Hearing what Phil Mickelson had to say about the Torrey North project and still struggling with the $12.6 million budget, the ethusiasm is mild at best for the upcoming renovation of this property. On site here the phrase "missed opportunity" has been thrown about a lot (and it's only Wednesday).
Though I think Mickelson mistakenly kept his plans pretty private, the more I hear about them, the more I fear Torrey Pines missed an opportunity to improve.
From Cameron Morfit's golf.com roundup of Mickelson's lively press conference:
"I don't understand the politics of it at all," Mickelson said of the impending redesign of Torrey Pines North, which Mickelson had hoped to direct but which instead will be overseen by Tom Weiskopf. "It makes no sense. I think it's terrible business practices, but it's what we live with here."
Mickelson was one of the first designers to consult with the City of San Diego about Torrey North, perched on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, and had said he would even waive his design fee. But because he was part of the preliminary talks, the California Fair Political Practices Commission forbid Mickelson's design group from submitting a formal bid.
"I'm not bitter about it," Mickelson said. "I just kind of learned to accept that as being one of the sacrifices of living in California. It is a personal place, it is a personal thing for me because of the memories, the history, the nostalgia that I feel every time I walk on the grounds here.
The Art Department has taken the Weiskopf plan, which is simple upgrade of the existing design, and placed it in an aerial for better study. Yes, it doesn't ruin what is a very nice course, but for $12.6 milllion, I'm not sure how many golfers will be thrilled with this or feeling like the character of the Bells was retained. Mickelson's plan was said to have been half the price and included a kids par-3 course:
Todd Lewis and I discussed what went wrong for the North Course project on Golf Central, and Phil's comments cited above can be heard. He offers his best stiff upper lip effort but can only hold on so long...