Tom Weiskopf appeared at Torrey Pines to unveil plans for the upcoming North Course renovation project, which fell into his lap in a sense after Phil Mickelson's plan was shelved over obscure (arcane?) contractor/architect bidding rules.
Weiskopf was teamed with Wadsworth Construction and delivered the winning $12.6 million bid. John Strege reports on the 50-minute press conference.
Early reports suggest a fairly quiet renovation, with not many major changes.
“We have to get these people through this golf course,” Weiskopf, on site on Tuesday, said. “We have to make them enjoy their experience. We want them to come back and play it again and again and again. Especially the locals.
A few highlights from the transcript:
Q. Having played the TOUR and having had great success, there's the great debate as it relates to the U.S. Open and your designing this for the average fan, but you're designing it also for the U.S. Open. Where do you draw the line between building a "obstacle course" versus a golf course to save the integrity of par for the U.S. Open? Is it a big debate?
TOM WEISKOPF: Well, no, that's a very good question. I think any good design -- it wouldn't be difficult to build the world's hardest golf course. It wouldn't be difficult for me to make that so hard at 7,100 yards. But you got to remember again, let's go back to the purpose of it. It's to make people come here, enjoy themselves with a round of golf where the pros play, and it is what it is. I'm not going to compare that to the South Course. I mean that has great length. That has, what is it? 7,600 from all the way back now. We don't have room to do that. That's not the purpose of this golf course.
But to your point, the USGA has always gotten -- par has always resonated as their goal. If we can test the world's greatest and par wins, then we have won. I really think that's their attitude. So how do you do that? They do it with extremely difficult pin placements. They do it with extremely firm and unbelievably fast greens and narrow fairways and rough that's for the average guy is unplayable. It's unplayable for them, too. This is a tough rough. This grass here is tough. When you get that stuff up like that, it doesn't have to get much higher than that and it's tough.
So, I don't know, I played in a lot of U.S. Opens. I had my chances. I finished second twice or once, sorry, third twice. But nobody remembers the score, do they? They always remember who won last year, right? Jordan Spieth.
1-over won at Merion at 6.930 yards. I worked on the telecast there. 6.930. Again, Merion. Not one guy broke that shot par. That was the English kid, Justin Rose, right? 1-over par. 6,900. You would think that -- I thought they were going to tear it apart. But when I got out there on-site and I'm walking around and the fairways are -- you walk single file down the fairways, the threesome, you know what I mean? It was so narrow. The rough was so tough. The greens were so firm and fast. And actually they weren't that firm because it rained a couple days.
But again, there's nothing wrong with that. That's the way they do it. All these guys know that. That it's going to be a tough week.
But you're part of history whenever you can win a Major, aren't you? So why not have it different.
You know, it wouldn't be very much fun to play, but if every week you set it up like a U.S. Open, they would all be better players at the end of the year, everyone of them. They would learn how to really respect the proper shot. Making the right choice. But you always remember who won, not the score. To me. But that's the USGA. They're different. They're doing pretty well right now because brown shoes are back in style.
I'm sure someone knows what that last line means. Right?
Regarding the previous architect...
Q. Did Phil Mickelson have any input in your redesign? That's the first question. And the second question is, did average-Joe golfers have any input along with pros in redesign?
TOM WEISKOPF: I didn't -- I was quite surprised that Phil wasn't, you know, chosen, to tell you the truth. It made all the sense in the world. I don't know why he wasn't. I haven't talked to Phil. I saw him at Christmas time up at the Yellowstone Club where I live, and he comes up with his family. But I didn't have a chance to talk to him. He was engaged with a bunch of family and I just left him alone. So I have no idea. No, he has not mentioned anything about the project to me. We have not talked.
I'm always open to suggestions. Nobody has all the answers. I can remember a lot of situations -- it always happens when you're involved in a golf course design. There's always a hole or two that you just don't feel comfortable with, you've done your best effort to strategize it correctly, and it just doesn't feel right or look right. Many a time I've always said to my guys or other, the owner or some other people, what do you think? Anybody got an idea? And somebody will come up with an idea and I say to myself, I've said it many a time, why didn't I think of that? That's where we have to go.
Like I said, nobody has all the ideas. You throw out ideas. There's just always a big -- there's a map of the routing and everything, you throw that dart all the time with your idea at the end of it. Sometimes it sticks. Sometimes it wiggles for awhile, and then you construct it and then it's obvious that the bunkers that you planned is on the left side, but it should be on the right side. You make that change. Sometimes your ideas, you say to yourself, why did I even say that? That was stupid. That doesn't make sense.
A plan was shared and I have a copy, posted below. It's not going to bowl you over in the sense that the course will remain very similar to what is there now, perhaps missing a few opportunities to better incorporate the sage scrub canyon edges. But it's very exciting in the sense that it is respectful of the existing layout, which is still a wonderful, playable, interesting course. We'll see how the bunkers and greens are executed, but the bones are being respected.
The only bummer? The dreadful pond added post-William F. Bell is still in front of a new 17th green that will be built behind the current hole.
You can click on this to enlarge, though I can't guarantee clarity (working on that):