "3 to 4 degree slope" on them, then the greens must be running at 5 on the stimp. There isn't a rules official anywhere in the world of pro golf who puts a pin on a slope with 3 to 4 degrees of angle to it.
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFester
Phil is correct. Too many people loosing faith in the game of golf. Courses are hard. Prices are high, club market saturated with confusing techno gadgets that promise xxx# more yards and they don't, golf swing wars (look how many golf gurus now peddling their secrets). Weekend golfers just want a course that is rewarding tee to green. Once on the greens, most will accept fast, curvy/sloped greens. Its the journey (getting to the green) that runs people from the game. Too many lost balls, blind shots. Make it fun.
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley
Played the North course one time which was about 4 years ago and Phil is right, when these greens are fast, which they were when I played, very tough to putt...and some of the greens are really as sloped as he is saying...and I shot 74 with 38 putts.

But I think a much bigger problem with golf is slow play, which is what keeps me from playing more that 20 rounds a year. Courses should adopt a 4 1/2 hour rule...either finish by then or have to drive to the clubhouse. This would force less skilled players to play from the shorter tees which is where they belong, to play ready golf and to putt out.
12.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
I played the North Course this summer... it took over 3.5 hours to play 9 holes, and we had to stop because of darkness. I am in favor of making changes that speed up play there.
12.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
I think Phil is on the right path overall. In regard to his remark that play is down because courses are too difficult is only half a statement...the reasons for any decline in play are cost, but just as important, slow play. Of course, slow play can often be directly attributable to course design, whether it be difficuly or layout. I should mention that course design and cost are related, some courses are just expensive to maintain.

Phil's comments remind of a Johnny Miller book I read several years ago. Miller mentions such things as in inability to roll the ball up as Phil does, and also things such as long forced carries over water etc. that make the game more difficult and less enjoyable for the average amateur.

I find the Nicklaus designs to be less fun because of what i see s excessive and way to punishing excessive blinds shots. But, having said that, I'm going to say that desgines of very tough courses such as Jack or giving the owner, the guy signing the check, what he's asked for. To that degree, the owners, developers are as much to blame as the designers.

After all of that...I think Phil is on a great path and more designers, developers and owners should listen to him.
12.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNospin

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